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Author Topic: seating charts - pros and cons  (Read 18491 times)

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goldilocks

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seating charts - pros and cons
« on: November 17, 2014, 07:55:01 AM »
What do you think of seating charts at the receptIon?

Now, my daughter is having a "table set" ceremony due to the size and shape of the venue.   We are having the reception and ceremony in the same hall.

There will be some chairs at the front for the people in the processional, everyone else will be seated at their table with their chairs turned to front.

I'm of 2 minds about charts:

Pros
- I've been to weddings where you had to wander around to find a seat, and it's rather uncomfortable in some cases.

Cons
-  What if someone is inadvertantly left off the seating chart?   It would seem awkward to have that happen.

Other thoughts?

camlan

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2014, 08:16:18 AM »
There are ways to prevent people from being left off the chart. Just check and double check the guest list. The only reason someone shouldn't be on the chart is if they didn't RSVP and showed up anyway.

I greatly prefer seating charts. It can be frustrating to move from table to table, basically begging for a seat, only to be told that all the seats at every table are being saved.

It does take some time and thought to prepare a good seating chart. You want to put people together who will get along for the length of the ceremony and meal. (After the meal, people can get up and mingle.) You don't want to put one "new" couple with a group of old friends--they'll end up feeling left out. A mix of talkers and listeners is always good. An outgoing couple with a more introverted couple, as opposed to a table full of introverts.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


TootsNYC

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2014, 08:19:54 AM »
I've been to lots of seating-chart weddings or parties, and I've never seen anyone left off the seating chart.

I prefer seating charts in general--except when I end up sitting with my in-laws, whom I see all all all the time anyway, and far away from the relatives closer to my age.

So that's the drawback, to me--that you as host aren't able to give everyone the seating partners they'd prefer. But I think you can mitigate that by leaving room for people to move around: don't space the tables too closely (not too far either, of course, LOL), and don't cram people in so tightly at the table.
   The people can move around a little.

MummySweet

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2014, 08:49:20 AM »
I'm a strong supporter of seating charts...since I didn't have one at my own wedding and my closest friends ended up in Siberia while the distant relatives that were very vocal about their dislike of my religion ended up at prime tables.    To this day the only thing that I would change about my wedding is having that seating chart.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 09:44:29 AM by MummySweet »

goldilocks

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2014, 08:53:37 AM »
There are ways to prevent people from being left off the chart. Just check and double check the guest list. The only reason someone shouldn't be on the chart is if they didn't RSVP and showed up anyway.

I greatly prefer seating charts. It can be frustrating to move from table to table, basically begging for a seat, only to be told that all the seats at every table are being saved.

It does take some time and thought to prepare a good seating chart. You want to put people together who will get along for the length of the ceremony and meal. (After the meal, people can get up and mingle.) You don't want to put one "new" couple with a group of old friends--they'll end up feeling left out. A mix of talkers and listeners is always good. An outgoing couple with a more introverted couple, as opposed to a table full of introverts.

So if someone doesn't RSVP (which is likely to happen since there are number of young people invited), I really don't want to cause embarrassment for them.   Now, I realize that no one should show up withaout an RSVP, and they should not that as well, but I really don't want my daughters wedding to be the time for their etiqutte lesson. 

Thoughts about this?   Do I just save some empty seats?    I'm not inviting  more than my venue can handle.  My DD refuses to invite more than 150, and then just hope only 150 show up.

cattlekid

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2014, 08:55:51 AM »
Count me in as another vote for seating charts.  I've been to too many weddings without seating charts where DH and I end up wandering around like it's a high school cafeteria looking for a seat only to be told that entire empty tables are being saved by one or two people. 

I also POD Toots re:  seating families together.  I spend enough time with my ILs and don't need to be seated with them just to prove that we are a family.  If you feel strongly about families sitting together, at least blend them a little bit so they end up sitting in the same 2-3 table area but not all at one table. 

Bethalize

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2014, 08:57:58 AM »
I hate no seating charts. It makes things awkward and the "informality" turns into a chaotic mess as later people have to fill in the gaps. It only works if you have a good third more seating than you actually need.

sleepy59

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2014, 08:58:27 AM »
My vote is to have a seating chart as well.

My cousins wedding didn't have a seating chart and while there were more than enough seats for everyone, trying to find a table with space for my family (5 of us) to sit together was difficult. We ended up sitting as far away from the bride and groom as it was possible to be, right by the kitchen door at a table they hadn't expected to need.

CL32

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2014, 08:59:11 AM »
There are ways to prevent people from being left off the chart. Just check and double check the guest list. The only reason someone shouldn't be on the chart is if they didn't RSVP and showed up anyway.

I greatly prefer seating charts. It can be frustrating to move from table to table, basically begging for a seat, only to be told that all the seats at every table are being saved.

It does take some time and thought to prepare a good seating chart. You want to put people together who will get along for the length of the ceremony and meal. (After the meal, people can get up and mingle.) You don't want to put one "new" couple with a group of old friends--they'll end up feeling left out. A mix of talkers and listeners is always good. An outgoing couple with a more introverted couple, as opposed to a table full of introverts.

So if someone doesn't RSVP (which is likely to happen since there are number of young people invited), I really don't want to cause embarrassment for them.   Now, I realize that no one should show up withaout an RSVP, and they should not that as well, but I really don't want my daughters wedding to be the time for their etiqutte lesson. 

Thoughts about this?   Do I just save some empty seats?    I'm not inviting  more than my venue can handle.  My DD refuses to invite more than 150, and then just hope only 150 show up.

Check with the venue, but most places will add a certain number of guests (something like 5%?) and set extra seats accordingly to accommodate those who attend without RSVP.

camlan

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2014, 09:13:17 AM »
As for the RSVPs.

Set the reply date at least one week, if not more, before the deadline that you have to give the final numbers to the caterer. Some people see the reply date as "mail by this date" and not "we need your reply by this date," so give yourselves plenty of time for the mail to get to you.

When you think you have all the responses, pick up the phone or sit down at the computer and call or email all the non-responders. Tell them that you need a response. Lots of people just forget to mail the response card, or lose it, or assume they are so close to you that of course you know they will be coming. If they hem and haw, just politely tell them that you have a deadline and unfortunately, if they can't give you a "yes" right now, then you will sadly have to list them as a "no."

If you can't get ahold of people, or they don't respond to the emails, contact them one last time and let them know what will happen if they don't respond. "If I don't hear from you by noon tomorrow, we will list you as not attending." (Or you can do this from the start, if time is short.)

Anyone showing up after that gets what they deserve. Although as CL32 says, most places can accommodate a few unexpected guests.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Dindrane

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2014, 09:20:33 AM »
As for the RSVPs.

Set the reply date at least one week, if not more, before the deadline that you have to give the final numbers to the caterer. Some people see the reply date as "mail by this date" and not "we need your reply by this date," so give yourselves plenty of time for the mail to get to you.

When you think you have all the responses, pick up the phone or sit down at the computer and call or email all the non-responders. Tell them that you need a response. Lots of people just forget to mail the response card, or lose it, or assume they are so close to you that of course you know they will be coming. If they hem and haw, just politely tell them that you have a deadline and unfortunately, if they can't give you a "yes" right now, then you will sadly have to list them as a "no."

If you can't get ahold of people, or they don't respond to the emails, contact them one last time and let them know what will happen if they don't respond. "If I don't hear from you by noon tomorrow, we will list you as not attending." (Or you can do this from the start, if time is short.)

Anyone showing up after that gets what they deserve. Although as CL32 says, most places can accommodate a few unexpected guests.

I was going to suggest the same thing. One other thing that will potentially help improve your response rate is to make it very clear how you want people to respond. You can do this by using a response card you want people to mail back, but if you aren't planning on including those, it will help if you give people a phone number or email address to rsvp to. According to official etiquette, people should know how to respond to a formal invitation that doesn't include a response card, but in practice, most people don't, or don't feel confident in what they are supposed to do.

I also wouldn't assume, just based on age, that the non-responders will all be young people. You likely will get people who don't respond, but it could be anyone on the guest list. And it could be for something as simple as the mail going astray.

I'm also very much in favor of seating charts for any event that is large, formal, or both. I went to a very small, very casual wedding once that didn't have seating charts, but that's pretty much the only situation where I'd find that workable. In that case, there was also more than enough seating for everyone, and most of the guests knew a significant chunk of the other people there. For anything formal or large, though, a seating chart with enough room and time for mingling is a good way to keep things from being chaotic while still allowing guests to socialize with whoever they're inclined to socialize with. Except for the ceremony and the meal, most people probably won't stay glued to their seats, but it's nice to know you have a place to sit and a place to leave your things.


Lynn2000

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2014, 09:25:47 AM »
I agree about following up with people who didn't respond. It doesn't have to be scoldy or anything. But there's no reason you should be in the dark about whether someone's planning to come or not.

I also prefer seating charts. It gives everyone a spot that's theirs, and they can always move around as the evening progresses if they like. Whatever way you're using to tell people which seat is theirs, also have some empty seats marked, so if someone shows up who isn't on the list, they can be immediately directed to a specific seat. There will still be a moment of awkwardness as someone checks and double-checks the list for their name, but then they can say, "Okay, you can go to Table 5," instead of calling out, "They're not on the list! Where are those extra seats again?"
~Lynn2000

lowspark

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2014, 09:28:33 AM »
Let's say you don't have a seating chart and the non-repliers show up. What will you do then that would be different if you do have a seating chart? In other words, are you going to have enough tables & seating to accommodate everyone who might show up? So, do the same thing, but with a seating chart.

Put everyone who didn't reply at the "extra" table(s) and if they do show up, ta-da! they have a place to sit. If they don't, no harm.

But yeah, another vote for a seating chart, for the reasons stated above.
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kategillian

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2014, 09:45:09 AM »
Boy, I hate wandering around a reception looking for 2 or 3 seats together! It really does remind me of the cliquey tables in high school, although I know that's not the intent. I absolutely vote for a seating chart!

Alicia

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2014, 10:05:06 AM »
I'm usually single at weddings. I hate bringing a casual date to a wedding so usually go alone. If you skip the seating chart people like me end up sitting alone which is painful. I hate hate hate weddings with no table assignments. Assign tables not seats and you let people have the most fun. I want to be with the relatives or friends I normally don't see not alone at a table.  A cousins wedding had no table assignments and grandma in teh wheelchair was left unable to see the dance floor as the only seat that was wheelchair accessible left was in the way way back behind a pillar. Grandma could have been at any of about a dozen tables closer and been able to see the introductions and dancing and toasts.
Assign tables not seats . Please