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Author Topic: seating charts - pros and cons  (Read 21134 times)

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #30 on: November 17, 2014, 06:15:04 PM »
It used to be very common in DH's family of origin not to have a seating chart.  Usually, there would be a head table for the bridal party and around 6 or so tables reserved for close family, priest and his family etc.  The rest ended up being a free-for-all.  Before we were married, we went to a few weddings where we would have to wander around when we first arrived at the reception to look for a pair of seats among all the tables being "saved" by family matriarchs of the guests that were there. 

Thankfully, over the years, that tradition has more or less gone by the wayside at least for weddings.  For christenings and showers, it's still 50/50 on whether you will get a seating chart or will have to do the "high school cafeteria" thing.   Since christenings and showers in DH's family rival many weddings for number of guests, I just wish they would start having seating charts for everything and save us the hassle.

I'd never heard of a wedding not having a seating plan prior to ehell.  I love having allocated seating as it removes the awkward wandering around aimlessly looking for seats situation as previous posters have mentioned.

DH and I went to a wedding once where the only people we knew were all in the bridal party. Thanks to our friend's thoughtful seating plan we were able to sit with some lovely people we'd never have not met otherwise, and it saved us the awkwardness of trying to find 2 seats amongst complete strangers otherwise.


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2014, 10:13:11 PM »
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.

This is a very good point that often gets ignored.

When you let people seat themselves, they don't do so in an orderly fashion, neatly filling in your tables of 8 or 10 as they arrive.

Nope, a group of 5 will sit at one table, leaving three empty places. Maybe a group of three will want to sit there and all will be good. But maybe a couple will sit there, and now you have one empty chair, waiting to see if there's a single person out there who wants to sit with the rest of the group, or if they can even see that this table has a spare seat.

Or maybe no one else really likes that group of 5, and the three seats stay empty.

So you have to plan for more seats than you have guests, if you go without a seating chart. Because people will sit where they want and with whom they want, and they won't be worried about filling up the tables so much as sitting with friends or family.

If you have *exactly* the right number of seats, you run the risk of families or couples being split up on opposite sides of the room because that is where they could find seats. That's okay, unless the family has small kids who are now sitting with strangers and without a parent. Or a couple having to go from table to table, asking people if they wouldn't mind moving, so they can have two seats at the same table.
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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #32 on: November 18, 2014, 12:55:07 AM »
Don't go to weddings often but I prefer a seating plan. Recently attended a friend's wedding and was so relieved to find she'd placed someone I knew at the same table as me. We all got talking and had a lovely time.

Open seating would probably have freaked me out totally. I only knew a handful of people there and most of those not well.

Maybe open seating works better for those who attend as a couple/family (built in company/strength in numbers), are far more gregarious than I or who know a lot of the guests already. At a family wedding, I admit open seating would worry me less because I'd be related to a fair portion of the guests and not feel so awkward being the singleton joining a table (or worse feel the dread of being left alone like Nigel-no-friends at a vacant table).


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #33 on: November 18, 2014, 01:13:03 AM »
Seating chart all the way! Love them, love them, love them.


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #34 on: November 18, 2014, 05:51:41 AM »
I love seating plans, and I've never been to a wedding that didn't have them (in fact no only were tables assigned, but seats were too). I also loved doing our own seating plan. We had long tables (rather than round ones), each seating 30 people which I think was easier to arrange (more people for each person to talk to, could stagger friendship groups so that they overlapped), and was a really good opportunity to integrate our families and friends a bit. 

Went down a treat - I had so many people come up to me and say how much they had enjoyed getting to know their table neighbours, and it even spawned a couple of post wedding get togethers between our friends, which is nice. That said, this was very much a case of know your audience - we didn't separate people we thought wouldn't like to be separated, and there were overlapping clumps of people who did know each other so that no one was isolated. Fiddly, but it worked!


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #35 on: November 18, 2014, 06:48:17 AM »
Oh yeah, seatting charts all the way, think of the poor guests that only know the HC.

The only wedding I went to was my SO's sister, for the wedding diner we had a seatting chart and were seatted with some of his cousins, all couples, nice people but it was the first time I had seen them, the evening went well.
The day after there was an informal brunch, most had already started eating when we got there and there was not a lot of free spaces, my SO did the most callous thing ever (and probably didn't notice it, and I still resent him for that  >:() didn't wait for me, took off, filled his plate and went to sit at a crowded table, leaving me trying to fight back the urge to flee and hide in the bathroom for the next two hours.
It was like being back in middle school with my lunch tray and nowhere/no one to sit with and pretty sure all eyes on me mocking me. And that this time I didn't have the option to just eat alone.

It was his cousin who saved me, one I had seen maybe twice before. So at least at was with someone, but of the 8/9 people at that table I only knew one.

Of course this is an extrem, I'd hope no one would be so callous at something as formal as a wedding lunch/diner (even if the lunch is informal it's still part of the wedding celebration, this was the day after) to his/her partner, but it could still happen if the person is alone.


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #36 on: November 18, 2014, 08:38:10 AM »
Growing up, all the weddings I attended were choose your own seating. My only experience with seating charts was on TV. So, of course, I thought they were pretentious and an unnecessary stress inducer. Then, around age 30, I went to my first wedding with a seating chart, and I understood the appeal. Now, it's what I prefer. As a guest, having a spot reserved makes me feel very welcome, and that the HC is anticipating my presence. Also, at non-charted receptions, there are still tables that are understood to be reserved for close family. These are sometimes well marked, sometimes not, and it can be stressful to the guest trying to figure out which tables really are open to anyone.

I think in your daughter's case, since the reception seating is also the ceremony seating, you will feel much better having a chart.
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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #37 on: November 18, 2014, 08:47:27 AM »
Another pro-seating chart person here.

I don't think the seats have to be assigned but having the tables assigned makes it so much easier as a guest.  As a shy introvert, it is difficult for me to just plunk myself down with a group of people.  At least if my table is assigned, I know I have to plunk myself down with this particular group and that, hopefully, the host/ess has given some thought as to whether or not I'll enjoy the company of my table companions.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #38 on: November 18, 2014, 09:27:13 AM »
I am another in favor of seating charts.

Mr. Nutrax used a wheelchair. The one free-for-all wedding we attended was a real problem for us. Most people don't realize how much room a wheelchair takes up. We had a terrible time finding a table where there was room for him. We ended up sitting at a table that did not have a decent path to the men's room. He had to go outside to a patio and re-enter the building to get to it.

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #39 on: November 18, 2014, 10:24:23 AM »
I think the only wedding receptions I've been to which didn't have seating plans have been very informal ones - all with buffet style food and with people moving around quie a bit rather than sitting at one table and staying put.

Most weddings I've been to have assigned seating, - typically there will be a chart by the door showing all the tables and who is seated at each, and then often  name-cards at the individual seats. In cases where there is  a choice of meals the choice you've made is often printed on the back of the name card, which makes life easier for the wait-staff and also refreshes your memory of you answered a long time ago!

I like having a table plan as it does avoid the problem of having to hunt for somewhere to sit, but agree that it is then down to the hosts to ensure that each table has a suitable mix of people who are likely to get along and/or who know each other. Perhaps I have been lucky with my friends weddings but I've always ended up with people who are interesting and have enjoyed chatting with those I didn't previously know.

It also lets you use the tables for anything specific guests might need or that you may want them to have - at my cousin's wedding,  each child got a Kinder Egg, at their place-setting which had  the  double advantage of giving them something to eat if they go fractious waiting for the food to arrive and later,  something to do while the speeches were happening! At my sister's wedding, there was origami paper and instructions for each child, and as the seating was assigned, the instructions could be selected to suit the specific child's age.

It also allows the hosts to ensure they can cater for any special needs


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #40 on: November 18, 2014, 12:02:23 PM »

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.

For the comfort of your guests and your own state of mind, goldilocks, you and your DD need to keep control of the reception.  As hosts, you want to make sure that there is sufficient food and seating.  Not knowing who and how many are showing up could lead to a chaotic, messy party. 

It's extra work to follow up on RSVP's and to do a seating chart, but I bet that you would be glad that you did.


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #41 on: November 18, 2014, 12:07:19 PM »
I've been to dozens and dozens of weddings and only 2 of them have had seating charts. And, one of those was so small (about 15 people) and everyone knew each other.

In all of those dozens and dozens of weddings, I've never once seen Grandma behind a pillar or anything like that. Because there are usually a couple of tables reserved for specific guests - parents, grandparents, etc. I think that a seating chart can be rude if the HC doesn't put careful consideration into who they're seating together and no seating chart can be rude if the HC isn't considering special needs or other reservation requirements.

I think that the key to a good seating chart is that the HC can't think that they're going to dash one off in an hour. In most cases, it is going to take an extremely long time to ensure that you are taking good care of your guests. A slap-dash seating chart, with no consideration towards the guests is worse than no seating chart at all.


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #42 on: November 18, 2014, 05:21:45 PM »
They're pretty much necessary for plated dinners, I think.  Keeps things simpler for the servers/caterers.

I'm having a more casual reception with a buffet dinner, there isn't even enough space for actual tables for everyone so there will be a mix of round tables, cocktail tables, booths, picnic benches outside, etc.


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #43 on: November 18, 2014, 05:48:47 PM »
Alternate drop is normally the norm here. Chicken or beef, no seafood as its normally too iffy. If there were vegetarians at our wedding, they would have been given something distinguishing to put where they sat to make it out. Fortunately, my MoH was only vegetarian for health reasons and didn't mind eating chicken occasionally.


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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #44 on: November 18, 2014, 06:17:29 PM »
Alternate drop is normally the norm here.

To clarify--There was a whole thread here a while about about"alternate drop," because it is little known outside of Australia. Basically, two main dishes are chosen by the hosts, and waitstaff hand them out alternately to seated guests. Guests can then trade meals with others at their table if they want. See

In all of those dozens and dozens of weddings, I've never once seen Grandma behind a pillar or anything like that. Because there are usually a couple of tables reserved for specific guests - parents, grandparents, etc.
I have never been to open-seating a wedding where there were reserved tables for anyone other than the bridal party. So, grandma did indeed wind up behind a pillar or at a table with a bunch of rowdy college students.

But I do agree that a seating chart requires a lot of work, if it is to be done right. But when it's done right, it really helps make the even better.

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