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Author Topic: seating charts - pros and cons  (Read 18464 times)

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Specky

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #60 on: November 21, 2014, 10:26:05 AM »
I haven't been to many weddings.  None of the receptions have had seating chart, and for all but one, there was no problem finding a seat. 

One reception was different.  There was no seating chart and about 8 tables.  As the doors to the reception were opened, a number of couples ran into the room and quickly sat down, one couple per table, and then announced that the table was saved.  So, there were the 8 tables, each with one couple seated at each, and then a large crowded knot of the rest of us standing at the back of the room. 

The couples at the tables were served drinks and we were told we would be served as soon as we were seated.  Every request to share the table was met with, "Sorry, this table is saved."  The hosts (bride's family) were with the bridal party taking pictures.  After about 30 minutes of standing in the back of the room and no change in the situation, we started filtering out and leaving.  We wondered if this was a way to save on catering costs.

gellchom

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #61 on: November 21, 2014, 11:14:16 AM »
As a clergy couple, we have been to literally hundreds of wedding receptions, bar/bat mitzvah parties, and similar events.  I can tell you from experience that in almost every case, unless it's a very small group, assigning tables works much better, for the reasons people have stated.  I know some people don't mind, but as you can see in this string, most do.  I've heard hosts talking about how they "didn't want it all stuffy" and how everyone loved it this way -- but I also heard several of their guests sighing and even complaining; they were just too polite to tell their hosts.

I dislike having some people seated at assigned tables and others left to find their own seats.  I get it, about reserving tables for close family and elderly, but it's still A list and B list, treating some guests differently than others.  Why not just finish the job while you're at it?  Don't cost nothin'. 

Speaking of which, you will save money on rental and centerpieces, and keep your room less crowded, because, as others have said, you need 25-30% extra seats if you don't assign them.

Most weddings here have tables assigned; rarely exact seats.  Place cards (I guess they are really called "escort cards") with the guests' names and a table number are on a table near the entrance.  If there was a requested meal, there might be a colored dot on the back.  I would probably assign specific seats if I had long tables for 30, as one poster above had, or maybe you could assign it by section: "Table 3A," etc., or just call each section of the table by a different table number even though they are all pushed together.  Anyway, give the chart to the coordinator or caterer, but I would give cards to the guests rather than just post a chart so they won't have to stand in a crowd to try to see it or even miss it entirely.  It's also easier to make any last-minute changes without messing up your neat chart.

I agree that it is the hosts' duty to arrange congenial tables.  But having done this several times, I find it one of the most fun jobs of hosting.  It's not that hard, and you won't forget anyone.  Yes, caterers have more food on hand and know how to squeeze in extra seats if necessary for surprise guests (and remember there will probably be a few last-minute cancellations in any large group anyway).

I also agree it is the guests' duty to make pleasant conversation with whoever is at their table, and not to complain about their seating.  *Somebody* has to sit with Uncle Grumpy, near the kitchen or the speakers, or behind the pillar.  When it's your turn, don't take it personally, just help the hosts out by taking it as a compliment that you are the best able to carry it off.  Remember that guests do not come in convenient groups of exactly 10, and there are going to have to be some sort of miscellaneous assignments.

If I'm seated at a table where I don't know everyone, I put our escort card on the table turned away from me so people don't have to be embarrassed if they forgot our names.

At our daughter's recent wedding, we all had so much fun arranging the tables, and many guests thanked us for putting them with people they enjoyed.  The only complaint came from 2 of my high school aged boy cousins who were seated at a table including some kids younger than they were; kids always hate that anyway, and these two both look older than they are and had been enjoying the attentions of a college-age girl cousin of my husband's -- they didn't want their cover blown! 

Sometimes we seat natural groups together, especially if it's like cousins or old friends who live far apart, and sometimes, especially for people who see each other all the time anyway, or where people have already been socializing for three days, we mix them up.  This is an excellent example of something you shouldn't try to decide in the abstract.  Get the list of the real people out in front of you and see what is going to work best with your real group, theory be damned.

I found it really helpful to take a bit of time and print the names of the guests (individually, not by couple of family, so you can see your numbers easily) widely spaced in columns, then cut them into little slips with one name on each.  Much easier to move them around and try different combinations that way than constantly writing and erasing, and you are sure you aren't forgetting anyone (don't drop any!).  When you get an arrangement that works, write it down and then start again and try another way, too -- like natural groups first, then mixed up but with similar ages/interests/whatever.  Maybe a third way, too.  Then you can compare them and fine tune.  This works great for us, and it's fun, too!  A plus is that it is easier than pencil and paper, white board, or computer for several people to all see and work on together, almost like doing a jigsaw puzzle together. 

cicero

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #62 on: November 21, 2014, 11:22:03 PM »
I prefer a seating plan ( assigned tables not chairs). If the venue can't help you with this, there are programs that help you set up the seating then print out little tent cards with guest name and table number (" John Smith, table 8") with corresponding flags on each table. Then set up the cards on a table at the entrance in alphabetical order and either let your guests find their card on their own or have an attendant-( staff or volunteer) hand out the cards.

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AmethystAnne

  • mom, grandmother, and an enthusaistic knitter & crocheter
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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #63 on: October 26, 2015, 01:14:43 AM »
It would not be good if 8 guests were assigned to a 6-person table.

Biker Granny

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #64 on: October 27, 2015, 12:17:17 PM »
I will agree with a sit down dinner there should be a seating chart....but please but a lot of thought into who you sit with who.

At my brother's wedding my husband and I were assigned a table...ok....when I started looking at the other place cards I notice that the entire family was assigned a different table...all sitting together. 
Strike one....why would we be excluded? 
When we got to our table, our backs were to the dance floor, we are sitting at a table with a couple that I knew for a fact that my new SIL didn't like, a person and his date that were invited just because of a percieved social obligation, my bother's tattoo artist and his stripper girlfriend.  Strike two. 
I turned to look at the family table and lo and behold there are two empty seats and two seats taken up by my mother's boss and his wife.  Strike three. 
Imagine having to respond to people asking what had happened between me and my brother.  Where we on the outs? This reception was not enjoyable for us at all.
So not only do the guests affected notice these things, the other guests do also.

After the honeymoon one of my other siblings called him out on it....asking why I was seated at the "castoff" table (his words not mine)
He did call and apologize saying that he thought we would have more fun with the other people.  MY SIL to this day thinks it's funny.

gellchom

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #65 on: October 27, 2015, 01:05:00 PM »
I'm sorry your brother treated you like that and that it was humiliating for you.  Maybe it is possible he really did think you'd have more fun at the other table?  Some people are better at that than others.

Regarding your backs to the dance floor, or similar things like being seated behind a pillar or near the kitchen or whatever -- look, someone has to be seated there.  Ditto being seated at a "miscellaneous" table when the numbers just don't work out neatly, or with Ms. Boring, or whatever.  Try to be a good sport and not take it personally, but rather think of it as helping out.  Suppose the hosts said to you, "We just can't get this seating to work out neatly; would you be a darling and help us out by anchoring this table of people who don't know each other?"  It still wouldn't be your ideal seating, but I bet you wouldn't say, "No, I want to maximize my own pleasure at your wedding.  Ask someone else."  We just told our best friends to put us anywhere they need to at their daughter's upcoming wedding if they run into this situation -- although there are lots of people we would love to sit with.

In any case, this story isn't really an indictment of the table assignment approach.  The problem wasn't that they assigned tables, it's that they didn't do it well.  At all!

mime

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #66 on: October 27, 2015, 02:02:05 PM »
I will agree with a sit down dinner there should be a seating chart....but please but a lot of thought into who you sit with who.

At my brother's wedding my husband and I were assigned a table...ok....when I started looking at the other place cards I notice that the entire family was assigned a different table...all sitting together. 
Strike one....why would we be excluded? 
When we got to our table, our backs were to the dance floor, we are sitting at a table with a couple that I knew for a fact that my new SIL didn't like, a person and his date that were invited just because of a percieved social obligation, my bother's tattoo artist and his stripper girlfriend.  Strike two. 
I turned to look at the family table and lo and behold there are two empty seats and two seats taken up by my mother's boss and his wife.  Strike three. 
Imagine having to respond to people asking what had happened between me and my brother.  Where we on the outs? This reception was not enjoyable for us at all.
So not only do the guests affected notice these things, the other guests do also.

After the honeymoon one of my other siblings called him out on it....asking why I was seated at the "castoff" table (his words not mine)
He did call and apologize saying that he thought we would have more fun with the other people.  MY SIL to this day thinks it's funny.

It is so hard to read that story and stifle all of the revenge-y ideas percolating in the back of my mind...

I do vote for assigned seats, and agree that it should be thoughtfully done. For my wedding, the room seated 100 and we had like 2 seats to spare, so planning was very careful. There were some tricky choices, but we could use a mix of 8, 10, or 12-person tables, which helped. The most fun pairing I remember was that DH had invited a couple who didn't know anyone else. They were very outgoing and loved quirky things. So we sat them at a table full of very friendly mimes. Good stuff.  ;D


doodlemor

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #67 on: October 27, 2015, 03:38:39 PM »
I vote for seating charts.

We went to a family wedding half way across the country to attend what turned out to be a large wedding.  When we got to the reception room after the ceremony it were mostly empty of people, but every chair had a coat or sweater on it to save it.  It seemed to me that these people had gone to the reception before the church in order to stake out their territories.  I believe that the seats must have been saved earlier in the day because we were early arrivals and there were not many cars in the parking lot.

We did find seats in an adjoining room away from the wedding couple and the rest of our family.  It was a bit awkward sitting with people we didn't know who weren't very talkative.  After dinner some of our relatives did come over to chat with us from time to time, and it was greatly appreciated.


greencat

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #68 on: October 27, 2015, 04:38:08 PM »
I will agree with a sit down dinner there should be a seating chart....but please but a lot of thought into who you sit with who.

At my brother's wedding my husband and I were assigned a table...ok....when I started looking at the other place cards I notice that the entire family was assigned a different table...all sitting together. 
Strike one....why would we be excluded? 
When we got to our table, our backs were to the dance floor, we are sitting at a table with a couple that I knew for a fact that my new SIL didn't like, a person and his date that were invited just because of a percieved social obligation, my bother's tattoo artist and his stripper girlfriend.  Strike two. 
I turned to look at the family table and lo and behold there are two empty seats and two seats taken up by my mother's boss and his wife.  Strike three. 
Imagine having to respond to people asking what had happened between me and my brother.  Where we on the outs? This reception was not enjoyable for us at all.
So not only do the guests affected notice these things, the other guests do also.

After the honeymoon one of my other siblings called him out on it....asking why I was seated at the "castoff" table (his words not mine)
He did call and apologize saying that he thought we would have more fun with the other people.  MY SIL to this day thinks it's funny.

It is so hard to read that story and stifle all of the revenge-y ideas percolating in the back of my mind...

I do vote for assigned seats, and agree that it should be thoughtfully done. For my wedding, the room seated 100 and we had like 2 seats to spare, so planning was very careful. There were some tricky choices, but we could use a mix of 8, 10, or 12-person tables, which helped. The most fun pairing I remember was that DH had invited a couple who didn't know anyone else. They were very outgoing and loved quirky things. So we sat them at a table full of very friendly mimes. Good stuff.  ;D

I didn't look at your handle and I got a mental picture of a couple sitting with a group of actual mimes in full Marcel Marceau getup.  I assume you mean your family members?

KenveeB

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #69 on: October 27, 2015, 07:50:00 PM »
Are you from an area where seating charts are common? I've noticed that they tend to be kind of a self-fulfilling prophesy -- in areas where they're common, people think it's going to be awkward and uncomfortable trying to find a seat without one, and it is. In areas where they're not common, no one gives a second thought about looking for their own seat and feel more uncomfortable when required to sit in a particular spot instead of with who they want. So go with what's the done thing in your area if you want your guests to be most comfortable.

Dr. F.

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #70 on: November 01, 2015, 04:45:03 PM »
I haven't been to many weddings.  None of the receptions have had seating chart, and for all but one, there was no problem finding a seat. 

One reception was different.  There was no seating chart and about 8 tables.  As the doors to the reception were opened, a number of couples ran into the room and quickly sat down, one couple per table, and then announced that the table was saved.  So, there were the 8 tables, each with one couple seated at each, and then a large crowded knot of the rest of us standing at the back of the room. 

The couples at the tables were served drinks and we were told we would be served as soon as we were seated.  Every request to share the table was met with, "Sorry, this table is saved."  The hosts (bride's family) were with the bridal party taking pictures.  After about 30 minutes of standing in the back of the room and no change in the situation, we started filtering out and leaving.  We wondered if this was a way to save on catering costs.

What happened after that? Did the HC ever find out why the majority of their guests just left? I'm just picturing them coming in from getting their pictures taken to find 16 people out of the 80 they invited, and every one else just gone.

mime

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #71 on: November 02, 2015, 09:04:15 AM »
I will agree with a sit down dinner there should be a seating chart....but please but a lot of thought into who you sit with who.

At my brother's wedding my husband and I were assigned a table...ok....when I started looking at the other place cards I notice that the entire family was assigned a different table...all sitting together. 
Strike one....why would we be excluded? 
When we got to our table, our backs were to the dance floor, we are sitting at a table with a couple that I knew for a fact that my new SIL didn't like, a person and his date that were invited just because of a percieved social obligation, my bother's tattoo artist and his stripper girlfriend.  Strike two. 
I turned to look at the family table and lo and behold there are two empty seats and two seats taken up by my mother's boss and his wife.  Strike three. 
Imagine having to respond to people asking what had happened between me and my brother.  Where we on the outs? This reception was not enjoyable for us at all.
So not only do the guests affected notice these things, the other guests do also.

After the honeymoon one of my other siblings called him out on it....asking why I was seated at the "castoff" table (his words not mine)
He did call and apologize saying that he thought we would have more fun with the other people.  MY SIL to this day thinks it's funny.

It is so hard to read that story and stifle all of the revenge-y ideas percolating in the back of my mind...

I do vote for assigned seats, and agree that it should be thoughtfully done. For my wedding, the room seated 100 and we had like 2 seats to spare, so planning was very careful. There were some tricky choices, but we could use a mix of 8, 10, or 12-person tables, which helped. The most fun pairing I remember was that DH had invited a couple who didn't know anyone else. They were very outgoing and loved quirky things. So we sat them at a table full of very friendly mimes. Good stuff.  ;D

I didn't look at your handle and I got a mental picture of a couple sitting with a group of actual mimes in full Marcel Marceau getup.  I assume you mean your family members?

They were my mime friends, but no, they weren't in whiteface and costume for the wedding... that would have been very memorable!  ;D


oogyda

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Re: seating charts - pros and cons
« Reply #72 on: November 13, 2015, 04:04:37 PM »
I vote for seating charts or assigned tables.  At a very minimum, reserved seating for certain groups (i.e. Bride's family, Groom's family, etc.)

I recently attended a  family wedding reception that had no assigned tables and no reserved tables and the family members were among the last to arrive due to staying for photos after the ceremony.  We were fortunate that a step-family member who was not included in the pictures had been among the first to arrive and saved a table for us.



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