Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wedding Guest Seating: To Assign or Not to Assign?

When planning a wedding, there are countless decisions to be made. Buffet or served meal? DJ or live entertainment? Roses or lilies? Another decision that requires consideration is whether
or not to have assigned seating for your guests. Here are six points to keep in mind when choosing whether or not seating should be "every guest for himself."

Guests' convenience

Whenever I show up to a wedding with assigned seating, I am happy not to have the burden of either scouring the room for an empty seat near familiar people or, on the other hand, sitting at a nearly empty table hoping I will end up surrounded by enjoyable company. Your guests might feel a bit more comfortable knowing they have a place reserved for them that is with people who they either know or with whom they will have something in common.

Efficient use of space

When left to their own devices, most people will do what it takes not to have to sit with strangers. This means that each new group of friends or family who walk in may sit at a different table, leaving an odd number of chairs scattered around the room that others may be reluctant to fill in. Assigning seats means that in a reception hall with limited seating, you can rest assured the space you have will be used efficiently.

Placement of guests

Assigning seats will allow you to be sure guests are placed around the room in a logical way. You can place each side of the family and each group of friends near each other. You can seat your rowdy college friends toward the back of the room where they will not force grandma to turn up (or down) her hearing aid. You can place families with young children near one another so the kids can keep each other company--perhaps even at their own "kids' table."

Your workload

Creating a seating chart can be a time consuming and often frustrating task. Late RSVPs, input from family members, and the desire to please every guest can make the seating puzzle a challenge to solve. On top of making the actual assignments, you must also create place cards and even perhaps a seating chart to display in the hall. Leaving seating up to the guests would certainly lessen the wedding planning load, especially for a bride under a time crunch.

Disgruntled guests

There is always the chance that some guests will be upset with their seating arrangements. My husband and I were teased for months by the people at our wedding who were placed with the “Debbie Downer” guest or at the furthest table from the front of the room. The attitude that you can’t please everyone is a must when opting for assigned seating.

No-shows and extras

No-shows and extras can throw a kink in even the best-laid plans. Out of sheer bad luck, my husband and I ended up with one table at which four of the eight guests did not show up, leaving the remaining four people in an awkward situation. You must also leave the occasional open seat to accommodate those guests who show up unannounced or barely announced. 

Each couple, each guest list, and each wedding itself calls for a different decision when it comes to seating assignments. Make the choice that makes you most comfortable, and your guests are sure to have fun either way. After all, if they hate the people they are sitting next to, they will spend that much more time on the dance floor!

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