To Seat or Not to Seat: That is the Question

When making certain choices about the timeline or flow of our wedding, I like to imagine myself as a guest. So if you would humor me for a second, let’s try a visualization exercise, everyone:

You’re a guest at the intimate (90-person) wedding of your good friends Rooster and Hen. It’s fun. It’s not formal, but there’s an air of celebration. The ceremony has just ended and the food truck behind the ceremony space has opened. You wait in (hopefully a very short) line, grab your baby back ribs and go find your seat.

What happens next is where I get stuck. Should we let our guests grab their own spots, or assign seats at certain tables?

100 Layer Cake, photo by Davina + Daniel

Our initial plan was to not assign seats. The whole day is supposed to feel laid-back, and we don’t want to add any false formality to that whole seating chart charade. I don’t care who our guests want to sit and mingle with. It’s a tight-knit group and a lot of our guests will know a huge chunk of the people there (but there are some guests that will only know two or three others). And hopefully the sitting-and-eating thing happens only for a short time, and after bellies are full, our guests will get up to dance and play games.

But as I browse blogs and boards, I see that the general populous of wedding guests actually prefer assigned seats. The brides on this Weddingbee board suggest assigning seats takes the anxiety out of a situation where some people would otherwise be forced to walk up to a table of strangers. Some of the gals on this board cite that not assigning seats is actually pretty awkward for guests. And the last ones to come in (from out of the food truck line, for instance) often get bad seats or seats with people they don’t know. People are used to some formality in weddings and making them hunt for a seat feels like getting picked last in kickball.

Picked Last in Gym Greeting Card via Cafe Press


Besides the laid-back vs. awkward argument, there’s a couple of other points I could argue for either set up:

Pro-Sit Where You Want

  • It adds to the laid-back vibe and hopefully people will mingle all night and not get stuck at tables.
  • We have an assortment of chairs and tables in and outside the venue (2-seat tables, 4-seat tables, 8-seat farm tables and picnic tables) and it would be hard to assign people to certain ones and avoid hurting feelings or making people feel like they were separated (to a 2-seater or an outside table) for a certain reason. The smaller 2-seat and 4-seat tables might also help relieve any anxiety from guests who aren’t comfortable sitting with a table of strangers.
  • There’s plenty of seats. I think we currently have 96 seats for 90 people in the mismatched table arrangement above. And that number doesn’t even include the lounge area sofas inside or the highboy tables and the ceremony benches outside on the patio (next to the food truck and picnic tables and still right in the action). So any concerns about getting stuck somewhere shouldn’t happen.
  • Our food is grab and go. On the off chance that somebody did get stuck not finding an appropriate seat at a table, I think our food truck meal is pretty portable and easy to eat standing up at a highboy table or sitting on a bench. (Think dinner/reception that’s more like a half-seated cocktail hour.)

Pro-Assigned Seats

  • Nobody is jockeying for seats or feeling like they can’t spend time with the people they know.
  • It gives you a spot to leave your stuff, like a purse or shoes.

I’m obviously having trouble finding a wealth of good points for assigning seats, but I definitely don’t want things to be awkward and for our guests to feel uncomfortable.

mean-girls-cafeteria-sceneParamount Pictures/IMDB

Like in the Mean Girls cafeteria scene.

Do you like assigned seats at a wedding? Would it be strange if we assigned seats at our laid-back, mismatched-table fete?

03. April 2014 by Taryn
Categories: Guests, Logistics | Leave a comment

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