Pros and Cons of Seating Arrangements
Your date is set, you have your dress or your tux ready to go. Your party favors are put together, you’ve decided on a menu and you’ve sent your final song choices to the DJ. It’s happening. All these months of planning and Pinterest are all coming together. Now it’s just a matter of the final details.
You’ve postponed it long enough. You are now faced with the dreaded question of “will I do seating arrangements??” If you have never done a seating arrangement before, you might be wondering why this is even a topic of discussion, but if you have in fact gone through the process, then you understand why.
There are several factors to consider before you make the decision whether or not to make seating arrangements.
First, know your options!
Know that you can do table assignments where you assign a certain group to ta table an allow them to sit in whatever chairs at that table that they wish. Or you could be more specific where you assign people to a certain chair at that table. Both are considered “seating arrangements.”
How many people??
How many people you have in attendance plays a huge role in making your decision. If you only have 20 guests at your wedding, chances are everyone is family or very close friends, and with a handful of tables, you don’t run the risk of anyone sitting “far” from the bride or groom. Essentially with a smaller group, the likelihood of them working out open seating on their own is very high and no one will necessarily get “stuck in the back” because everyone will be relatively close to the newlyweds.
On the flip side, if you have 200 guests at your wedding, doing open seating might pose a big unorganized problem amongst guests. With 20+ tables, you want to make sure the guests of honor (i.e. parents, immediate family, and bridal party) get seats closest to the couple, traditionally. Often times, these people are the last to enter the reception space due to the grand entrance or photos, so seating arrangements make sure they have the seats you want them to have.
One of the problems with open seating with large groups, is that if you have tables of 8 or 10, it is VERY rare and highly unlikely that each table will fill perfectly. Chances are 6 people will sit at one table, 7 will sit at another, and then you end up feeling like there wasn’t enough seating because there are 2 chairs here, 1 chair there, 3 over there. Groups get divided and it tends to feel unprepared.
Open seating, however, does allow room for error. Meaning: if you accidentally forget someone on the chart or last minute RSVP’s can sneak in without a problem and without having to completely redo the chart you created!
What type of dinner do you have?
Buffet vs. sit-down style dinners can also play a big role in whether to create seating arrangements or not. If you have a buffet style, you absolutely can have open seating. However, if you have a sit down style plated service dinner, especially with different entrees where guests have chosen their meals, you absolutely need seating arrangements, and even specific chair assignments so that the catering staff knows exactly which guests get which dinner.
If you have open seating with different entrée choices, it will add unnecessary time to dinner and cause confusion for the staff. Often times, the caterer will ask for seating arrangements prior to the wedding so they can prepare the staff for service to make it as organized and seamless as possible.
If you are doing something completely different, say appetizers only, then you probably don’t want formal dining and therefore stay away from seating arrangements so it does not feel formal and guests aren’t expecting a full dinner.
Which option is more suitable for the venue?
May seem strange but your venue could play a factor in seating as well. Simply put, if you do open seating, chances are you may want to set up an extra table or two for the reasons listed above. It never works out where the right amount of people evenly place themselves at each table.
Check with your venue and make sure there is space allowances for extra tables. There might be a maximum for the allotted dinning space which means you may need to do seating arrangements to avoid the hassle of feeling like there isn’t enough seating.
Regardless, tell your planner!
Keep your wedding planner in the loop with all the decisions of your day. But be sure to let them know whether or not you will be providing seating arrangements for your guests. That way if we need more tables, they can be sure to let the staff know and order extra linens. In addition, they can be prepared with an easel or an extra table to properly display the arrangement as well! Also, they can be in the loop with how you want the tables numbered which makes set up easy for you!
All in all, I guess you could say it completely depends on a few things to give advice about whether or not to go through the hassle of making seating assignments. Depending on the size of your party, it can be very difficult and time consuming to create a seating assignment. However, if you have a large crowd or even a small crowd with sit-down style dinner service, seating assignments are critical to make your wedding day look polished, organized and comfortable!!