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Guests sitting at reception tables during ceremony

For those of you doing this, how are you ensuring your guests get to sit where they want/know what's going on?  While I disliked this idea at first, it's really the best choice for our wedding.  We're having the ceremony at the reception venue, and while a flip would be possible, it would also mean 170 guests standing around outside/in the hallway/in line for a drink/etc. while the flip was carried out.  The owner of our venue said he's had several weddings like this there and they were great.   We want to reserve some of the closer up tables for family.  However, I'm freaking out about it as I've never been to one!  Anyone planning something similar have any tips to try to make it go smoothly?  Or anyone been to a wedding like this and what did you hate/appreciate about it?  Thanks in advance. 

Re: Guests sitting at reception tables during ceremony

  • Have assigned seating.
  • Ditto V6.I don't have any advice, but I've only heard good things about doing the ceremony this way.
  • Would there be an aisle laid out for the ceremony?  This sounds like a good idea, and I agree that assigned seating would be the best solution.
  • I've been to a wedding like this.  The tables weren't assigned.  Just like in a traditional setting, people left tables up close open for the family.  However, there'd be nothing wrong with putting signs on the table that say 'Reserved for Family.'  Just make sure you tell the family members you want there to sit there.  
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  • I went to a wedding like this.  There was no assigned seating, like there wouldn't be for a buffet reception. She had more tables than she needed (she figured 7 people per table instead of 10) so that where tables weren't full there wan't a problem.  There was a split in the tables for an aisle, and all reserved tables were clearly marked.  They did have ushers that showed groups to tables to help with the confusion.  It wasn't too bad. Just a little awkward because the whole wedding party left the room at the end of the ceremony, waited a couple minutes, then were announced back inside.  But other than the awkward transition, it worked fine.
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  • We are doing this as well, but assigning tables, not seats. 
  • We are doing this, too.  We will mark a few tables "reserved," but probably not assigning the rest of the seating (most people there will know plenty of others).  I haven't put a whole lot of thought into it, but I think it might work better if, in addition to creating an aisle, tables are staggered so that people can see.  I really think, though, that people will find a way to see.  We are using this approach because we have a couple of family members who would be in "the processional," but have pretty severe health problems and aren't that mobile, so it keeps them from having to move from place to place.
  • Thanks for the replies!  Yes, we're creating an aisle in the middle of the room and the tables are somewhat staggered.  I'm leaning towards not having assigned seating - it's a buffet meal, sounds like a lot of extra work, etc. - but I won't totally rule it out either!
  • I haven't been to a wedding like this, but just for the record most weddings I've been to with buffets have had assigned tables, including ours. I didn't want to at first because it seemed like a lot of work, but honestly I'm so glad I did, it made the whole reception go more smoothly.  If you decide not to assign tables, definitely make sure you have more than enough tables since they definitely won't fill up, like PP said. 
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  • My cousin had a wedding like this and it went fine.  Everyone had assigned tables, and we were just able to turn our chairs toward where the ceremony occurred.  Everything went very smoothly.
  • We are doing this as well because we liked the space so much we didn't want to switch.  We are placing an aisle down the middle and assigning tables.  The ushers will escort them to their tables.I have never been to a wedding like this but our venue has done them and says it works out great.We are utilizing a separate space for the bar and dancing that guests will retire to while we snap photos and put the head table where we were all just standing.
  • Just for another perspective: I've been to one wedding set up like this. It went fine. But I didn't like it. I could sort of see, but not really. I couldn't take pictures without getting a bunch of people's heads in them. It seemed forced or artificial. But, you aren't going to please everyone, so don't try. Also, if you don't assign seats, make sure you have an extra table or two so people can seat themselves comfortably.
  • Ditto V6.  My ceremony and reception will be in the same room and the venue will be setting up the table's normal chairs for the ceremony to create an aisle in the middle of the room.  (It's kind of giant.)  When the guests leave for cocktails (and we're having pictures) the venue will replace the seats at the tables.
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