Reception Ideas

Looking for opinions/suggestions on assigned seating?

Hello! For my wedding this December we are having a buffet style dinner. Do I need to make a seating chart and assign all of my guests a seat? I have also thought about simply assigning everyone a specific table...I have only been to one or two very informal weddings as an adult and I really have no idea how to go about this! Thank you for your help!


KnotRileyLindsey2016Knottie89915581
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Re: Looking for opinions/suggestions on assigned seating?

  • I am having a buffet and so I'm not doing assigned seats, but I am doing assigned tables.  So I'll still have escort cards but once someone is at their table, they can sit anywhere at that table.  

    I figure if I didn't do that, people would be sitting randomly and then there may be an empty chair at one table and an empty chair at another table, and the last couple coming in would get screwed.  
    Married 9.12.15
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    [Deleted User]japrincess24Lindsey2016
  • Hello! For my wedding this December we are having a buffet style dinner. Do I need to make a seating chart and assign all of my guests a seat? I have also thought about simply assigning everyone a specific table...I have only been to one or two very informal weddings as an adult and I really have no idea how to go about this! Thank you for your help!


    The previous poster is correct.  You should assign tables.  Escort cards are a great way to do this.  Put everyone's name on a card with their table number.  That way you can have a reasonable number of people per table, without people dragging chairs and place settings because they want to sit with someone else.  And you won't have empty tables with only 2 or 4 people because everyone else went and moved their chairs.  You can arrange to have people who like each other sitting at the same table, people who don't like each other seated across the room from each other, and can put people who might not know anybody at a table where they're likely to have something in common with others.
  • Is your family used to open seating style receptions? If not, I think you should at least assign tables. It's easier for people who find open seating odd.

    The other thing to consider with open seating is that you have to have at least 15% extra tables/chairs since people will leave space between themselves and not fill tables. That can put a strain on your space and also your budget because it means more equipment, more linens, more centerpieces, more place settings, etc. 

    So basically, unless this is typical in your circle, you want to spend the extra money, and you have the extra space, then you should at least assign tables.  
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    PrettyGirlLost
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    Assign tables. It lets your guests know that there will be a place for everyone to sit and put their things down so they don't have to walk around like in a school cafeteria, carrying heavy trays of food and drinks, looking for places to sit.

    A lot of times when there is open seating, what happens is that people "reserve" seats at their tables and prevent others who need seats from sitting down or putting their things down, thus forcing them to walk around looking for seats at other tables. It can be a really unpleasant experience, especially for those guests who don't know others at the reception besides one or both of the couple.
    [Deleted User]japrincess24
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall
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    Assign tables.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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  • Ditto PPs. Assign tables. Specific seating assignments are often used in plated meals. For a buffet, tables should be just fine. 

    Try to group people by relationship or commonality. Do not, for the love of all that is holy, create a "singles table" where you place all of your single guests simply because they are single. That is super awkward and uncomfortable. Good luck!
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    [Deleted User]miranda1227Lindsey2016adwks
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs
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    Another vote for assinging tables. 

  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair
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    This is a know your crowd type of thing.  If your family and friends are used to open seating events, then go for it, as long as you provide extra tables and chairs like Southern suggested.

    Open seating isn't popular on these boards, but the most excruciating wedding dinners I've ever been to had assigned seating.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    LittleWohlscheid
  • We assigned tables, not chairs. First it reduces a lot of stress on your part. And it helps to make sure that guests that get along the best will sit together. Example, that young couple who gets there late, sitting at a table with all your older relatives, how much fun will they have compared to sitting with a table of people they know or may be closer in age?

    Tip on figuring out seating, get a large poster board and draw circles on it. Then as you get your RSVP in, write the guests names on the post it tabs and attach to your board. Then when you go to do your seating you can move the post its tabs around as needed. Then once you have the tables figure out, then assign table numbers based on where you want each grouping to be in the room.

    miranda1227
  • kvrunskvruns
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    I planned on open seating because it seemed silly to assign seats/tables for a small reception, especially when we weren't going to have extra tables and a worry of one couple sitting by themselves (happened at my brother's wedding). But then I thought about people worrying about getting seats with friends, especially since in a few cases a couple only knew one other couple there so we did assigned tables.  It was really easy to do and only had 1-2 tables that were a mix of people  who hadn't met before. We were able to put people together who knew each other or had common interests to make it fit well.

    Granted we didn't have the drama some have about X not wanting to sit anywhere near family member Y so it was pretty easy to do.

  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!)
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    Assign tables.  Nothing worse than walking around trying to find an open table, especially if you don't know many people.  My social anxiety!
  • I had open seating. No assigned tables or chairs.  But, I also had lots of extra space and seating.    We could have accommodated about 170 people for only about 130 guests, so no one had to worry about getting a seat next to their spouse or date or having to sit with someone they didn't like.   
    PrettyGirlLostlyndausvionefootinthebayou
  • I just attended a wedding with an open seating plan, and it was a nightmare for many of the reasons listed above.  The groom's parents ended up sitting at a table alone with their daughter because there wasn't room at any of the other tables for three people.
    miranda1227
  • I am doing open seating. Call me lazy but I am not about to stress myself figuring out whom should sit with whome
    Knottie1439300019
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
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    I am doing open seating. Call me lazy but I am not about to stress myself figuring out whom should sit with whome
    I really don't care what you do, but doing a seating chart was not stressful for me.   Like, at all.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    edited July 2015

    I am doing open seating. Call me lazy but I am not about to stress myself figuring out whom should sit with whome

    So you'll pass the stress of having to look for "unreserved" seats on to your guests. Don't expect them to appreciate it.
    MandyMost
  • I refer assigned seating I had a friend do a buffet with no assigned seating...Buffet style or not is sucks because sometimes you end up not siting near people you want to sit by or your not sitting by people you even know or even your age group and then the dinner is a little awkward. Also it was a hard to find a seat! Maybe no assign the exact seat but definitely which table to go to. You could always opt to do a poster or picture frame type idea instead of place cards bc the printing of place cards can sometimes be a pain.
  • We are doing a heavy hors d'ouvres reception, and we are still doing assigned seating. I just know when I go to a wedding, I like to know I have a seat and not wander around until I find an open one. Or have to awkwardly ask someone if they would scoot over because everyone chose to have one seat between them and another guest. One idea (we are doing this at least) is to put a copy of the seating chart on the back of the program for the ceremony. Will everyone look at it? No, probably not, but I'm sure some will. We are having boards on easels at the reception with a tag to take with their table assignment.

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    Jen4948
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
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    I am doing open seating. Call me lazy but I am not about to stress myself figuring out whom should sit with whome
    I hope a lot of your guests bypass purchasing a gift for you, since it would be stressful trying to figure out what to purchase, or how much cash to gift. Your guests are taking the time and perhaps a little stress to attend your wedding. You should reciprocate by being a good host. Our seating chart took about 30 minutes and 10% stress. Some of your guests will spend at least that amount of time making a gift selection for you.
    switSwoo00[Deleted User]miranda1227Jen4948
  • "I hope a lot of your guests bypass purchasing a gift for you, since it would be stressful trying to figure out what to purchase, or how much cash to gift. Your guests are taking the time and perhaps a little stress to attend your wedding. You should reciprocate by being a good host. Our seating chart took about 30 minutes and 10% stress. Some of your guests will spend at least that amount of time making a gift selection for you."

    Lol I love this response.

  • Assign tables.. my moms friends are like high school drama queens, and I managed to make a chart in about 20 minutes... There is a tool on here you can make a floor plan and add people to tables quickly and easily.. Just the thought open seating, especially if I didn't know everyone, makes me panicky.
  • edited August 2015
    MobKaz said:



    I am doing open seating. Call me lazy but I am not about to stress myself figuring out whom should sit with whome



    "I hope a lot of your guests bypass purchasing a gift for you, since it would be stressful trying to figure out what to purchase, or how much cash to gift.

    Your guests are taking the time and perhaps a little stress to attend your wedding. You should reciprocate by being a good host. Our seating chart took about 30 minutes and 10% stress. Some of your guests will spend at least that amount of time making a gift selection for you."

    That's a really mean thing to wish on someone- you can be a good host and still have open seating.

    We chose open seating and it went fine. Both of us have families who are used to it and had extra seating. It's definitely a know your circle, know your venue thing. Personally, I've always preferred being able to choose my seat and appreciate it when I'm a guest.
    sunflowersandcurlsKnottie1439300019
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    edited August 2015
    I am doing open seating. Call me lazy but I am not about to stress myself figuring out whom should sit with whome
    "I hope a lot of your guests bypass purchasing a gift for you, since it would be stressful trying to figure out what to purchase, or how much cash to gift. Your guests are taking the time and perhaps a little stress to attend your wedding. You should reciprocate by being a good host. Our seating chart took about 30 minutes and 10% stress. Some of your guests will spend at least that amount of time making a gift selection for you."
    That's a really mean thing to wish on someone- you can be a good host and still have open seating. We chose open seating and it went fine. Both of us have families who are used to it and had extra seating. It's definitely a know your circle, know your venue thing. Personally, I've always preferred being able to choose my seat and appreciate it when I'm a guest.

    I don't agree that you can be a "good host and still have open seating" at a wedding of any kind of formality.  In that instance, good hosting includes taking the time to figure out where people should sit, not expecting them to walk around looking for seats that haven't already been "taken."  This has happened at every single event I've ever been to with open seating-someone sits down and declares the whole table off-limits to everyone else looking for seats-except for an "elite/chosen" few.  And that leaves people who don't know anyone else at a disadvantage.

    And if the reception has buffet or station service, it's even less considerate of your guests to force people to hunt for "untaken" seats while carrying heavy trays of food, especially while dressed up and perhaps wearing high heels.

    Even if the wedding is informal, just do your guests a favor and assign tables-don't make them hunt for seats.  That tells them that you took the time to consider their needs to be able to put their things down and sit down without having to look for seats that aren't "taken."

    [Deleted User]Knottie80779227
  • I should clarify that, while relatively formal, my ceremony and reception were in the same room and people sat at their tables for the ceremony. We only reserved for immediate family.

    But again, know your circle and venue. In your circle it may go unappreciated, but in mine is fine. I provided food, drinks, music, and more than enough seats for people to sit by who they would like. People enjoyed themselves. In my eyes, those are the biggest qualifications for being a good host. Just letting OP know that it can vary. :)
    Knottie1439300019
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    I should clarify that, while relatively formal, my ceremony and reception were in the same room and people sat at their tables for the ceremony. We only reserved for immediate family. But again, know your circle and venue. In your circle it may go unappreciated, but in mine is fine. I provided food, drinks, music, and more than enough seats for people to sit by who they would like. People enjoyed themselves. In my eyes, those are the biggest qualifications for being a good host. Just letting OP know that it can vary. :)
    People may not have enjoyed having to look for seats, but just didn't tell you so. Silence on the matter doesn't equal agreement with it. 
    [Deleted User]MobKaz
  • Jen4948 said:

    True. The same can be said either way. I still wouldn't go around assuming they're a bad host, regardless. My opinion is based on what I was told, personal preference, and the fact that my family/friends keep doing open seating. There's not a definitive right or wrong- only opinions. I'm just letting OP know one of them. Yours is different and that's okay, too.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    True. The same can be said either way. I still wouldn't go around assuming they're a bad host, regardless. My opinion is based on what I was told, personal preference, and the fact that my family/friends keep doing open seating. There's not a definitive right or wrong- only opinions. I'm just letting OP know one of them. Yours is different and that's okay, too.
    Glad to agree to disagree! ;)
  • I'm curious to know the thoughts of your FI, his family, and your family on the matter?  Even if they remain silent on matters regarding your wedding, they usually will still have an opinion.  If they are in favor or assigned seating, you'll have to do assigned seating, but because it was their choice, they have to help. 

    If it is simply the stress of having to put together a seating chart, ask your FI, his/your parents, or BP to assist in putting it together.  You could make a fun evening of it.  If you have a FMIL who lives
    nearby, take the chart over one night and go over their side with her.  She will appreciate your wanting to include her/ listen to her input.  It also can give you an opportunity to learn more about their guests.  I don't know about you, but it is always awkward when the B&G come around and one of them has no idea who you are...

    If it is wanting the reception to feel more relaxed, and open seating happens regularly within your group of guests, you can go for it.  It is your and FI's day.  If open seating reflects your personalities, go for it, but with caution.

    I advise against doing completely open seating.  Think about who the last people arriving to the reception will be... most likely whoever stayed behind to do your wedding photos.  Give them the courtesy of reserving several tables, since they are your VIP's.  You will need to have about 20% extra seating.

    Discuss this with your venue.  Does your venue have a protocol for assigned seating?  Will they charge you more for having extra seats to be more accommodating for open seating? Is it worth the extra charge? Will they require you to pay for an extra meal?   Some venues actually do all of the place cards etc. for the reception.  Will they have enough space to accommodate the extra seating, or will it cut into a dance floor, cocktail hour etc?  You may find it is more cost-effective to do assigned seating.

    I went to a wedding where it was a cross between assigned seating and open seating.  The B&G reserved multiple tables (depending on the size of the group) for different guest circles (College Friends,  Family, Co-Workers etc.) It allowed for us to generally know the people we were sitting near, but we made the decision of exactly who we sat with.  It still allowed the guests to be near people they knew, even if they ended up at a different table.

    Remember, even if you do assigned seating (table or chair) there can still be bumps.  I've been to a wedding where our table had "8" assignments, but only 7 chairs (venue fault or unresponded guest, not sure).  I've also been to a wedding where they had a board with table assignments and place cards for seating, and our placecards were on the wrong table.  Mistakes/goofs happen, and if your guests love you, they will roll with the punches.

    Whatever you decide, make sure it is the best decision for you and FI.  You're guests will not complain (if they do, they are thoughtless and rude). It is your day, and since you are torn, this is a decision to make together.  This is your wedding day, do what will make you happier.  If your guests having a great time at your wedding makes you happy (it should), then think about what will make them happier.  This is a very "know your crowd" decision, and while most people on here prefer assigned seating, you ultimately know your guests better than any of us do.
  • I am doing open seating. Call me lazy but I am not about to stress myself figuring out whom should sit with whome

    Oh my goodness, this is exactly the kind of "fancy but incorrect" grammar I would expect from someone who plans a wedding, but only cuts the "stressors" that have to do with guest comfort. It's like sipping Lipton tea with your pinky up.

    (I almost never point out grammar on forums, since typos abound, but this was too good. "Who should sit with whom" is correct, FWIW.)
  • I've never been to a wedding that hasn't had assigned tables. I've also never been to a wedding that assigned be a specific seat, only a table number. If you're reception is small (say less than 30 people), then they can probably manage to seat and arrange themselves. Anything larger, just give them a table to sit at. If you know your guests (and you should, since it's your wedding), putting that at tables really shouldn't be as difficult as you may have originally thought. People tend to fall in place based on their relationship to you or your fiance. If you're really against taking a day to put everyone at a table, then it would be a must to have extra seating so that you aren't left with a couple who cannot find a spot together because some people left spaces in between them.
    InLoveInQueens
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