Wedding Etiquette Forum

Open Seating

I'm very torn about open vs assigned seating for my reception. My family has never had a reception with assigned seating. I'm a little worried that they will think I'm just being snobby. My mother is also very against it because she and I attended a very good friends wedding(the only wedding we've been to with assigned seating) where we were stuck in the very back corner where we couldn't see or hear anything. She was hurt by it and doesn't want to offend any of our guests that way. So I guess my question is can I still properly host my guests without assigning tables? I know I will need extra tables so families will not be split. How many extra tables? Any advise is appreciated.

Re: Open Seating

  • doeydodoeydo Southwestern Ontario member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited November 2013
    I would have assigned tables at the very least.  How formal is your wedding?  Jeans/uber casual, regular wedding/semi-formal, or really formal?  
    ETA how many guests are you inviting?
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    aurorajanettemelbelleup
  • doeydo said:
    I would have assigned tables at the very least.  How formal is your wedding?  Jeans/uber casual, regular wedding/semi-formal, or really formal?  
    ETA how many guests are you inviting?
    I agree with the bolded. Assigning table will save you money and resources, as you won't have to provide extra tables for people who have spread out. Not to mention that not adding those extra tables will save you room in your venue so that you don't have to have a table pushed up near a speaker with no view of what's happening.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • I would say it's somewhere in the middle not super casual but not super forma either. We're having 110 guests

  • doeydodoeydo Southwestern Ontario member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    I would say it's somewhere in the middle not super casual but not super forma either. We're having 110 guests

    Then yeah.  Assigned tables would be the way to go.
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    melbelleupPrettyGirlLostindianaalum
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    I prefer assigned 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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    PrettyGirlLost
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I'd assign tables.

    The experience you and your mother had was bad, yes, but it's not the case every time.  Good hosts do take the time to plan which people should sit or not sit together and take into consideration things like mobility issues, proximity to loud speakers, etc.
  • Definitely assigned tables...less awkward for guests.

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  • I'm very torn about open vs assigned seating for my reception. My family has never had a reception with assigned seating. I'm a little worried that they will think I'm just being snobby. My mother is also very against it because she and I attended a very good friends wedding(the only wedding we've been to with assigned seating) where we were stuck in the very back corner where we couldn't see or hear anything. She was hurt by it and doesn't want to offend any of our guests that way. So I guess my question is can I still properly host my guests without assigning tables? I know I will need extra tables so families will not be split. How many extra tables? Any advise is appreciated.
    This is one topic on which i go a little against the grain here.

    What is your FI's family used to?

    Both of our families have never attended weddings with assigned anything, and if we had started with ours people would have been very angry/offended/hurt at being told where to sit and we would have been "getting above our raising." So if neither of your families do them, I'd skip the assignments.

    However, if his family is used to them, you might need to figure out which group is in the majority and go from there. But in my opinion, it is easier for non-assigned group to understand assigned seating than it would be for a group used to assigned seating to cope with finding their own seats.

    We had two extra tables, which was enough for about 10% of our guest-list.
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    southernbelle0915
  • What's snobby about assigned tables? To me, it says, "We're preventing the awkwardness and clusterfucks. You're welcome."

    I could care less where the B&G sits me at a wedding. I can have a good time and enjoy myself from anywhere in the room. Besides, for the "big moments" like the first dance and cake cutting, people often stand and crowd around anyway. Other than that, what is there to miss? The B&G eating dinner? 
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  • AussieCat42AussieCat42 member
    Second Anniversary 25 Love Its 10 Comments Name Dropper
    edited November 2013
    bunni727 said:
    I'm very torn about open vs assigned seating for my reception. My family has never had a reception with assigned seating. I'm a little worried that they will think I'm just being snobby. My mother is also very against it because she and I attended a very good friends wedding(the only wedding we've been to with assigned seating) where we were stuck in the very back corner where we couldn't see or hear anything. She was hurt by it and doesn't want to offend any of our guests that way. So I guess my question is can I still properly host my guests without assigning tables? I know I will need extra tables so families will not be split. How many extra tables? Any advise is appreciated.
    This is one topic on which i go a little against the grain here.

    What is your FI's family used to?

    Both of our families have never attended weddings with assigned anything, and if we had started with ours people would have been very angry/offended/hurt at being told where to sit and we would have been "getting above our raising." So if neither of your families do them, I'd skip the assignments.

    However, if his family is used to them, you might need to figure out which group is in the majority and go from there. But in my opinion, it is easier for non-assigned group to understand assigned seating than it would be for a group used to assigned seating to cope with finding their own seats.

    We had two extra tables, which was enough for about 10% of our guest-list.
    I definitely agree with bunni727 here- we're considering assigned seating (because if we do plated meals we kinda have to), but doing so will cause fiance's family to talk, that's for sure. If both of your families are used to unassigned seating, you might stick with that. Plus (if you have a dramatic family), you don't run the risk of sitting Aunt Betty with Aunt Josephine who currently HATE each others guts even though they loved each other two weeks ago. Aunt Betty and Aunt Josephine can sit wherever the heck they want and if they sit with someone they don't like it's no-ones fault but their own. 

    The only other thing I'd keep in mind is unassigned seating works really well in big groups of people that all know each other- but if you're having a lot of people who don't really have a 'group', unassigned seating can be pretty intimidating. If it's one or two couples you might ask a friend to invite that couple to sit with them; but if there's quite a few people it might be better to go the route of assigned seating and deal with Mom's opinion about it.

    Edit:: In terms of how much extra seating to have, I would go anywhere between an extra 10%-15%
  • I'm very torn about open vs assigned seating for my reception. My family has never had a reception with assigned seating. I'm a little worried that they will think I'm just being snobby. My mother is also very against it because she and I attended a very good friends wedding(the only wedding we've been to with assigned seating) where we were stuck in the very back corner where we couldn't see or hear anything. She was hurt by it and doesn't want to offend any of our guests that way. So I guess my question is can I still properly host my guests without assigning tables? I know I will need extra tables so families will not be split. How many extra tables? Any advise is appreciated.

    This isn't because the tables were assigned...this is because the couple put a table in an inconvenient location, and then people had to sit there.  No one will be offended by your assigned tables as long as all of the tables have a decent view and none of them are up against the speakers or out of the range of the microphone or next to the kitchen door, etc.

     

    No matter how you do your tables, if one of them is in a bad location, whoever winds up sitting there will be mad, assigned or not.  And not every table can have the best view, but if you make sure they are all adequate, no one should be offended.

    SKPM
  • If your crowd is used to open seating, why are you torn about this? What is making you want to have assigned seating/tables that's making this a tough decision? If it's what both families are used to, I think it makes more sense to go this route. I had open seating at my wedding and loved it. There was no mass confusion, no clusterfucks, no seat stealing or other disasters that people warn/worry about. To answer your question about how much extra seating, we provided 10-15% extra in case people left a space between them/didn't fill the tables. This was the number recommended by multiple vendors. It worked great.

    However, if you don't have the room/budget for extra seating (you'll need extra tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, etc.), you want a more formal feel, his family isn't used to open seating, you're having a plated meal where it would be confusing for the servers, etc.... then I think you should at least assign tables.
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    [Deleted User]indianaalum
  • Agree with PPs... as long as you don't have some tables in another room, right next to the sound system speakers, by a draft, etc... with 100+ people I'd assign tables.

    I'm having trouble remembering a wedding with open seating that I've been to where it wasn't awkward.

    At one friend's wedding, my friend and I didn't know anyone else so we had to go around from table to table asking people if the seats at them were taken. We finally settled on one and the people there were nice, but later on a couple came by to say hi to the people at the table and we felt like maybe they were hoping to save the seats for them but were too nice to say anything to us. We felt bad the rest of the night.

    At another friend's wedding hubby and I snatched a completely empty table. One other couple came, leaving 6 seats... then, after almost all of the tables had filled up a party of 8 came to our table, just stood there, looking at all of us before passively aggressively saying, "I guess we'll have to find somewhere else to sit" and stomping off.

    At my co-workers' wedding: The tables seated 10. When my husband and I walked in, the table with everyone I knew already had 9 at it. We had to sit at a table that only had one other couple at it. It was awkward.

    My cousin's wedding: The only two open seats next to each other that we could find were at a table full of kids.


    I fully believe assigned tables solve way more awkwardness than they cause.
    If your entire guest list is accustomed to and expects open seating, that's another story. But if you have even some guests that won't know most of the attendees, I'd do assigned tables if for no other reason than making sure those guests are guaranteed to be seated with people they know / you think they'd get along with.
    indianaalum
  • auriannaaurianna member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited November 2013
    If your crowd is used to open seating, why are you torn about this? What is making you want to have assigned seating/tables that's making this a tough decision? If it's what both families are used to, I think it makes more sense to go this route. I had open seating at my wedding and loved it. There was no mass confusion, no clusterfucks, no seat stealing or other disasters that people warn/worry about. To answer your question about how much extra seating, we provided 10-15% extra in case people left a space between them/didn't fill the tables. This was the number recommended by multiple vendors. It worked great.

    Not asking to cause drama, but actually curious: How do you know for sure? Was your wedding small and/or everyone knew everyone?
    If everyone likes and knows everyone, then I could see open seating being pleasant.

    But I've had several poor experiences with open seating ranging from slightly awkward to very uncomfortable & making dinner not enjoyable. But in none of these instances did I ever tell anyone in the wedding party (or anyone at the wedding, for that matter) about my displeasure. So for all these brides know, their open seating plan went over without a hitch, when in fact, it caused discomfort to at least some of their guests.
  • aurianna said:
    If your crowd is used to open seating, why are you torn about this? What is making you want to have assigned seating/tables that's making this a tough decision? If it's what both families are used to, I think it makes more sense to go this route. I had open seating at my wedding and loved it. There was no mass confusion, no clusterfucks, no seat stealing or other disasters that people warn/worry about. To answer your question about how much extra seating, we provided 10-15% extra in case people left a space between them/didn't fill the tables. This was the number recommended by multiple vendors. It worked great.

    Not asking to cause drama, but actually curious: How do you know for sure? Was your wedding small and/or everyone knew everyone?
    If everyone likes and knows everyone, then I could see open seating being pleasant.

    But I've had several poor experiences with open seating ranging from slightly awkward to very uncomfortable & making dinner not enjoyable. But in none of these instances did I ever tell anyone in the wedding party (or anyone at the wedding, for that matter) about my displeasure. So for all these brides know, their open seating plan went over without a hitch, when in fact, it caused discomfort to at least some of their guests.
    I'm sorry to hear that you've had negative experiences that made you feel uncomfortable. 

    Not everyone knew each other at our wedding - no. Some of our family and friends had not met each other until the wedding. I think that's typical for a wedding. There were no "isolated couples" that we invited. In other words, every couple or single person knew at least 10-15 people at the wedding. 

    The style of our reception was conducive to open seating so it made sense for us. We did a strolling dinner with stations and lots of cocktail tables in addition to the open seating. A lot of our guests chose to mingle versus sitting down anyway. If we had done a plated meal, we probably would have made a seating chart. 
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  • I went to a wedding a few years ago with open seating. It was a work friend's wedding, and myself and another work friend were invited. We were both single, so we didn't have additional guests with us. During the reception, we found an empty table and sat down together, and then a group of 4 women came up to us and asked us if the seats were available. We thought that they were going to sit with us at the table... and then they each grabbed a chair and took them to another table across the room to be with friends. We were left with two chairs (that no one sat in) and it was embarrassing for us, since every other table was full. We felt like rejects. I never said anything to the bride though. I felt like it was water under the bridge.
  • APDSS22APDSS22 O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A is OK member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Most of the weddings I've been to had open seating and the amount of tables vs. groups of people who knew each other made sense.  We (husband and I) got to sit next to each other and with people we knew and didn't notice any awkward couples or singles mulling about looking for places.  At our own wedding, we had open seating with a couple extra tables so that people who knew each other could sit together.  We had about 80 people show up and plenty of room.  Most of the guests knew each other and neither family usually has assigned seating so it was a good fit for us.

    Now the one wedding we went to that had assigned seating...that was a completely different experience.  I wrote about it on the worst weddings thread.  We were assigned to a table in the back by a drafty door and were served food last, it was cold and gross.  The table next to us only had one person who showed up, so we invited her over to our table so she wouldn't have to sit alone.  If you do have assigned seating, I would be very careful about placement in the room as well as people who know each other.  No one deserves the drafty door table and gross, cold food.
  • Most of the weddings I've been to had open seating and the amount of tables vs. groups of people who knew each other made sense.  We (husband and I) got to sit next to each other and with people we knew and didn't notice any awkward couples or singles mulling about looking for places.  At our own wedding, we had open seating with a couple extra tables so that people who knew each other could sit together.  We had about 80 people show up and plenty of room.  Most of the guests knew each other and neither family usually has assigned seating so it was a good fit for us.

    Now the one wedding we went to that had assigned seating...that was a completely different experience.  I wrote about it on the worst weddings thread.  We were assigned to a table in the back by a drafty door and were served food last, it was cold and gross.  The table next to us only had one person who showed up, so we invited her over to our table so she wouldn't have to sit alone.  If you do have assigned seating, I would be very careful about placement in the room as well as people who know each other.  No one deserves the drafty door table and gross, cold food.


    Although I hate cold, gross food at weddings as much as the next person I wouldn't balme the B&G for that.  The food being cold meant a problem with the caterer.  As far as a drafty door that is poor planning in some ways but also the sign of a venue that doesn't care enough to fix the problem and puts tables there anyway. 

    I honestly have never been to a wedding with opening seating so I can't really give a preference.

  • I also vote for assigned seating, especially with the amount of guests you will be having.  open seating gets hectic IMO.  I only have been to one wedding with it and it was super annoying because everyone was afraid to sit at certain tables.  We finally sat and then people were like no you should sit there instead.. um, then assign the seats if you want me to sit somewhere specific! 
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    Anniversary
  • We had open seating and it went fine.  We had about 100 guests and plenty of extra tables.  My friends from work sat with each other, his friends of work sat with each other.  My family grabbed a bunch of tables together (huge family). His family did the same.  But then again, our friends and family were used to this arrangement.  

    If we had had a plated meal, assigned seating would have been done, like other PP's have said.  If both families are used to open seating and your comfortable with allowing it, then do it.  
  • APDSS22APDSS22 O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A is OK member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Most of the weddings I've been to had open seating and the amount of tables vs. groups of people who knew each other made sense.  We (husband and I) got to sit next to each other and with people we knew and didn't notice any awkward couples or singles mulling about looking for places.  At our own wedding, we had open seating with a couple extra tables so that people who knew each other could sit together.  We had about 80 people show up and plenty of room.  Most of the guests knew each other and neither family usually has assigned seating so it was a good fit for us.

    Now the one wedding we went to that had assigned seating...that was a completely different experience.  I wrote about it on the worst weddings thread.  We were assigned to a table in the back by a drafty door and were served food last, it was cold and gross.  The table next to us only had one person who showed up, so we invited her over to our table so she wouldn't have to sit alone.  If you do have assigned seating, I would be very careful about placement in the room as well as people who know each other.  No one deserves the drafty door table and gross, cold food.


    Although I hate cold, gross food at weddings as much as the next person I wouldn't balme the B&G for that.  The food being cold meant a problem with the caterer.  As far as a drafty door that is poor planning in some ways but also the sign of a venue that doesn't care enough to fix the problem and puts tables there anyway. 

    I honestly have never been to a wedding with opening seating so I can't really give a preference.

    The food likely wouldn't have been as cold if the bride and groom had picked a venue that was meant to fit as many tables as they had.  The servers had to wind their way through the room and we were furthest from where the food originated being in the middle very back of the room.  The drafty door was actually more the couple's fault since they picked a garden venue at a time of year that has cold, blustery weather more often than not.  We were in what I can only assume is a "just in case of rain" room for the venue.  My point is that the couple must take their guests' comfort into account when making up a seating chart so no one ends up feeling like they got the cheap seats.  If we had had open seating and picked that table, it would've at least been on us for picking that spot.
  • We are having open seating. We have the little place cards where people can grab their names and pick out their seats ahead of time.
    I like this idea!
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  • I'm sorry to hear that you've had negative experiences that made you feel uncomfortable. 

    Not everyone knew each other at our wedding - no. Some of our family and friends had not met each other until the wedding. I think that's typical for a wedding. There were no "isolated couples" that we invited. In other words, every couple or single person knew at least 10-15 people at the wedding. 

    The style of our reception was conducive to open seating so it made sense for us. We did a strolling dinner with stations and lots of cocktail tables in addition to the open seating. A lot of our guests chose to mingle versus sitting down anyway. If we had done a plated meal, we probably would have made a seating chart. 
    That sounds lovely. :)

    Know your audience and your event I guess.
  • auriannaaurianna member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited November 2013
    double post. sad.
  • I'm planning my second wedding. The first we had open seating, but we did have 2 tables reserved for family (2 for mine and 2 for his). We had about 200 people. It worked just fine and saved me the headache of dealing with it.
  • RJD5 said:
    I'm planning my second wedding. The first we had open seating, but we did have 2 tables reserved for family (2 for mine and 2 for his). We had about 200 people. It worked just fine and saved me the headache of dealing with it.
    Just make sure the people in the family know who's supposed to sit there.
    At my brother-in-law's wedding, it was open seating except for a few round tables at the front that said "reserved."
    But no one knew who exactly was supposed to sit there. Most of the aunts/uncles/cousins stayed away from them thinking they were for immediate family or reserved for people who knew they were supposed to sit there.
    So I sat with just my then-FMIL and FFIL (they did a head table and separated me from my FI), and a random aunt of the bride's... because no one was sitting in these tables. It was awkward...
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