Wedding Reception Forum

Are seating charts necessary?

We have our guest list finalized and my FMIL said that we should start getting a rough a idea on the seating charts. We weren't planning on doing that. We were going to have two tables set aside, one for his parents and grandparents and one for mine, and then let everyone else sit where they want. So I was just curious how other people felt about seating charts. Do you think they are necessary and do you plan on having one?

Re: Are seating charts necessary?

  • I would say look at your guest list. I attended a wedding a few months ago with a VERY diverse guest list - many people didn't know each other - and there was no seating chart. So when everyone had to go choose seats, it ended up feeling a little bit like a high school cafeteria - people would stand around awkwardly, or you ended up with one seat at a table where 2 were needed... but if most of your guests on each side know each other, you might avoid that because people will naturally form their tables.

    FWIW, our guest list is all over the place with probably 150 of the 190 guests being OOT - so we are doing a seating chart simply because we want to avoid the awkwardness that could accompany so many people that don't know each other. Just my two cents :)
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  • There's actually a thread somewhere in here about that - I think last month - where people gave their opinions on this. Some crowds expect seating charts and it'd be weird not to have one in their circle and other circles never have seating charts. 

    I did not have a seating chart. We did exactly like you describe, we had a sweetheart table with two banquet tables flanking it for our WP. Then we each had a family table reserved (I have a really handicapped aunt and DH has an elderly grandmother with mobility limitations) to accommodate a few guests we knew needed special attention. Otherwise, it was open seating. We provided 10-15% extra tables/chairs in case people left a space between them or didn't fill up a table. I highly recommend doing this so that you can ensure everyone has a seat and there's more than enough space. 

    If you have a crowd that's used to seating charts, this might be confusing or uncomfortable for them. Consider that since it sounds like your FI's side might be a "seating chart" crowd.

    Maybe a happy compromise is to just assign tables and people can pick their seats at a specific table.
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  • Thanks southern belle I'll look for that thread. Actually I've been to several weddings for his family and none of them have had seating charts. Now that I'm thinking about it though I do remember my FMIL complaining that there were no seating charts so maybe it's just a thing for her. Lol. If it is a big deal to her we can work out some sort of compromise. We just didn't want to go through the trouble since only family and our really close friends are coming.
  • How many people are you having?  Buffet or sit down? I think it can work without a seating chart, but if you're having more than 100 people I would make a seating chart. This allows people to sit with who they want and not fight over tables.
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  • I went to a wedding a few weeks ago without any direction as to where to sit & we were scrambling to find a table, not get stuck with people we didn't know, mark our table, and then begin enjoying ourselves. It's more work for the bride/groom/hosts, but as a guest, I would much rather enjoy myself than hustle around for a table.
    indianaalum
  • It is less than a hundred people... 85 all together. We haven't decided on food yet but we're leaning towards horderves, since the wedding is in the middle of the day.
  • doeydodoeydo Southwestern Ontario member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I prefer at least assigned tables with a table chart.
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    Jen4948
  • I am doing table assignments (not particular seats at the table) because I have different sets of friends that I know will and will not get along very well. I don't want the new parents with a baby to "get stuck" at the singles party table. One of my friend's husbands is super obnoxious and inappropriate at all times so I want to make sure my good friends who are flying 3,000 miles are not subjected to sitting near him! 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    doeydo said:
    I prefer at least assigned tables with a table chart.
    So do I.  I don't want to walk around looking for a seat only to hear that an empty seat is "taken" for someone who isn't sitting in it.  I want to do this even less when the reception is a buffet and I'm carrying a plate or tray of food.
  • I've been reading some of the seating chart threads and I still don't know what I want to do. Lol. It's all good though. I have plenty of time to decide. We're a pretty tight knit group so there won't be anyone there who doesn't know someone else. Also there is no bad blood between anyone in our families. The friends we invited are all part of our group, meaning that we all hang together in a group all the time.
    HaileyDancingbear
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    I prefer assigned tables. It just makes it so much easier for everyone. Do all of your friends know all of your family members? Do all of your family members know all of his family members? There's always the potential for that awkwardness of groups of, say,  3 friends being together and the only seats they find are 2 here and 1 over there, and they are all with people they don't know.

     
    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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  • I don't know if they all know eachother but a good chunk of them do. We have had several parties at our house and have invited all the same people so they have all mingled together before.
  • melbensomelbenso Hoth, apparently member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    edited December 2013
    I have been to weddings both with and without seating charts.  My preference is for assigned tables, but sitting anywhere at that table - it's just weird to be directed to a specific seat, plus I've never been to a wedding where the exact seat a person is in mattered, unless for food service.  I think of it more as a courtesy for guests. 

    I don't think open seating is bad, per se, but I have been to a wedding or two with open seating where my date and I didn't know anyone other than the bride and groom and it was pretty awkward to walk up to a table of people we had never met who clearly knew each other for years and ask if we could sit with them.  If you don't think this would be an issue at your wedding though, I wouldn't worry too much about it.  But do make sure your venue has the room for a few extra tables, because it is unlikely that everyone will perfectly fill into the exact number of seats as guests if they have to seat themselves.

    I plan to do assigned tables, which is also required by my venue for food service purposes since we are doing a plated meal. (If you are doing a served plated meal, you may want to check that too - our venue requires assigned tables and food choice on the escort card, but some may even require assigned seats for this purpose.)  I also plan to do my best to make sure that tables with groups that know each other are somewhat close to each other.  For example, assuming all of my invited coworkers come, there will be too many of them to be seated at one table, but not enough for two full tables.  I hope to put them at two tables that are close to each other so that they can talk easily.

    Also, if you are just doing heavy hors d'oeuvres, rather than a meal, open seating is less of an issue because people mill about a lot more.  The only weddings where I have found open seating really works for all the guests is when hors d'oeuvres are served rather than a meal and there are more open seats than guests.
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  • HaileyDancingbearHaileyDancingbear Arkham Asylum member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    I think it really depends on the group of people you're inviting, and your personal tastes.
    I personally don't want to do seating charts.  I think it's odd to tell a bunch of adults where they have to sit (especially when the "bad blood" reason is brought up- if two people hate each other I'd imagine they wouldn't want to sit next to each other in the first place) and my wedding isn't going to be big enough for it to be very confusing.  Also, I don't want to force anyone to mingle, but I don't want to separate my family from my FI's family.  If members from each family want to sit together, that's great.  I also know the friends we'd be inviting are very free-spirited and I feel they'd prefer to choose where they sit, and I'd feel weird telling them where to sit.  
    One big con about not assigning seats, though, is that "Lunchroom" situation a lot of knotties describe.  I can imagine it'd be confusing figuring out which seats are/are not taken or where the people you want to sit with are.  I'm thinking I can remove a good amount of the confusion by putting out place cards for people to grab that only have their names on them, so they can choose their seat and everyone will know which seats are taken, and by who.  Again, though, I am hoping for a small wedding so there wouldn't be too many people looking for seats.  I could imagine that with a crowd in the triple digits it could get tough.
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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I think it really depends on the group of people you're inviting, and your personal tastes.
    I personally don't want to do seating charts.  I think it's odd to tell a bunch of adults where they have to sit (especially when the "bad blood" reason is brought up- if two people hate each other I'd imagine they wouldn't want to sit next to each other in the first place) and my wedding isn't going to be big enough for it to be very confusing.  Also, I don't want to force anyone to mingle, but I don't want to separate my family from my FI's family.  If members from each family want to sit together, that's great.  I also know the friends we'd be inviting are very free-spirited and I feel they'd prefer to choose where they sit, and I'd feel weird telling them where to sit.  
    One big con about not assigning seats, though, is that "Lunchroom" situation a lot of knotties describe.  I can imagine it'd be confusing figuring out which seats are/are not taken or where the people you want to sit with are.  I'm thinking I can remove a good amount of the confusion by putting out place cards for people to grab that only have their names on them, so they can choose their seat and everyone will know which seats are taken, and by who.  Again, though, I am hoping for a small wedding so there wouldn't be too many people looking for seats.  I could imagine that with a crowd in the triple digits it could get tough.
    Unfortunately for me, my BF (we're not yet engaged but we're close to it) wants to invite two guys with no social grace (and one of them he wants to be a groomsman!) and I haven't been able to talk him out of it.  The groomsman has problems with several other people we want to invite, including another girl who is a friend of ours that he wanted to date and an ex of hers.  She and the ex get along well, but the groomsman being near them is like a time bomb going off.  The groomsman also used to work for the husband of a close friend of my mother's and was fired.  Again, another potential time bomb.

    The other guy my BF wants to invite has a tendency to no-show at events, including the wedding of another friend of ours, who no longer speaks to this guy.  On her wedding day, this guy called my BF to tell him to tell our other friend that he couldn't make it to her wedding because he was starting a new job that day (after he RSVPd yes).  I do want to invite the other friend and her husband because they're close friends of me and my BF, but they've always made a point of not wanting to attend events my BF invites them to against the possibility that the no-show guy will be there.  That's fine for birthdays and minor events, but our wedding is not a minor event.

    Since I can't talk my BF out of inviting these clods, the best we can do is make seating arrangements that will hopefully keep them away from each other as much as possible.  These people truly can't be trusted to find seats away from each other and keep their problems with each other to themselves.
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