Etiquette

Who isn't doing a seating plan?

Hi everyone!

Long time lurker, first time poster.  I'm marrying my Nigerian/Scottish prince soon!  We want to combine caribbean/scottish/african culture in our wedding. The wedding is in England. I was born in England and FI has lived here since he was 16.

Now, the current big issue for us is seating plan.  My mother said we shouldn't have one because the guest list is soooo big and it would be too difficult to put together. We are having about 400 people. My family is used to sitting themselves at big events without a plan, but FI is unsure.  

I thought reserving a table for the WP would be enough and allowing all the families/friends to sit themselves. We are having the wedding/reception in the same room at our banqueting suite. The guests will be watching our ceremony 'dinner-theatre' style. The room is really big and there is a enough space for a dance-floor, dj and cocktail hour in the back section of the room.

I hate gaps and this is a good idea for us budget and comfort wise.

Have you guys seen open seating done well? How would you react if you went to a wedding without a seating plan?
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Re: Who isn't doing a seating plan?

  • Hi everyone!

    Long time lurker, first time poster.  I'm marrying my Nigerian/Scottish prince soon!  We want to combine caribbean/scottish/african culture in our wedding. The wedding is in England. I was born in England and FI has lived here since he was 16.

    Now, the current big issue for us is seating plan.  My mother said we shouldn't have one because the guest list is soooo big and it would be too difficult to put together. We are having about 400 people. My family is used to sitting themselves at big events without a plan, but FI is unsure.  

    I thought reserving a table for the WP would be enough and allowing all the families/friends to sit themselves. We are having the wedding/reception in the same room at our banqueting suite. The guests will be watching our ceremony 'dinner-theatre' style. The room is really big and there is a enough space for a dance-floor, dj and cocktail hour in the back section of the room.

    I hate gaps and this is a good idea for us budget and comfort wise.

    Have you guys seen open seating done well? How would you react if you went to a wedding without a seating plan?
    I have only been to a few open seating weddings and TBH none have gone well. People save seats, leave one or two seats open at tables, people have to sit with strangers, move people's belongings to accommodate friends; generally it tends not to go as well as you would hope. 

    Especially with that many people I think a seating chart is a must have. You don't want everyone walking in to the ceremony/seating area, not knowing where to sit, taking time to try and find a place to sit with their friends while you're all ready to start the ceremony and get married. Making the seating chart can be a hassle, but definitely not as big of a hassle as people trying to figure out where to sit. 
    thisismynickname2InLoveInQueenscowgirl8238
  • edited December 2016
    MandyMost said:
    I have seen open seating done, but I've never seen it done well.

    The biggest reason that I've never seen it done well is there have never been enough seats. If you assign seats, you know every seat will be filled in. If you're not assigning seats, people aren't going to fill every seat. If there are 4 people at an 8-person table that you don't know, you're not going to sit with them and you're going to start your own table. So if you're going open seating for a 400-person wedding, I'd think you'd need tables for 500.

    It would be rude for you to reserve seating for some people (i.e. the wedding party, or immediate family) and not everyone. This is like saying "Hey, I know it's convenient to have a reserved seat, that's why we did it for these important people. But we don't care enough to do it for you too". 

    And finally, a seating chart is really not that hard. Even with a 400-person guest list. First, assign everyone a category--bride's family, groom's family, bride's college friends, bride's high school friends, mother of the bride's friends, etc. Then just sort each category into table-sized groups (probably 6-10 people, depending on the size of your tables). If you have "left overs" in a category, put them with "left overs" from another category that makes sense (i.e. your college friends with his college friends, not your college friends with his conservative and religious great aunt). Even with a 400-person guest list I can't imagine this should take you more than an hour or two to do. 
    The venue I'm using has seats for 600 people, so extra seats is not a problem. Your idea about the guest list is really good. However, it would only work if I knew the names of each guest. I know this will sound weird but in our culture, family members often bring extra guests with them to weddings/funerals/any large social event because tracking down my full extended family is difficult because they are soooo many of them. I have 25 aunts and uncles in total, so you can imagine how big my family can get. My FI also has a big family.


    For example, my aunt recently died and her niece (my cousin) invited about 70 people to the funeral.  She was nervous that people wouldn't attend (because it was at short notice) and she told about 70 members to tell 'whoever wanted to come, can come.' She invited 70, about 400 turned up. I'm doing a similar method to make sure my family will come. I will invite more than 70, I've tracked down quite a few (and still counting). However there will be an element of word of mouth involved in my wedding invites. 

    To cut a long story short, I won't know the name of every guest and I didn't want to do a seating chart that includes some names and then says everyone else sit at the available overflow tables. My mother feels that would be rude.

    Also my family are not good at responding to RSVP, so at best the size of my wedding guests will be an estimated guess! I know, super weird!

    Sorry for the long post.


  • If you truly don't know how many people will show up to your wedding, let alone who those people may be, then I think the seating chart is the least of your problems.  How are you going to feed all those people?  If you get a couple of last-minute "crashers," caterers can typically accommodate with an extra meal or two.  But with swings in the dozens/hundreds that's absurd! 

    But if you are locked into this format I guess the best way to proceed is to just put seating out of your mind since there is no way to do anything about it anyway.  I think open seating is generally a very bad idea, but if you have no other option it's not worth dwelling on.
    InLoveInQueens
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    edited December 2016
    At weddings and other big occasions I've been to where there was open seating, what I've seen are people "reserve" tables and force those who don't have anyone to hold the tables for them walk from table to table asking "Is this seat taken?" In several instances, where there were buffets or food stations, they had to do it while carrying heavy trays of food and beverages along with their personal belongings -- while dressed up. And they couldn't find seats together with the people they knew.

    So I'm not a fan of open seating. If you choose to do it, you'll have to plan for some 10% extra seats, because not only do people take it upon themselves to "reserve" tables but they put their purses and other personal belongings on seats.
    sparklepants41InLoveInQueenscharlotte989875cowgirl8238
  • Jen4948 said:
    At weddings and other big occasions I've been to where there was open seating, what I've seen are people "reserve" tables and force those who don't have anyone to hold the tables for them walk from table to table asking "Is this seat taken?" In several instances, where there were buffets or food stations they had to do it while carrying heavy trays of food and beverages along with their personal belongings -- while dressed up. And they couldn't find seats together with the people they knew.

    So I'm not a fan of open seating. If you choose to do it, you'll have to plan for some 10% extra seats, because not only do people take it upon themselves to "reserve" tables but they put their purses and other personal belongings on seats.
    ^^ Exactly this. My H & I flew to a wedding in SC a year and a half ago where there was no assigned seating. The groom's family and many of the B & Gs friends who were not in the WP or whose SOs were in the WP (pssstt - don't split up WP & their SOs - it's very rude) rushed the reception space after the cocktail party, threw their stuff down on tables and reserved seats. Which meant that my H & & I, who were helping my 80-something grandparents (VIPs of the wedding) into the reception space, had to scrounge and look for two pairs of seats that were together so that my grandparents could sit with each other at one table, and so H & I could sit together at another table. 

    It's unfortunate that some wedding guests and adults at that behave this way, but they do. I do not recommend open seating unless you have at least 10% extra seats.
    InLoveInQueens
  • Jen4948 said:
    At weddings and other big occasions I've been to where there was open seating, what I've seen are people "reserve" tables and force those who don't have anyone to hold the tables for them walk from table to table asking "Is this seat taken?" In several instances, where there were buffets or food stations, they had to do it while carrying heavy trays of food and beverages along with their personal belongings -- while dressed up. And they couldn't find seats together with the people they knew.

    So I'm not a fan of open seating. If you choose to do it, you'll have to plan for some 10% extra seats, because not only do people take it upon themselves to "reserve" tables but they put their purses and other personal belongings on seats.
    This won't happen at my wedding because they will be sitting at tables during the ceremony. I assume they will use the same places for the buffet. I'll have loads of extra seats.

    P.S. How do you guys add gifs/pics to the bottom of your posts? I really want to do that.

  • edited December 2016
    Seems more your issue is that your FI is unsure. And I'm sorry, I doubt any of us can say anything that could ease his mind! I, too, rather hate open seating and the vast majority of weddings I've been to have had assigned tables. 

    You may just have to assure him that you'll ensure there's more seating than RSVPs, with even more seating (and food) on standby to accommodate anyone who shows up. If his family is concerned about finding seats, perhaps they should arrive earlier than normal to stake out seats. 

    The last time I attended open seating they did "reserve" two tables but neglected to tell anyone who the tables were for. The grandparents and bridal party sat elsewhere and nobody sat at the reserved tables. Fail! 
    I'm catering for about 400 and inviting about 200. The buffet has lots of options so if more than 400 come, rather than give people more than one protein on each plate (e.g. goat, chicken or fish), I'll give people one protein each.  Food for 400 can feed more. I'm using caribbean caterers who know how to deal with this sort of thing.

    It's interesting that most people hate open seating, but I think  it may be more of an etiquette blunder to only have some but not all names on the seating plan. Is that correct?



  • If you truly don't know how many people will show up to your wedding, let alone who those people may be, then I think the seating chart is the least of your problems.  How are you going to feed all those people?  If you get a couple of last-minute "crashers," caterers can typically accommodate with an extra meal or two.  But with swings in the dozens/hundreds that's absurd! 

    But if you are locked into this format I guess the best way to proceed is to just put seating out of your mind since there is no way to do anything about it anyway.  I think open seating is generally a very bad idea, but if you have no other option it's not worth dwelling on.


    Oooh, I had wondered the same thing, until this was addressed in "Plus One Drama" (the Chavtastic thread).  @ScottishSara answered this one, and I filed it under "Things I Learned Today."

    JoanE2012 said:
    Raven said:
    I have a fear of having too small a venue. Mine holds approximately 500. I've invited slightly over 200 and I need the additional space for uninvited guests that are likely to turn up. In african/caribbean culture, it is normal for MANY more people to turn up than is actually invited. Basically guests bring people with them. My Nigerian friend recently got married, he invited 300 and 500 people turned up. To OP: It's always better to have a little extra room because it reduces the stress for you.
    Where do the uninvited sit and what do they eat?  You obviously wouldn't set out enough tables for double the guests or order double the food.  Or do you?

    Afro Caribbean caterers (at least here in the uk) normally work on very approximate numbers for catering, e.g. 200-400, seriously!  Also many venues popular with ethnic weddings have huge function rooms with stacks and stacks of chairs and tables in the back.  I'm not Caribbean but I've worked at a few wedding venues.   


    charlotte989875cowgirl8238
  • edited December 2016
    scribe95 said:
    I really don't see how we can help you if you don't even know the names of your guests or who will be attending. It makes a seating plan impossible which makes me wonder why you posted at all. 
    I actually posted the questions I wanted answered. It was in bold in the first post. Have you guys seen open seating done well? How would you react if you went to a wedding without a seating plan?

    So I was asking for responses to those questions.  
  • I don't see how you could possibly do a seating chart without know who is coming. 
    InLoveInQueens
  • Max_G said:
    Seems more your issue is that your FI is unsure. And I'm sorry, I doubt any of us can say anything that could ease his mind! I, too, rather hate open seating and the vast majority of weddings I've been to have had assigned tables. 

    You may just have to assure him that you'll ensure there's more seating than RSVPs, with even more seating (and food) on standby to accommodate anyone who shows up. If his family is concerned about finding seats, perhaps they should arrive earlier than normal to stake out seats. 

    The last time I attended open seating they did "reserve" two tables but neglected to tell anyone who the tables were for. The grandparents and bridal party sat elsewhere and nobody sat at the reserved tables. Fail! 
    I'm catering for about 400 and inviting about 200. The buffet has lots of options so if more than 400 come, rather than give people more than one protein on each plate (e.g. goat, chicken or fish), I'll give people one protein each.  Food for 400 can feed more. I'm using caribbean caterers who know how to deal with this sort of thing.

    It's interesting that most people hate open seating, but I think  it may be more of an etiquette blunder to only have some but not all names on the seating plan. Is that correct?

    **SITB**

    That would be correct. It would be rude to have assigned seating for half of your guests but not others. I don't imagine it would work either, because your aunt who you assigned to a spot brings someone with her, who she is now trying to fit at her table.

    I can see that this is a cultural difference that most of us here on this board are not used to (planning for expected unexpected guests). The etiquette rule is a seat for every butt (and enough food/drink appropriate for the time of day)- there is no rule that you have to have place cards or a seating plan, but most here would recommend. However, your situation IS different from the majority of posters on here.

    As long as you have extra food and seating, I think that is all you can do.

    I have attended one wedding with open seating. It was OK- but it's not something I recommend. It was also a Western wedding, smaller guest list, and no extra chairs. DH and I attended as university friends of the B&G, along with a bunch of other friends. Tables were set for 8. The group of us who knew each other came to 10. We were put in that awkward situation of 2 people having to go sit at a random table with people we did not know. What we ended up doing was removing 2 chairs/place settings from another table and snuggling in at our now 10 person table. It worked out, and nobody cared, but we still had to do the other awkward, "Is anyone sitting here?" so we could take the chairs and place settings.
    charlotte989875eileenrobcowgirl8238
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
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    @Max_Gsaid, " I thought reserving a table for the WP would be enough and allowing all the families/friends to sit themselves. We are having the wedding/reception in the same room at our banqueting suite. The guests will be watching our ceremony 'dinner-theatre' style. The room is really big and there is a enough space for a dance-floor, dj and cocktail hour in the back section of the room.


    Is having a ceremony "dinner-theater" style also typical?  Who are you factoring in as "wedding party" people?

    I would at the very least have reserved seating for immediate family as well as the wedding party.  If your ceremony "style" is atypical, I can see some issues arising.  Guests will arrive and seat themselves in a way to view the ceremony, and perhaps not factor in the dinner portion of the wedding.  What happens when the ceremony ends and now guests want to play musical chairs "regrouping" with those they want to be seated with for dinner?


  • edited December 2016
    MobKaz said:
    @Max_Gsaid, " I thought reserving a table for the WP would be enough and allowing all the families/friends to sit themselves. We are having the wedding/reception in the same room at our banqueting suite. The guests will be watching our ceremony 'dinner-theatre' style. The room is really big and there is a enough space for a dance-floor, dj and cocktail hour in the back section of the room.


    Is having a ceremony "dinner-theater" style also typical?  Who are you factoring in as "wedding party" people?

    I would at the very least have reserved seating for immediate family as well as the wedding party.  If your ceremony "style" is atypical, I can see some issues arising.  Guests will arrive and seat themselves in a way to view the ceremony, and perhaps not factor in the dinner portion of the wedding.  What happens when the ceremony ends and now guests want to play musical chairs "regrouping" with those they want to be seated with for dinner?


    Dinner theatre style is definitely not normal! A religious service in the church would be normal. My mum had the idea because I found it hard to get a ceremony venue that fit in all the guests and my reception venue has a civil ceremony licence. This seemed like the best idea.  I've never been to a wedding like this ever, but it worked budget-wise and maximises the guests comfort.


    The guests will sit around laid tables. So all the plates, glasses etc will be set out, but no food or drink will be set out.  I guess if the ceremony end and guests wants to play musical chairs.......they just will.  I assumed they would do this either when they arrive or after the ceremony. The cocktail hour immediately follows the ceremony and it will last an hour. Drinks and canapes will be available, so if they want to move, I didn't think it would matter. Would it?  

    My wedding party is my mother and father, groom's mother and father, bridesmaids and their SOs, groomsmen and their SO's and flower girl (who is the daughter of one of the bridesmaids). FI and I will sit on a sweetheart table which will be on the stage.

    I'm not setting up the chairs in a 'conference-room' type fashion and then flipping the room. It will take too long and there is no separate area for the guests to go.  Everything happens in one room. We will be getting married on a stage at the front of the room. I imagine it will look like the picture below.

    I'm starting to sense that Knot users would not like my wedding format if they had to attend! :(

    This plan gives me no gap between ceremony and reception. I imagine it will look like the pictures below:

    Image result for guests seated at tables during ceremony


    Image result for dinner theatre wedding ceremony
  • Max_G said:
    Jen4948 said:
    At weddings and other big occasions I've been to where there was open seating, what I've seen are people "reserve" tables and force those who don't have anyone to hold the tables for them walk from table to table asking "Is this seat taken?" In several instances, where there were buffets or food stations, they had to do it while carrying heavy trays of food and beverages along with their personal belongings -- while dressed up. And they couldn't find seats together with the people they knew.

    So I'm not a fan of open seating. If you choose to do it, you'll have to plan for some 10% extra seats, because not only do people take it upon themselves to "reserve" tables but they put their purses and other personal belongings on seats.
    This won't happen at my wedding because they will be sitting at tables during the ceremony. I assume they will use the same places for the buffet. I'll have loads of extra seats.

    P.S. How do you guys add gifs/pics to the bottom of your posts? I really want to do that.

    There's two different types. One is a signature (siggy/sig) which appears at the bottom of every post (like my surprised kitty down at the end of this one). You can set that up under your account profile. Click on "Signature Settings" and you'll need the image url to input, which is easily grabbed by right-clicking the image you want and choosing 'copy URL' which you can then paste in the appropriate box. Remember to save the settings to start seeing your sig!

    Or you can just attach images to an individual post by copy/pasting them in. If that doesn't work, use the attach image/file button on the reply window. But I typically just 'copy image' and paste it and usually it works. It used to be really buggy and still is on occasion.
    image
    short+sassy
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
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    Max_G said:
    MobKaz said:
    @Max_Gsaid, " I thought reserving a table for the WP would be enough and allowing all the families/friends to sit themselves. We are having the wedding/reception in the same room at our banqueting suite. The guests will be watching our ceremony 'dinner-theatre' style. The room is really big and there is a enough space for a dance-floor, dj and cocktail hour in the back section of the room.


    Is having a ceremony "dinner-theater" style also typical?  Who are you factoring in as "wedding party" people?

    I would at the very least have reserved seating for immediate family as well as the wedding party.  If your ceremony "style" is atypical, I can see some issues arising.  Guests will arrive and seat themselves in a way to view the ceremony, and perhaps not factor in the dinner portion of the wedding.  What happens when the ceremony ends and now guests want to play musical chairs "regrouping" with those they want to be seated with for dinner?


    Dinner theatre style is definitely not normal! A religious service in the church would be normal. My mum had the idea because I found it hard to get a ceremony venue that fit in all the guests and my reception venue has a civil ceremony licence. This seemed like the best idea.  I've never been to a wedding like this ever, but it worked budget-wise and maximises the guests comfort.


    The guests will sit around laid tables. So all the plates, glasses etc will be set out, but no food or drink will be set out.  I guess if the ceremony end and guests wants to play musical chairs.......they just will.  I assumed they would do this either when they arrive or after the ceremony. The cocktail hour immediately follows the ceremony and it will last an hour. Drinks and canapes will be available, so if they want to move, I didn't think it would matter. Would it?  

    My wedding party is my mother and father, groom's mother and father, bridesmaids and their SOs, groomsmen and their SO's and flower girl (who is the daughter of one of the bridesmaids)..

    I'm not setting up the chairs in a 'conference-room' type fashion and then flipping the room. It will take too long and there is no separate area for the guests to go.  Everything happens in one room. We will be getting married on a stage at the front of the room. I imagine it will look like the picture below.

    I'm starting to sense that Knot users would not like my wedding format if they had to attend! :(

    This plan gives me no gap between ceremony and reception. I imagine it will look like the pictures below:

    Image result for guests seated at tables during ceremony


    Image result for dinner theatre wedding ceremony
    It's not that Knot posters would not attend your wedding because of your format.  Quite the contrary, women from these boards have often suggested this very format to resolve issues a bride encounters.  You have a unique situation in that it is HIGHLY irregular to EXPECT an unknown additional number of guests, many of whom you do not even know by name.

    Not having a seating chart absolutely poses issues and awkward situations.  You said, "The guests will sit around laid tables. So all the plates, glasses etc will be set out, but no food or drink will be set out.  I guess if the ceremony end and guests wants to play musical chairs.......they just will.  I assumed they would do this either when they arrive or after the ceremony. The cocktail hour immediately follows the ceremony and it will last an hour. Drinks and canapes will be available, so if they want to move, I didn't think it would matter. Would it? 

    I attended a wedding with this casual format once.  My husband and I left the table to visit the buffet line.  When we returned to our seats, they had been taken by other guests.  We now had our hands full with plates and drinks, and nowhere to sit. 

    Since your format is not typical, as a guest I might be upset to find out that friends arrived early and took seats toward the front of the room.  I now have to sit separately and in the back of the room.  At the table of friends, one odd couple was seated at this table for the ceremony.  Come dinner time, I would not be surprised if this "odd couple" be asked to find a new table to accommodate the "back of the room" couple.

    I also have to say that if the tables are already set, I would feel slightly "grossed out" to sit at one place setting for the ceremony and a different one for dinner.  Things will be touched, perhaps moved about a bit, and otherwise "used".  That does not sound appetizing or appealing to me.
  • Max_G said:
    MobKaz said:
    @Max_Gsaid, " I thought reserving a table for the WP would be enough and allowing all the families/friends to sit themselves. We are having the wedding/reception in the same room at our banqueting suite. The guests will be watching our ceremony 'dinner-theatre' style. The room is really big and there is a enough space for a dance-floor, dj and cocktail hour in the back section of the room.


    Is having a ceremony "dinner-theater" style also typical?  Who are you factoring in as "wedding party" people?

    I would at the very least have reserved seating for immediate family as well as the wedding party.  If your ceremony "style" is atypical, I can see some issues arising.  Guests will arrive and seat themselves in a way to view the ceremony, and perhaps not factor in the dinner portion of the wedding.  What happens when the ceremony ends and now guests want to play musical chairs "regrouping" with those they want to be seated with for dinner?


    Dinner theatre style is definitely not normal! A religious service in the church would be normal. My mum had the idea because I found it hard to get a ceremony venue that fit in all the guests and my reception venue has a civil ceremony licence. This seemed like the best idea.  I've never been to a wedding like this ever, but it worked budget-wise and maximises the guests comfort.


    The guests will sit around laid tables. So all the plates, glasses etc will be set out, but no food or drink will be set out.  I guess if the ceremony end and guests wants to play musical chairs.......they just will.  I assumed they would do this either when they arrive or after the ceremony. The cocktail hour immediately follows the ceremony and it will last an hour. Drinks and canapes will be available, so if they want to move, I didn't think it would matter. Would it?  

    My wedding party is my mother and father, groom's mother and father, bridesmaids and their SOs, groomsmen and their SO's and flower girl (who is the daughter of one of the bridesmaids). FI and I will sit on a sweetheart table which will be on the stage.

    I'm not setting up the chairs in a 'conference-room' type fashion and then flipping the room. It will take too long and there is no separate area for the guests to go.  Everything happens in one room. We will be getting married on a stage at the front of the room. I imagine it will look like the picture below.

    I'm starting to sense that Knot users would not like my wedding format if they had to attend! :(

    This plan gives me no gap between ceremony and reception. I imagine it will look like the pictures below:

    Image result for guests seated at tables during ceremony


    Image result for dinner theatre wedding ceremony
    I've been to a few weddings where people are seated at their dinner tables for the ceremony, nonproblem at all. I like it because no travel in between!

    I think it would be smart to have reserved tables for your WP and you and your FI. They'll won't be able to claim a seat before hand, so I would have a reserved table and make sure their dates/SOs know to sit there. Other than that given you don't know all the names of who are coming o think you just set up fat more tables than you need to ensure everyone has a seat. Seems like you have plenty of space so you should have no problem. 
  • edited December 2016

    It's not that Knot posters would not attend your wedding because of your format.  Quite the contrary, women from these boards have often suggested this very format to resolve issues a bride encounters.  You have a unique situation in that it is HIGHLY irregular to EXPECT an unknown additional number of guests, many of whom you do not even know by name.

    Not having a seating chart absolutely poses issues and awkward situations.  You said, "The guests will sit around laid tables. So all the plates, glasses etc will be set out, but no food or drink will be set out.  I guess if the ceremony end and guests wants to play musical chairs.......they just will.  I assumed they would do this either when they arrive or after the ceremony. The cocktail hour immediately follows the ceremony and it will last an hour. Drinks and canapes will be available, so if they want to move, I didn't think it would matter. Would it? 

    I attended a wedding with this casual format once.  My husband and I left the table to visit the buffet line.  When we returned to our seats, they had been taken by other guests.  We now had our hands full with plates and drinks, and nowhere to sit. 

    Since your format is not typical, as a guest I might be upset to find out that friends arrived early and took seats toward the front of the room.  I now have to sit separately and in the back of the room.  At the table of friends, one odd couple was seated at this table for the ceremony.  Come dinner time, I would not be surprised if this "odd couple" be asked to find a new table to accommodate the "back of the room" couple.

    I also have to say that if the tables are already set, I would feel slightly "grossed out" to sit at one place setting for the ceremony and a different one for dinner.  Things will be touched, perhaps moved about a bit, and otherwise "used".  That does not sound appetizing or appealing to me.
     

    My response:

    Guests will be called up to the buffet by their table numbers, so I don't think your buffet example would happen.  I think seating would be effectively decided either while people are arriving for the ceremony or during the cocktail hour. I don't think there will be much movement at the 'eating stage.'  My mum had the idea of sitting less people to one table so if people want to move chairs/cutlery - they can do so easily. For example, each table sits 10 people max, but I might sit 6 or 8 people to a table.

    About your 'grossed out' comment - I never thought of that because I don't think  it would be bother me since no-one has eaten with the plate or used anything on the table.  

    Everyone's viewpoints are interesting because I know the african/caribbean guests would be used to this. But I now fear that the non-black guests will be super freaked out!

  • I've been to a few weddings where people are seated at their dinner tables for the ceremony, nonproblem at all. I like it because no travel in between!

    I think it would be smart to have reserved tables for your WP and you and your FI. They'll won't be able to claim a seat before hand, so I would have a reserved table and make sure their dates/SOs know to sit there. Other than that given you don't know all the names of who are coming o think you just set up fat more tables than you need to ensure everyone has a seat. Seems like you have plenty of space so you should have no problem. 
    FI and I will be on a sweetheart table on a stage. I hope people wouldn't dream of sitting there! 
  • Open seating was the norm for weddings in the area where I grew up, so I've been to a number of them. The difference was that the seating was long rows of rectangular tables rather than round ones. The benefit of this is that people will fill in most of the seating just leaving a cushion of a chair to two between groups of people. Also, since the rows were long, it allowed for large groups to be seated together. The immediate family tables were designated with signage.
    LadyCatherineDB
  • edited December 2016
    Slight addition: I will do a couple reserved tables for non-drinkers.  Some members of my father's family are part of a conservative Christian denomination who never drink alcohol. These people have RSVP'd so I know exactly who is coming.  We will put a mixture of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks on each table during the main meal, except on the non-drinkers table.

    By marking out tables for the non-drinkers I can calculate where to put the non-alcoholic drinks and make sure no-one else sits there.  Otherwise I will waste money putting wine on a table of non-drinkers. 


  • edited December 2016
    MobKaz said:
    Max_G said:
    Slight addition: I will do a couple reserved tables for non-drinkers.  Some members of my father's family are part of a conservative Christian denomination who never drink alcohol. These people have RSVP'd so I know exactly who is coming.  We will put a mixture of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks on each table during the main meal, except on the non-drinkers table.

    By marking out tables for the non-drinkers I can calculate where to put the non-alcoholic drinks and make sure no-one else sits there.  Otherwise I will waste money putting wine on a table of non-drinkers. 


    I think you have to be careful about the way you go about this.  You certainly cannot designate this table "non-alcoholic".  Now you are being forced to make a small seating chart, or lay place cards, at some tables.  This could be construed as improper on several fronts. 


    My response:

    I wasn't going to put a sign saying 'non-alcoholic' on it. I thought a sign with the name of the church on it would help.  Otherwise I'd buy quite a few bottles of wine I don't need.  Unless you have a better idea..........

    I'm not opening the bar until after dinner, to save on costs. So all drinks for the meal are put on the table.  Drinks will also be provided during the cocktail.  

    We are only talking about marking out 2 tables as reserved in a room with over 40 tables!
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
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    Max_G said:
    Jen4948 said:
    At weddings and other big occasions I've been to where there was open seating, what I've seen are people "reserve" tables and force those who don't have anyone to hold the tables for them walk from table to table asking "Is this seat taken?" In several instances, where there were buffets or food stations, they had to do it while carrying heavy trays of food and beverages along with their personal belongings -- while dressed up. And they couldn't find seats together with the people they knew.

    So I'm not a fan of open seating. If you choose to do it, you'll have to plan for some 10% extra seats, because not only do people take it upon themselves to "reserve" tables but they put their purses and other personal belongings on seats.
    This won't happen at my wedding because they will be sitting at tables during the ceremony. I assume they will use the same places for the buffet. I'll have loads of extra seats.

    P.S. How do you guys add gifs/pics to the bottom of your posts? I really want to do that.

    You know what they say about "assuming"... 

    I still think that your best course of action is to come up with the names of the people you are actually inviting and assign tables (not seats) instead of "assuming" what your guests will do or not do.
  • I think you will be fine. The concept of opening seating won't be new to your guests. And I'm sure your guests will be hosted properly. There will be more food than needed even if an extra 100 people show up. I would suggest maybe having a couple ushers help people find seats, especially as the venue fills up. 
    MesmrEweshort+sassy
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