Etiquette

Who isn't doing a seating plan?

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Re: Who isn't doing a seating plan?

  • Hmm, this poster sounds reeeeeally familiar...

    I'll be the odd one out. I have only ever been to weddings (including mine!) without any table or seat assignments, and I've never seen any issues. Most of the weddings I've been to have been more casual afternoon or lunch affairs. I'd probably expect a seating plan if it was a more formal wedding. 

    At all the weddings, I've never had a problem finding a seat, and I've never noticed anyone having difficulty trying to find a seat or enough empty seats together to accommodate a family or group. 

    These have all been somewhat large weddings. Not 400 people large, but upwards of 100 or more large. 

    DrillSergeantCatshort+sassy
  • edited December 2016
    Thanks Scottish Sarah: My FI is half Nigerian and half Scottish, and he spent about 16 years in Africa. His mother is accustomed to the African way of life, but his other Scottish relatives might not be! I want to do a traditional ceildi and the Scots may find our chaotic ways a bit disorientating. I'm black mixed race, but adopted so I don't have any white family members that I am in contact with. Thanks for the help. We hired a wedding day of co-ordinator with a reasonably sized staff so any 'fires' should be put out quite effectively. I don't watch 4 weddings, (only say yes to the dress!) but that type of reaction does scare me. Honestly, if they were Nigerian they would just have found another seat without fuss! I know Brits like lots of order/structure to their events. SOOOO SCARED now! The escort pen idea is very clever. I might do that actually!
  • edited December 2016
    To people who think I am fake, I did read the deleted knottie posts (kind of hard to miss) and I decided to post since our weddings are similar because of our ethnicity/culture. Thousands of white americans (I guess most people on here are white americans) post about (sorry to put it this way), but weddings that all sound alike with the exact same problems like "should I have a gap" or "I want a cash bar" without people accusing them. There are millions of black people in the UK and we do get married. If you don't want to help, well the previous posters have been helpful.
    Sherbie25cupcait927SP29ScottishSarah
  • Max_G said:
    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!
    I really wouldn't worry about this.  Me and FI wrestled with this dilemma as we didn't want tables to look 'sparse' if they had less wine than others, even though we knew that some tables wouldn't drink the wine.  In the end we put out the the same, and yes there was a lot left over.  The venue placed all the half drunk bottles in the kitchen for us with our leftover cake.  I thought I would be annoyed about the waste but I was SO happy the next day I didn't give a shit.  I wouldn't worry unless you think the church group will be offended by having the wine at the table in the first place iyswim?
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
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    Keisha84 said:
    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. 
    Based on an earlier post, it sounds as if this may actually not be what the family of FI is prepared or accustomed to expecting.

    OP said......"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. 

  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
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    edited December 2016
    Every West African/Afro-Carribean wedding in Britain I have been to had open seating. I agree just make sure you have at least 10% extra laid tables. The venue looks fab! 

    Even every Asian weddings I have been to had open seating. If you come from a culture where a 300 person wedding is intimate, seating plans may not be for you! As long as everyone can sit comfortably and there isn't a scrum for seats go ahead. 

    I like the previous suggestion of having a person direct guests to open tables and to bring in extra chairs when necessary. 

    I would be be shocked to find a table plan at a Nigerian wedding! 

    @ScottishSarah I totally remember that episode- It was such a cool wedding and they were such miserable cows. The food was 'too spicy' (I have a feeling basmati rice would be too spicy for them) and they were complaining about everything even though the family was so welcoming. Then each one of the cheeky gits had soggy beef roast dinner at theirs! 
    PrettyGirlLostOliveOilsMomSP29ScottishSarah
  • DrillSergeantCatDrillSergeantCat Oklahoma City, OK
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    I've also never been to a wedding with a seating chart. My own wedding didn't have one. We reserved a table for H and I and the rest was open seating. We didn't have a problem. I can't see how you could do assigned seating if you don't know who all your guests are. I also wouldn't worry about buying a few extra bottles of wine for tables that won't drink it. You can always drink it later yourselves.
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
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    I'm not profiling, OP. It's just super coincidental that you post a few days after the other knottie, and we've had that situation more than once before. 


    image
    charlotte989875kimmiinthemitten
  • levioosa said:
    I'm not profiling, OP. It's just super coincidental that you post a few days after the other knottie, and we've had that situation more than once before. 
    I thought the same thing but the other Knottie## was combative. Max_G seems to actually be looking for advice not validation.
    charlotte989875justsieInLoveInQueensshort+sassy
  • I was going to suggest what other PPs already have. Just make sure you have a certain percentage of extra settings, chairs and tables. I've been to Indian and West Indian weddings like this. It's not as chaotic as it sounds. I'm pretty go with the flow when it comes to other cultural norms, so it didn't bother me much and the food was plentiful and delicious. 
    PrettyGirlLostSP29
  • levioosa said:
    I'm not profiling, OP. It's just super coincidental that you post a few days after the other knottie, and we've had that situation more than once before. 
    Ditto. And sure, we get lots of people posting the same things about a gap or cash bar, but they usually don't provide as many details as you have that are very similar to a very recent previous poster. If you had just posted, "Hey, I'm having a large wedding with hundreds of guests, and I'm thinking about not having a seating plan. Has anyone else done this and how did it work out?" No one would have thought anything of it. We've gotten questions about not having seating plans before. It's the level of other details.

    Very similar number of guests (in my experience, that large of weddings are somewhat rare on these boards), Caribbean/Afro/UK wedding (again, somewhat rare on these boards), you on board with an aspect that your Fi is unsure about, people watching the ceremony from their tables (which posters had suggested in the other thread), people bringing lots of other guests to the wedding, originally looking at a ceremony site that couldn't fit all guests. 

    Honestly, it sounded like the same poster who either took our advice from the previous thread or just adjusted a few details in the post to make her wedding sound ettiquette approved. 

    cowgirl8238
  • If it's only 2 tables how is this a significant cost issue?
    DrillSergeantCat
  • If you don't know the names of all potential guests, could you possibly do something where like different groups of tables are for different "groups" of guests? Like perhaps, tables with blue flowers are for your aunts/uncles & anyone else they may bring. Tables with white flowers are for your FI's extended family + whoever else, etc. That may not flow with your decor at all and still kiiiiind of involves making somewhat of a seating chart but you don't have to know every single person who will be attending. You'd still want to have extra seating in each "section," but that way guests will be able to sit near people they know.
    OliveOilsMom
  • I am another odd one out - I have never been to a wedding with assigned seating, including my own. I'm not sure any of these weddings were as large as yours, but some in the realm of 200+ guests. It's never been an issue, especially for a buffet. From my experience, the only time I'd expect (or want) assigned seating is if it were a plated meal. I'd just rather choose who I sit with anyway.
  • I agree that this all sounds very similar to the last poster...however,

    I would set up each table a little under the max capacity with the same amount of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. If people don't drink all of the wine you will either have extra or someone from a different table can take it to theirs and drink both bottles worth.  I would also add about 10% more tables/chairs then your list (I'm assuming 8 chairs at a 10 person table) so maybe 4-5 tables.  This allows people to move chairs a bit and have a few empty seats thrown about.  You can spread via word of mouth that the ceremony and reception will be at the same spot, but I think the "blank" place settings should get that across.

    If you are concerned with people getting up and losing their seats I do like what a PP suggested about guests being able to make their own place cards...I know in many of the weddings I have attended a napkin on the chair back is used to symbolize a chair is reserved for someone, of course everyone has to know the "universal" symbol for it to be effective, and this still isn't fool proof, so I am not sure what you would do in your case.  Could you consider table numbers (without assignments) and then calling tables up one or two at time?

    I do not feel it is fair to save some tables for some guests and let everyone else fend for themselves, but I could probably let it slide if you wanted to save a table or two for family, as long as is they know about it in advance. (i.e. table 1 is for your BMs and parents, and table 2 is for your GM and FI parents)  I still am not crazy about it, but I could see the need to reserve the spaces if these people are not going to be out and about before the ceremony when everyone else is finding a seat.

  • I think it would be fine to reserve tables for the WP and IMMEDIATE family, but I wouldn't go beyond that. I agree, it doesn't look great when you start reserving tables here and there.

    As for the alcohol- put it out as planned. Guests will share the bottles as needed; I have often attended weddings where someone asks if they can trade the red for the white. Or, any staff available can walk by the tables after dinner has started and remove any bottles that are not being drank and re-distribute those. You also never know when someone who does not drink wants to sit with others who do. I say leave the free choice.

    The fill in your own place card is not a bad option. Guests wouldn't HAVE to use them, but if they felt more comfortable doing so, they could.

    P.S. I did not think you were the same person as the deleted Knottie. That person was extremely aggressive and making a fuss just to fuss. OP, you have been nothing but pleasant and respectful and I am sure your wedding will be lovely- you are asking questions to make your guests more comfortable.
    ScottishSarahsparklepants41kimmiinthemittenshort+sassy
  • geebee908 said:
    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.
    I agree with this. I, also, have seen open seating that went well and open seating that did not go well. When it went well, there were long rows of rectangular tables, and there were more seats than necessary. When it went poorly, there were small round tables without many extra seats, and groups (and some couples) were split up.
    "Marriage is so disruptive to one's social circle." - Mr. Woodhouse
  • I'd just set out the wine on all tables. The tables of people who don't drink can give it to other tables. At my cousin's wedding we didn't drink any of the red wine at the table (I was pregnant [so zero wine], mom is allergic to red, husband and dad don't drink wine), so another cousin just asked if she could have it. I think we asked her to switch a bottle or half of white for my mom. 

    I've only been to three weddings with seating charts. All were OT. They're not common in my area. I'm shy, so I didn't really like sitting with someone I hardly knew, but it wasn't terrible. Another time it was my whole immediate family. The last time it was bridal party and SOs. The last one was also "dinner theatre" style. It was the only time I had ever been to a wedding like that. I didn't really pay attention to what people thought of it during the ceremony, because I was a BM and not seated there for the ceremony. 

    All that that being said, when I went to BIL's wedding, open seating was awkward (only time it ever was for me). WP was separated from SO (but this is very common in my area).  My mom and sister were invited, so I didn't sit with my ILs at the reserved family table.  I actually didn't know I was "supposed to" until later. Then, because our table had three people at it, no one we knew could sit with us, because it was a six person table. Everyone we knew and asked to sit with us were people who were in groups of four+, so we wouldn't fit at a table. We would ask when we saw two people we knew. They did, however, have lots of extra seats. I don't think it was intentional, because SIL said lots of people RSVPed and didn't show.  
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI
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    Meh, Deleted Knottie #'s was aghast at the idea of "dinner theater" seating, and was Caribbean, not Nigerian.  The only similarities are weddings in the UK and not knowing the numbers of guests - which is coincidental but not suspicious.

    @Max_G, I think the best way to go about this, is to spread via word of mouth what to expect, especially to your FI's family and the Church group.  My family does open seating often, but as a PP mentioned, with long tables, and as long as there is extra space for plenty of people to sit, you should be fine.

    If FI family and the church group know they are seating themselves and there are 10 seats to a table (for example), they'll be able to arrive when they can and save themselves space.  The non drinkers can just pass on the wine, and if their table runs out of the dry offerings, the staff can replenish them and redistribute the wine as needed.


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  • Question about food at this type of wedding.  If your caterer plans for enough food for hundreds of extra people, what is done with that food if less show up?  Is there a tremendous amount of waste?
  • I'm a little late to the party here, but we did open seating and it went fine. I'm sure there were some people who were a little confused, but most people knew what was going on.

    Having done it, I would only recommend it if you can meet two requirements:

    1) Does your crowd "get it"? Don't do it if every single wedding in your circle is assigned seating/tables.
    2) Can you afford to have around 15% extra seating? People will leave a chair between them and the next couple, so you will not be successful if you have the exact number of seats as guests. This means more physical space and more money (linens, place settings, centerpieces, tables, chairs, etc.). 

    If you can't answer yes (CONFIDENTLY) to both of those, go with assigned tables. We were able to answer yes to both of those, so open seating was a non-issue...but I don't think that's the norm.
    *********************************************************************************

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  • edited December 2016

    kaos16 said:

    Question about food at this type of wedding.  If your caterer plans for enough food for hundreds of extra people, what is done with that food if less show up?  Is there a tremendous amount of waste?

    It could potentially lead to waste, but you just take that chance I guess. I've seen this type of format done a lot and they is normally not much (if any) food is left. People often go for seconds and I can predict (based on past events) how many people will turn up.
  • Max_G said:

    kaos16 said:

    Question about food at this type of wedding.  If your caterer plans for enough food for hundreds of extra people, what is done with that food if less show up?  Is there a tremendous amount of waste?

    It could potentially lead to waste, but you just take that chance I guess. I've seen this type of format done a lot and they is normally not much (if any) food is left. People often go for seconds and I can predict (based on past events) how many people will turn up.
    We often did orders for the guests on the day and designed the menus so that food not cooked was kept refrigerated and if not needed it could be used for tomorrow's event.  With a choice menu or a buffet you always have extra of everything anyway.   You just take some more seabass or what ever out and cook as you need.  Large batch sauces can also work in this way.   If you are a busy caterer with a relatively limited menu waste is not an issue like you may think.
  • edited December 2016
    Max_G said:

    kaos16 said:

    Question about food at this type of wedding.  If your caterer plans for enough food for hundreds of extra people, what is done with that food if less show up?  Is there a tremendous amount of waste?

    It could potentially lead to waste, but you just take that chance I guess. I've seen this type of format done a lot and they is normally not much (if any) food is left. People often go for seconds and I can predict (based on past events) how many people will turn up.
    We often did orders for the guests on the day and designed the menus so that food not cooked was kept refrigerated and if not needed it could be used for tomorrow's event.  With a choice menu or a buffet you always have extra of everything anyway.   You just take some more seabass or what ever out and cook as you need.  Large batch sauces can also work in this way.   If you are a busy caterer with a relatively limited menu waste is not an issue like you may think.
    Honestly, I don't know anything about catering and your comment explains why despite the unknown number of guests I rarely see food waste at african/caribbean parties. What you said makes sense. The caterer I'm using does have a limited selection in the sense that they cook the same types of dishes for african weddings.
  • Max_G said:

    kaos16 said:

    Question about food at this type of wedding.  If your caterer plans for enough food for hundreds of extra people, what is done with that food if less show up?  Is there a tremendous amount of waste?

    It could potentially lead to waste, but you just take that chance I guess. I've seen this type of format done a lot and they is normally not much (if any) food is left. People often go for seconds and I can predict (based on past events) how many people will turn up.
    We often did orders for the guests on the day and designed the menus so that food not cooked was kept refrigerated and if not needed it could be used for tomorrow's event.  With a choice menu or a buffet you always have extra of everything anyway.   You just take some more seabass or what ever out and cook as you need.  Large batch sauces can also work in this way.   If you are a busy caterer with a relatively limited menu waste is not an issue like you may think.

    Thank you for that explanation.  In my head I was just seeing trays and trays of food being tossed.
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