Wedding Reception Forum

Assigned tables

So, I've always heard one of the harder parts of the wedding planning is the seating charts.  However, I've always been planning to do assigned tables.  I had read once (and I thought this made sense) to put the older members of the guests closer to the guest floor, so that way even if they don't want to dance, they are close to where the action is and everything is more intimate and together, and no one is seated off in a corner feeling left out.  
We will be having a buffet, as a note.

My venue is very against me doing any sort of seating plan.  They said it will really throw off the timing as when they are ushered from the cocktail hour area to the pavilion where the bulk of the reception will be held and for the bridal party intros, then there's this long line with people figuring out where they go, it throws of the timing, etc.  They also feel that people will put stuff down on the tables beforehand and it will make the place look as nice.  They said that people would already be near people they want to be around, so things just usually work out when finding seating.  

I guess I'm just having a hard time understanding this.  Why would they only have to find out where they are sitting when told to move to the pavilion.  Could there not be cards or an easel with information next to where they enter or near the cocktail hour?
Would people not just put down stuff at a spot regardless whether they have table assignments or not if they have access to the pavilion?  
Would it not just be chaotic?

We will have a large guest group - about 150.  So, I feel that just a free-for-all for finding a seat and with people you want to be near could be chaotic and not-fun. And I feel like there would be a greater chance of guests who would rather be together of getting split up.  Plus, slower walking guests like grandparents would be stuck with just whatever.  

However, my reception venue is professional and has done many weddings. This is my first. 

What have your experiences been with assigning tables or not?  Any advice?  If my place recommends against it, should I follow that advice?

Thanks!

Re: Assigned tables

  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    It's weird that your venue is against it.  I wonder if they're just trying to avoid the extra work.  Assigning seating is much easier for guests and is more organized.

    At every wedding I've been to with assigned seating and cocktail hour in a separate area, the seating chart or lists are put out in the cocktail area, so people walk over to see where they're sitting while they mill around.  
    svc2014
  • loca4pookloca4pook member
    1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited September 2013

    I would assign seats for sure especially with that many people. Ignore the receptions advice. It might be self-serving as it is harder for them,

    HOWEVER, are they willing to put out the escort cards for you? If not, you will have to get that down on your own somtime which could be difficult.

    People feel better with assigned seats usually. If they have to scramble to find somewhere to sit, it becomes stressful and they also may never want to leave their seats out of fear someone will take it which could lead to less dancing and socializing

     

    Btw, you and your DJ are usually the one dictating timing for the most part. In my case, he was the one to tell us when we were starting the introductions and keeping us on track for the evening. The most it could take to get escorts for tha many people is still only a few minutes, not hours. They are being a little overdramatic about it all. ACTUALLY, I think it would take LONGER for people to find their seats if there is no assigned seats than if they are getting their escort table. Without table assignments, guests are giong table to table saying "do you have 4 seats left" and that would delay the timeline MORE, I think

     

    I also question whethere your venue is just avoiding more work.

  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Cranly said:
    So, I've always heard one of the harder parts of the wedding planning is the seating charts.  However, I've always been planning to do assigned tables.  I had read once (and I thought this made sense) to put the older members of the guests closer to the guest floor, so that way even if they don't want to dance, they are close to where the action is and everything is more intimate and together, and no one is seated off in a corner feeling left out.  
    We will be having a buffet, as a note.

    My venue is very against me doing any sort of seating plan.  They said it will really throw off the timing as when they are ushered from the cocktail hour area to the pavilion where the bulk of the reception will be held and for the bridal party intros, then there's this long line with people figuring out where they go, it throws of the timing, etc.  They also feel that people will put stuff down on the tables beforehand and it will make the place look as nice.  They said that people would already be near people they want to be around, so things just usually work out when finding seating.  

    I guess I'm just having a hard time understanding this.  Why would they only have to find out where they are sitting when told to move to the pavilion.  Could there not be cards or an easel with information next to where they enter or near the cocktail hour?
    Would people not just put down stuff at a spot regardless whether they have table assignments or not if they have access to the pavilion?  
    Would it not just be chaotic?

    We will have a large guest group - about 150.  So, I feel that just a free-for-all for finding a seat and with people you want to be near could be chaotic and not-fun. And I feel like there would be a greater chance of guests who would rather be together of getting split up.  Plus, slower walking guests like grandparents would be stuck with just whatever.  

    However, my reception venue is professional and has done many weddings. This is my first. 

    What have your experiences been with assigning tables or not?  Any advice?  If my place recommends against it, should I follow that advice?

    Thanks!
    Assign tables.  It is much kinder to your guests and I can't see it taking any longer than a free for all.  People grab their escort card and know exactly which table to head to.....instead of roaming around trying to find their friends or family or trying to find a table with the right number of seats available.
  • Assign tables. I think it's ridiculous tht they are so against it. I much prefer weddings with assigned settings. Yes, I'm usually around the people I want to sit by, but what happens when the 9 of us go to a table of 8? Or the four of us can only find tables with two or three spaces open? It doesn't work.
  • That is very odd- I find most venues push assigned seating (mine has).

    I would do assigned seating- at least assigning a group to a table. I think more people who "waste" time looking for a table that had the right number of seats for them and their friends. 

    Good advice to know if the venue will put out escort cards for you, or not. 

    An easel with chart might be another good and easy option for you. 
  • Great.  I'm totally willing to do an easel.  
    And we will have access to the venue as of the day before, so if we did some sort of card, i could set it out the day before anyway.  But, I am thinking an easel or board might be easiest for all involved.  

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited September 2013
    That's weird.  Most venues require assigning tables, and I think you should do it so your guests don't have to deal with a school-cafeteria-like situation where they have to walk around looking for available seats with people they know and like, especially with a buffet where people are carrying heavy trays of food and drinks. 

    And any venue that tells me "things usually work out" without good planning-and not assigning tables is not good planning-is one I'd side-eye-regardless of how many weddings they've done. 
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Cranly, I've never, ever been to a wedding that did not have assigned seating or assigned tables. Go with your original plan.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    cap816 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    That's weird.  Most venues require assigning tables, and I think you should do it so your guests don't have to deal with a school-cafeteria-like situation where they have to walk around looking for available seats with people they know and like, especially with a buffet where people are carrying heavy trays of food and drinks. 

    And any venue that tells me "things usually work out" without good planning-and not assigning tables is not good planning-is one I'd side-eye-regardless of how many weddings they've done. 
    The bolded is NOT universally true.

    OP, I strongly dislike assigned tables/seats, and they're not common in my circles (I've only to been to one wedding that had them, and it was a hot crazy mess).  That said, if it's the norm in your groups of family and friends, and fits with the vision of your wedding, I would push for it with your venue.
    Whether or not the bolded is universally true, that you don't personally like assigned tables or that it's not common in your circle isn't a good reason not to do it.  Doing it shows that the hosts have taken some time to think about their guests' needs-especially ones with children, mobility issues, language issues, or other issues that suggest that it's not a good idea to just expect them to figure it all out for themselves.

    Expecting guests to put things down at tables, go to a buffet, and then come back to the tables can put their belongings at risk of theft or damage.

    It's also not a good idea to leave tables unassigned when there is bad blood between guests or guests who don't know other guests there.  And yes, that happens.  People cannot always be counted upon to behave like grownups with maturity and grace toward others.
    [Deleted User]
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    cap816 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    That's weird.  Most venues require assigning tables, and I think you should do it so your guests don't have to deal with a school-cafeteria-like situation where they have to walk around looking for available seats with people they know and like, especially with a buffet where people are carrying heavy trays of food and drinks. 

    And any venue that tells me "things usually work out" without good planning-and not assigning tables is not good planning-is one I'd side-eye-regardless of how many weddings they've done. 
    The bolded is NOT universally true.

    OP, I strongly dislike assigned tables/seats, and they're not common in my circles (I've only to been to one wedding that had them, and it was a hot crazy mess).  That said, if it's the norm in your groups of family and friends, and fits with the vision of your wedding, I would push for it with your venue.
    How was assigned tables a hot crazy mess?  Seems like that has a better chance of happening with free for all seating.  A good host will place people at tables that are a good match.  I've never seen any problems with it. 
    [Deleted User]
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited September 2013
    cap816 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    cap816 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    That's weird.  Most venues require assigning tables, and I think you should do it so your guests don't have to deal with a school-cafeteria-like situation where they have to walk around looking for available seats with people they know and like, especially with a buffet where people are carrying heavy trays of food and drinks. 

    And any venue that tells me "things usually work out" without good planning-and not assigning tables is not good planning-is one I'd side-eye-regardless of how many weddings they've done. 
    The bolded is NOT universally true.

    OP, I strongly dislike assigned tables/seats, and they're not common in my circles (I've only to been to one wedding that had them, and it was a hot crazy mess).  That said, if it's the norm in your groups of family and friends, and fits with the vision of your wedding, I would push for it with your venue.
    Whether or not the bolded is universally true, that you don't personally like assigned tables or that it's not common in your circle isn't a good reason not to do it.  Doing it shows that the hosts have taken some time to think about their guests' needs-especially ones with children, mobility issues, language issues, or other issues that suggest that it's not a good idea to just expect them to figure it all out for themselves.

    Expecting guests to put things down at tables, go to a buffet, and then come back to the tables can put their belongings at risk of theft or damage.

    It's also not a good idea to leave tables unassigned when there is bad blood between guests or guests who don't know other guests there.  And yes, that happens.  People cannot always be counted upon to behave like grownups with maturity and grace toward others.
    Jen, you are more than welcome to your opinion, but it is just that, an opinion.  And one that I personally will never agree with.
    Does posting this have a purpose other than a snotty putdown? 
    [Deleted User]RedJacks25
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    cap816 said:
    JoanE2012 said:
    cap816 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    That's weird.  Most venues require assigning tables, and I think you should do it so your guests don't have to deal with a school-cafeteria-like situation where they have to walk around looking for available seats with people they know and like, especially with a buffet where people are carrying heavy trays of food and drinks. 

    And any venue that tells me "things usually work out" without good planning-and not assigning tables is not good planning-is one I'd side-eye-regardless of how many weddings they've done. 
    The bolded is NOT universally true.

    OP, I strongly dislike assigned tables/seats, and they're not common in my circles (I've only to been to one wedding that had them, and it was a hot crazy mess).  That said, if it's the norm in your groups of family and friends, and fits with the vision of your wedding, I would push for it with your venue.
    How was assigned tables a hot crazy mess?  Seems like that has a better chance of happening with free for all seating.  A good host will place people at tables that are a good match.  I've never seen any problems with it. 
    You've most likely never seen problems with it because it's done frequently or occasionally in your circles.  At this wedding, clearly most weren't used to it, so some people sat at their assigned tables but many did not.  Chairs were moved around all over the place, causing tables to not have seats available for individuals assigned to sit there, and areas of the room that were impossible to even get through because of clusters of chairs.
    And why wouldn't this happen at a wedding without assigned tables, where everyone moves chairs around into clusters-especially if people are forced to grab seats wherever they can find them?
    [Deleted User]
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    cap816 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    cap816 said:
    JoanE2012 said:
    cap816 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    That's weird.  Most venues require assigning tables, and I think you should do it so your guests don't have to deal with a school-cafeteria-like situation where they have to walk around looking for available seats with people they know and like, especially with a buffet where people are carrying heavy trays of food and drinks. 

    And any venue that tells me "things usually work out" without good planning-and not assigning tables is not good planning-is one I'd side-eye-regardless of how many weddings they've done. 
    The bolded is NOT universally true.

    OP, I strongly dislike assigned tables/seats, and they're not common in my circles (I've only to been to one wedding that had them, and it was a hot crazy mess).  That said, if it's the norm in your groups of family and friends, and fits with the vision of your wedding, I would push for it with your venue.
    How was assigned tables a hot crazy mess?  Seems like that has a better chance of happening with free for all seating.  A good host will place people at tables that are a good match.  I've never seen any problems with it. 
    You've most likely never seen problems with it because it's done frequently or occasionally in your circles.  At this wedding, clearly most weren't used to it, so some people sat at their assigned tables but many did not.  Chairs were moved around all over the place, causing tables to not have seats available for individuals assigned to sit there, and areas of the room that were impossible to even get through because of clusters of chairs.
    And why wouldn't this happen at a wedding without assigned tables, where everyone moves chairs around into clusters-especially if people are forced to grab seats wherever they can find them?
    I'm sure it could.  But I have never once seen it happen.
    Others may have.
  • Assign tables for your guests. Tell your venue to shove their opinion.

     

    NYCMercedessvc2014
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    @cap816 - in the instance you stated about seeing assigned tables once in an area that is not used to that, I just think it is crazy how rude the guests were.  I realize that assigned tables are not the norm in your area but it just blows my mind that even though they aren't used to it that they were all rude enough to ignore it and just move things around.

    OP, as for whether or not to assign tables really comes down to what is the norm in your area like cap816 said.  If the norm is to assign tables then do it, if it isn't then just forgo and make sure to have about 10% in extra seating and tables.

    But either direction you choose, guests need to not be rude and act like crazy people when trying to grab a seat.  I mean they are not chained to their seat all night.  All they need to do is sit long enough to eat and then they can move around.  Any adult that can't just accept their designated table for an hour needs to grow up.

  • I have only been to one wedding that didnt have assigned seats (or at least assigned tables). It was a buffet dinner and when i came back to my table with my plate someone had taken my seat. Not a fun experience to stand around with a full plate of food trying to find a new place to sit.
    svc2014
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    jlazgrl said:
    I have only been to one wedding that didnt have assigned seats (or at least assigned tables). It was a buffet dinner and when i came back to my table with my plate someone had taken my seat. Not a fun experience to stand around with a full plate of food trying to find a new place to sit.
    That fucker!  God, why are people so fucking rude!

    [Deleted User]svc2014
  • @jlazgrl  that's terrible!

    And thanks everyone for the advice and help!
  • do assigned tables tell the venue thats what i want and we have to do it this way i dont want a free for all ex my aunts wanting to sit with so and so but 4 other people are at that table i want to be able to choose where my guest sit 
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