Seating Chart vs No Seating Chart {Wedding Wednesday}

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As somebody that has worked in the wedding business for a few years now, I find this topic is one of the “Great Debates” of wedding planning. There are positives and negatives to each side of having a seating chart, or not having one. I am here to mention a few reasons for each, and then I would love to know how you feel about it!

Being the planner that I am, I felt like there is no other way to have seating at a wedding besides with a seating plan. But there are a few ways to get around that and keep everyone happy. Most people have a few people they would like to sit with, and it’s nice for guests to have the option. Open seating also provides a very casual atmosphere, and is less stressful for the bride and groom beforehand.  A few pieces of advice if you plan to have open seating:

  • Reserve seats only for the Bridal Party. This is nice for after photographs when everyone else has already found a seat
  • Make sure there is at least one extra table from the number you expect to have, and some extra chairs
  • Be sure to order an extra centerpiece, if it isn’t needed there will be another location to put it throughout the wedding
  • Count for a little extra time for guests to find seating, especially if you are going directly from ceremony to reception, or guests are not allowed into the reception during the cocktail hour

If you are still undecided here are  few positives to the other side of the spectrum about having a seating chart:

  • Family members will be sitting together
  • No guest will feel the need to “save seats”
  • It is much easier for a plated meal if you have more than one option
  • There won’t be any moving of place settings and chairs (hopefully)
  • If someone arrives later, they will already have a seat accounted for

The best piece of advice I can give if you plan to have a seating chart if you aren’t doing it electronically is to use post-its and a large piece of poster board. This makes changes super easy! Also, number your response cards and keep note of who has which number, this way if somebody replies without putting a name (it has happened!) you know who is was from.

How did you, or do you plan to seat guest at your wedding? Do you have any other advice?

Wedding Wednesday

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9 thoughts on “Seating Chart vs No Seating Chart {Wedding Wednesday}

  1. Unless the event/wedding has a specific plated meal for each guest that was pre-selected and/or is extremely formal, I prefer open seating most of the time. Guests will often sit where they want to sit and with whomever they’d like, regardless of what I’ve planned or where I’ve put their name card. It adds more stress to planning and execution that I’d rather to channel toward other components of the event, but I love seeing creative execution of it done by other planners!

    • There are plenty positives to open seating, and it’s true people will still move. But if they move and I don’t notice then all is good in my world, at least I tried 😉 I just look at it as a small part of the reception, and after everyone is done eating its time to dance!

  2. Good call on setting up some special seating for the bridal party. My brain has not even gotten to the seating chart thing, so I am very undecided. I just don’t want anyone to feel like they have no one to sit with though!

  3. We had a sit down dinner at our wedding, but we did not have a seating chart. My husband and I both come from very loud, southern families. We knew that all of our guests would get along and have great conversation no matter where they sat. Plus, we knew that our guests would just end up moving around and sitting where they wanted to sit anyway. It worked out perfect for our situation, and the added bonus of not stressing over making a seating chart was the cherry on top!

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