So now you’ve actually completed the guest list. Everyone has sort of agreed on who’s included, and the invitations have been ordered and mailed. RSVP’s are coming in. You’re actually to the point of being able to relax? Right?
Ha! No way. Not if you’ve had a bunch of well, shall we say, discussions (rather than disagreements, controversies, or heaven forbid, arguments!) over the guest list. Because now you have to figure out who’s going to sit where. Some people just aren’t made to get along with some other people. And the last thing you want at your wedding is for your guests, or you, to be uncomfortable!
If you’re one of those lucky couples where everyone on your list gets along with everyone else, makes friends easily, and can talk to just about anyone, well, you’re really lucky, and you can just read this and be thankful that none of these scenarios are going to happen at your wedding!
Unfortunately, there’s almost always someone, or several someone’s, that don’t need to be around certain other someone’s. If you get what we’re saying! Family or friends. It almost always happens.
Unless you’re dealing with very uncomfortable stepfamily issues in one or both families, seating at the ceremony shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s only for about half an hour. Surely everyone can basically get along for that time. And if you’re having to decide how to seat parents/step-parents so there won’t be any problems, all we can say is turn that one over to your wedding planner and let her handle it, because that’s a controversy better given to someone else to handle who’s a neutral party! And for your sakes, let’s hope everyone can at least pretend to like each other during the service! (Fortunately no one is supposed to be talking during the service, so you’re probably fairly safe. Just be careful during the photos!)
The reception is always another matter. And if you know you have people that are coming to your wedding who just don’t get along, you’re going to need to be really careful where you seat them.
Now, a lot of brides and grooms prefer open seating, so people can sit with who THEY want to be with, not who you THINK they should be with. And unless you’re anticipating problems, maybe open seating will work. However, if you’re having just enough seating for all those invited, you’re also taking a risk that some of your guests will end up with people they don’t know at all and have trouble talking to for whatever reason, or you end up with an odd number of open chairs and some couples or families have to separate to be seated.
Or what if your families are all trying to sit together (hint: reserve a table or two for family!) and your Aunt Karen can’t find anywhere else to sit but at the same table your cousin Lynn is seated at…and these two absolutely cannot stand each other! And Aunt Karen is definitely the type who will stand up and make a scene with “I’m NOT sitting with HER!”
These are definitely things you do NOT want to have happen! And things that not even the wedding planner can always anticipate…only pick up the pieces afterwards!
You’re sort of doing assigned seating if you have a head table with your wedding party joining you. And as we said previously, you do need to reserve a table or two for family members. After all, don’t they deserve to sit near the wedding party? Since most of the time some of us are paying for it? So maybe you really need to re-think your idea of whether or not you’re doing assigned seating.
After all, between the two of you, you know everyone who’s coming, and you pretty well know who they get along with and who they don’t. So it may not be quite as difficult as you think to come up with a seating plan that should basically make everyone comfortable. (And yes, people have been known to switch tables with others…and it usually works!) It’s certainly a lot better than having your guests sitting with people who make them uncomfortable, or with people who basically know each other except them, and then people can tend to feel really left out at a time that should be nothing but happy!
Unless you’re having your cocktail hour in another room that isn’t near the main reception room, you can also find people saving their seats by leaving purses and jackets at the dinner tables while sampling the appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. And usually either no one else knows who’s set their things where, or even worse, someone decides they just want to move your belongings around to make room for themselves and their party, and then you can have more problems! We’ve actually seen people do this, and when confronted (nicely) by the person whose belongings they’re relocating, just shrugged and said, “oh, I didn’t know this meant someone planned to sit here! Were you really saving these seats, because we really want to sit here so we can see better!”
Really? Yes, rudeness is not limited to small children who don’t know any better. And speaking of children, there are also people who really do NOT want to have to sit at a table with children, and could very well make that request very well known if the only seats left are at tables with children!
So what do you do? Well, first of all, don’t try to solve your problem like one couple did who thought it would be cute for everyone to draw table numbers out of a jar when they walked into the reception. Can we say recipe for disaster as well as angry guests?
And if you’re serving a plated meal rather than a buffet, and gave your guests choices of entrees, or there are vegetarians or guests with food allergies that you’re trying to accommodate, it gets even more problematic. Not only for the waiters who are trying to serve, but for the guests who may get the wrong meal.
It’s also important to remember that assigned SEATS are different from assigned TABLES. Unless you’re having a five course meal with several entrée choices being served, assigned tables will suffice perfectly well. Guests can place their escort card with their entrée choice at their seat and the waiters should do fine serving the proper selection. And seating arrangements are really not THAT difficult to make, at least not in theory. (that’s what post-it notes and poster boards are for!) Because you can move the names around really easy…then you realize that there are an awful lot of possibilities out there for seating people, and well, if YOU’RE having questions about who should sit with who, just imagine how your guests might feel when they can’t find a place to sit with anyone they know and end up feeling left out and leaving early because they’re not having a good time!
Now chances are, unless you’ve been living in a bubble, you’ve surely seen all those really cute escort card displays on Pinterest, and we know you’re secretly just dying to try one of them out…. Many of the seating chart ideas incorporate perfectly as part of your reception décor, and can be as creative as you are! We’ve actually found so many different styles and ideas, it’s really difficult to say which are our favorites:
You can also be extremely creative with table names, even if you’re NOT doing assigned tables! After all, there has to be some good way to call the tables up to the buffet lines. (Everyone herding at the same time is NOT a good idea!) You can name the tables to correspond with your theme, or one of our favorites, using pictures of the bride and groom at their ages according to the table number! (Personally, there’s a wedding in the future I really want to do that for!) Imagine the names you can come up with!
But no matter what you decide, this is one area where you have to think of your guests almost as much as yourselves. You want everyone to have a good time, and come away from the wedding with nothing but happy memories!
So what’s YOUR plan going to be now?
Photo Sources: 1st Row: via etsy; shefinds.com; vponsale.com – 2nd Row: iwedplanner.com- 3rd Row: mywedding.com; silberstudiostv.com – 4th Row: interest.com – 5th Row: weddingelation.com – 6th Row: weddingideasmag.com – 7th Row: pleatedjeans.com –8th Row: Bella Rose Photography via lover.ly – 9th Row: intertwinedevents.com – 10th Row:thinksmartdesigns.blogspot; onewed.com; Mr. Boddingtons Studio on Every Last Detail via lover.ly; Meg Smith on SnippetandInk via lover.ly; Bill Blakey Photography; bridescafe.com; apicturelife via bridalguide.com; lilyandval.com – 11th Row: film noir photography; bohoweddings.com; blog.myweddingreceptionideas; zazzle.co.uk; source unknown; apaperproposal.com