Thursday, March 27, 2008

Assigned seating or no assigned seating?

(picture is from The Knot, I love the arrangement of escort cards)

I was inspired to write a post regarding assigned seating after reading a series of comments over at Elizabeth Anne Designs. (BTW, they are doing some truly fabulous inspiration boards). Yes, I did comment already, but I still have more to say. There seems to be a split down the middle as to whether you should have assigned seating at a wedding. I will preface this post by first saying that its your wedding and as most people will tell you, you should do what you want. After all, you and your future hubby know your guests better than anyone and of course know what they would be comfortable with. Furthermore, the reason for etiquette is to make your guests more comfortable, so starting with that premise, I think either would be fine, depending on your wedding.

That being said, my personal opinion is that assigned seating is the way to go. I think there are times when you don't need assigned seating. For example, a reception that is a cocktail reception or a very small reception. In those circumstances, seating is generally not a problem.

If you are having a traditional sit-down dinner and a medium to large reception, I think you should have assigned seating. There are several reasons for this, first, it is helpful to the servers at your reception. Guests usually indicate what they are having and assigned seating makes it easier to identify "who gets what." Second, guests will be seated more quickly thus dinner will be served more quickly and then you can party more quickly :) I consulted Peggy Post in her Wedding Etiquette book to see what she had to say on the subject. While she never says, "you must have assigned seating," she does say "at a traditional sit-down dinner or luncheon, guests are usually assigned places at dining tables and are served by waitstaff."

Now, on to assigned seating at a buffet or food station wedding . . . At our wedding, we will be having stations set up throughout the room, so it will be a buffet-type reception. Although I did not consult my general Emily Post Etiquette book (its at my parents house along with 100 other books - sorry Mom :), I did look this up in Wedding Etiquette. Again, Peggy doesn't say that you must do one or the other, instead she says "guests sit at dining tables, which may or may not have assigned places."

I know that old etiquette dictates that at a buffet-type reception, there shouldn't be assigned seating. However, I disagree with this. I personally feel that assigned seating saves your guests from a lot of akward "is this seat taken" or "may I sit here" or "can we move chairs over so our friends can join us." Isn't that the whole point of etiquette? To save your guests from those akward situations? I personally feel like "looking for a place to sit" is reminiscent of middle school lunch tables, at least for this bride.

I realize that some or many of you will disagree with me, so feel free to chime in! There's no view-point discrimination on this blog :)

P.S. Again, this is just my personal opinion. Whatever you did/will do at your wedding is/was up to you.


Lena said...

Well this post is RIGHT up my alley! I thought and thought and thought some more about seating - we had a buffet dinner, and I so wanted to do a seating chart with place cards. But it came down to time, and I didn't have a lot of it, so we ended up going with open seating. When I arrived at the reception site, everyone seemed to have found a seat, and the conversation was flowing. I just knew people would be fighting over seats - not the case! So, although I thought it was going to be a disaster, it wasn't AT ALL! If I would have had the time, I would have done the seating (and I had cute ideas for it, don't you know?) I hope this helps!

Good luck :)

elizabeth @ elizabeth anne designs said...

assigned is the way to go. i completely agree with your post!

Lauren said...

My situation was similar to Lena's. I had the intention of doing assigned seating, but closer to our wedding time was at a premium and seating wasn't highest on my priority list. I have been to weddings that have had assigned and unassigned seating and have had fun at both! Either way, weddings are such a fun celebration!

Anonymous said...

Your Nana would be proud!

Kiki said...

I agree with you that everyone has their own preference. I did, however, assign seating for exactly the same reason as you stated, I wanted to save my family and friends that uncomfortable bit of looking for a seat.
The best part about the tables was that because I had moved over 25 times in my life I named the tables after the streets where my husband and I lived.
All this wedding talk is so fun, thank you for sharing!!!

Mom on the Run said...

I just went to my cousin's very small wedding with open seating, but assigned seating would've been so much better. There were a handful of relatives from out of town and we would've liked the opportunity to talk to each other. Unfortunately, their friends took up about 5 or 6 spaces at every table so there was no way any of us could sit together and talk. We were stuck with 2 or 3 of us at each table with strangers. We live all over the country and rarely get to see each other. This wasn't a long event, so basically that was our chance to visit.

But that wedding had etiquette issues worse than the seating. That was actually minor...but very annoying.

Pearls and Grace said...

Loved this post and enjoyed reading your blog!
Congrats on your upcoming wedding!
Will visit again soon..


Anonymous said...

Just attend a wedding with assigned seating and it was very sad. No honor was given to the only grandparent and the bride chose to have her family placed at the far end of either side of the event, making us all feel very unimportant. All kids were placed at one table, which again I felt was inappropriate for age and caretaking. The grooms family and friends were given every consideration. It cause some hurt feelings