(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.