Is Assigned Seating a Must?
Every couple who knows a thing or two about wedding planning dreads the day they’ll have to sit and down and complete the reception seating chart. Who can blame them? In today’s world of divorce, blended families, committed singletons, and lifelong cohabitants, figuring out who sits where is no longer as easy as alternating ladies and gentlemen and separating spouses to ensure everyone has a chance to meet someone new. And that brings us to a wedding planning question from one of our followers:
My fiancé and I are having the worst time with our seating chart thanks to family drama and a big divide between the size of our respective families. Do we even have to have assigned seating? Is the work we’re putting into this a waste?
Now there are a few schools of thought where assigned reception seating is concerned. On one hand, yes, mature adults should be able to seat themselves without too much fuss. On the other hand, popularity contests don’t become a thing of the past when you leave high school. To add another voice to the mix, there’s the simple fact that it’s likely that most of your wedding guests will be expecting assigned seating – not a rush to grab the most desirable tables.
So before you throw assigned seating out the window entirely, think carefully about whether leaving seating up to chance has the potential to cause hurt feelings or chaos.
One reception seating option that’s popular among brides-to-be who’d rather spend more time thinking about pearls versus rhinestones than whether Uncle John will start a fight with Cousin Jane (again) is assigned tables without assigned places. There are plenty of benefits to simplifying the seating chart in this way.
Letting guests choose their own seats at assigned tables makes the reception feel more orderly but puts the responsibility for good behavior in guests’ own hands. Couples have a chance to make sure family feuds don’t manifest as fights by keeping relatives on the outs far apart. They’re not, however, on the hook for making sure every guest finds his or her new best friend.
Whether or not to give wedding guests the freedom to pick their own seats is a good idea in practice also depends on what you know about said guests. Is there known bad blood in your family or the potential for ugliness thanks to one or two relatives who don’t know when to say when? In some circles, you could ditch assigned seating all together with no consequences. In others, the mere potential for nasty surprises makes assigning actual seats a must.
When it comes down to it, only you know how your friends and family will respond to open seating, with or without limitations. Be honest with yourself when you consider the likely results of creating a traditional seating chart or not, and let your heart be your guide.