Wedding Seating: Free Range Families or “The Singles Table”?

After the wedding is over and your guests have made their way to the reception, what is the first thing your guests will do?

They will go check out the seating situation.

For years, brides-to-be have spent countless hours agonizing over the strategy of seating all of their guests in a way that will keep everyone happy, keep the drama to a minimum, and maybe finally find a good man for their cousin to accidentally meet. It is tricky, but if you do it well, it can make a wedding more enjoyable for everyone. It can also cut down on accidental pairings of family members that just don’t get along.

However, after decades of place cards and strategy, more and more couples have opted to nix the seating chart altogether in favor of a more informal, relaxed atmosphere. If you have ever spent any time at the pre-designated singles table, you are probably more sympathetic to the sans-chart life choice. People tend to migrate toward like-minded individuals and you might get more bang for your buck regarding dance floor time, anyway.

Should you have assigned seats or go free-range? Here are a few things to consider:

1. Audience.

Are your guests more old-fashioned or progressive? Mostly young folks or an older set? You have got to play to your guests’ comfort zones. A lot of the time a younger progressive set will want to mill around and will feel confined by specific seating arrangements. It is exactly the opposite when it comes to your parents’ generation and older, as they might feel a bit adrift without a specific place to call home in your venue. Aim to please the largest amount of people here.

2. Space

How much space does your reception provide for your guests? If space is limited, try to nix the formal seating for bar tables in the middle of the room and chairs or benches on the outskirts. Lots of space? Then feel free to go formal with it (name tags and everything). Try to visualize all the different ways you can utilize the space, what kind of vibe you are going for, and what would make your guests (and you!) most comfortable.

3. Time

Do you have time to organize all 150 guests into strategic placements? Then go for it! But if it is crunch time, your wedding is a month away, and you have just burst into tears over cream vs. white lace on your garter, it is probably time to let some details go. Feel free to include seating on the list of things to forget. Instead, you can print off some name tags, arrange them on a board at the entrance, and have people seat themselves. That way, if people need to mark their territory, they can without all the awkwardness.

One thing you must remember on your wedding day is to find a seat for your spouse and yourself. Everyone is going to want to wish you well on your big day. If you don’t carve out some time and space for yourself to rest, hydrate, and eat some of that delicious cake, you will be even more exhausted.

If you follow these tips, you are on your way to planning your most drama-free, bliss-filled reception!

Jeremy Bowen

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