Amanda
Just Said Yes August 2021

Tips for no seating chart

Amanda, on July 20, 2021 at 4:24 PM Posted in Wedding Reception 3 22
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My fiancé and I decided on no assigned table seating for our reception. I figured we’re all adults here and can sit ourselves. I’ve never been a fan assigned seating it weddings I’ve been to because 1. You often get stuck with complete strangers and could have had way more fun than if you sat down with the people you wanted to 2. I’ve noticed that assigned seating causes people to feel like they chained to that seat and they don’t mingle very much.


With that being said I’d love to hear any recommendations/ tips from people who did unassigned seating at the reception! Our biggest hurdle is making sure our family has seats when they come to dinner as they will be taking family photos with us when everybody is grabbing their seats during happy hour.
Thank you!

22 Comments

Latest activity by Sarah, on July 26, 2021 at 10:02 PM
  • N
    Dedicated March 2022
    N ·
    • Flag
    What about reserving tables for family to sit together? Just a have 1- how many you need tables with a "reserved" sign.
    One negative to no seat assignments is you may find guest will leave weird gaps in tables of 1-3 seats that may be hard to fill
    • Reply
  • Cool
    Super July 2020
    Cool ·
    • Flag
    I agree with table assignments. If you just leave it as a free for all it becomes really awkward especially at a formal event. If it’s a picnic with large long tables, sure. If it’s a formal venue with round 6-10 person tables this is not ideal. Take time in your seating chart to make sure people are with others that they know - it’s your responsibility. It’s too bad you weren’t properly hosted in the past but I don’t think this is a good solution.
    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    I would never do this for the reception because I have attended many events with no assigned seating that was a complete nightmare every time. First of all, couples and families always get split up. It is an adult version of the high school cafeteria ptsd where seating was first come first serve. Grandma saves an entire table for people who don’t even sit with her and she won’t give up seats for anything. So you will need twice as many tables and chairs. Plus this will not work if you have a plated meal where waiters need to know who gets which meal.
    • Reply
  • Colleen
    Savvy June 2021
    Colleen ·
    • Flag

    How many people are you having? I honestly wouldn't really recommend this unless everyone at the wedding knows each other super super well and will be happy sitting wherever. Friend groups, family, couples all end up getting split up when it's a free for all. I think your idea that adults can seat themselves is totally valid, but it can be sort of stressful when low and behold there is no where for your family to all sit together. This could be even more stressful for a very large guest list, or for guests who don't know that many people there. I do think if you spend time on the seating chart you should be able to make it so people are sitting by those they know or have things in common with. I've never been to a wedding with unassigned seating, but at every wedding I've been to with assigned seating people have gotten up and moved around.

    But, if you're set on it I would simply reserve tables for family. You could just set reserved signs on them and make sure they know where to go.

    • Reply
  • M
    VIP January 2019
    Maggie ·
    • Flag

    I agree with everyone else on all of the reasons to assign tables with the bottom line being that your guests will appreciate it. And as for your two main reasons not to do so:

    "1. You often get stuck with complete strangers and could have had way more fun than if you sat down with the people you wanted to" -- You get to choose how to group people so you can seat friends and family with friends and family.

    "2. I’ve noticed that assigned seating causes people to feel like they chained to that seat and they don’t mingle very much." -- Whether guests mingle or not has very little to do with assigned seats. It's human nature for all but the most outgoing to mostly talk to who they already know at parties. The people who want to mingle will do so even with an assigned table, and the ones who don't like to mingle won't do so no matter where they are sitting.

    • Reply
  • Jacks
    Master September 2019
    Jacks Online ·
    • Flag

    Honestly not assigning tables is going to end up a nightmare. You will have 1/2 filled tables with people wandering around trying to organize. You can't expect your guests to take that on.

    • Reply
  • M
    Devoted September 2021
    Marianne ·
    • Flag
    Not gonna lie, my cousin’s wedding didn’t have assigned seating and it was a hot mess. There were even reserved tables for the family members who were taking pictures after the ceremony while everyone else sat themselves and the signs were ignored and my cousin’s parents had to awkwardly tell people to move. At the very least, assign people to tables!
    • Reply
  • I
    Expert August 2021
    Ingrid ·
    • Flag

    As others have mentioned this could be a nightmare for your guests, but also your event staff. Also I've read that when you don't have a seating chart you need to have more seating than people for those situations where there are odd number of spots at the table, rather than filling a table.

    I would check with your venue on their preference for ease of the event staff. Are you having plated dinner? If so how is the event staff supposed to know what each person's meal choice is. Probably not as much of an issue with buffet style dinner.

    I know this isn't what you were expecting when asking your question but people on here speak from past experience, not to say your past experience isn't valid.

    • Reply
  • B
    Super July 2017
    Becky Online ·
    • Flag

    We went to a wedding without assigned seating. People were pulling chairs from other tables, so some tables ended up basically empty and others were over full. Plus, for people with social anxiety, you've just made them relive their memories of the school cafeteria - where do I sit, with whom do I sit, is it okay if I sit here, what if they're just being nice, etc.

    • Reply
  • Melissa
    Dedicated October 2021
    Melissa ·
    • Flag
    I'm glad u asked this...the comments are very helpful
    • Reply
  • Vicky
    VIP January 2020
    Vicky ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    110% this!

    • Reply
  • mrswinteriscoming
    Rockstar December 2021
    mrswinteriscoming ·
    • Flag

    Unassigned seating can be really intimidating to guests and create quite a bit of chaos - it puts people in a panic into trying to find the people they know and then finding a table with enough spare seats to seat everyone that wants to sit together.

    Assigned seating is the perfect way of not only making things more seamless for your guests, but also ensuring that the people who don't know anyone else are paired with likeminded people. Just because you assign seating doesn't mean people aren't able to later get up and change seats or come back.

    I would highly encourage you to re-consider this for the convenience of your guests. You don't necessarily need to assign specific seats, but at least table allocations will be quite handy.

    • Reply
  • Vale
    Dedicated October 2021
    Vale ·
    • Flag
    Because we're having plated dinners, my rationale is to have assigned seating ONLY until after dinner and the cake is served. After that, people are free to sit wherever and with whoever. I'm making sure all the ceremonial stuff (First Dance, F-D/M-S Dance, dinner, speeches, cake) are all done within the first hour and a half. The rest of the reception will be all freedom to dance the night away! No awkward "Stop dancing, it's time to do this thing" to break the flow.
    • Reply
  • SHY
    Master January 2022
    SHY ·
    • Flag

    How many guests will you be having? And what kind of dinner will you be having? If you have a lot of guests and/or a plated dinner, then I highly suggest doing assigned tables at the least. Assigned seats aren't necessary, but I'm all for assigned tables.

    I get what you're saying about guests being adults and being able to seat themselves, but from my last experience at a wedding with no assigned tables/seats, we're def. having them. The wedding had over 100 guests and not nearly enough seats for everyone. FH and I and our entire friend group (plus other guests) didn't get to sit down the entire night...literally. From the moment we arrived, seating was taken up for the ceremony so we had to stand, and we arrived 15min early as always. Also didn't get to sit down for dinner so we had to eat standing up. The girls were livid because of course we wore heels but didn't expect to be standing for 5+ hours.

    I know our comments aren't what you were hoping for or expecting, but we just want to give you some insight from our past experiences and want to help!

    • Reply
  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    Assigning tables is recommended for all of the reasons people have mentioned. If the hosts actually put thought into where people are assigned it alleviates the problem of being forced to sit with strangers you have nothing in common with.

    I would assign tables and be very thoughtful about where you seat your guests. We had a number of guests at our wedding who did not know anyone else but because we made sure to sit people with compatible personalities or common interests together it was not an issue at all.

    • Reply
  • Micaela
    Just Said Yes August 2021
    Micaela ·
    • Flag
    What we're doing is just assigned tables instead of a assigned seat. That way they can sit next to whoever they want, but we can still make sure family is sitting closer to us.
    • Reply
  • Katie
    Dedicated October 2021
    Katie ·
    • Flag

    Agree with everyone else. You don't need to assign specific seats to people but not having assigned tables for a sit down dinner sounds like my nightmare. I'd rather my husband and I be sat with strangers than wander around like children in a cafeteria looking for seats together.

    Instead you should take your experiences and what you did not like about assigned seating and be intentional about your seating.

    • Reply
  • Katie
    Expert August 2021
    Katie ·
    • Flag
    I also am against assigned seating. I just find it to be horrible all the way around especially if it isn't a family members wedding. We are going to be reserving tables one for the head table and 2 for family.
    • Reply
  • T
    Just Said Yes April 2022
    Tammy ·
    • Flag

    Hi Amanda,

    Congratulations! My niece just got married at a lovely outdoor barn venue in Hendersonville, NC. They did not have any seating assignments. Even though our group was "part of the family" we ended up sitting several tables away from the immediate family because it became a bit of a free-for-all as guests entering the reception area grabbed tables and held seats. My step-mother and I agreed that it would have made things much easier if we had been assigned a table. My wedding (#2) is in April 2022 and I will absolutely be assigning seats (or at least tables.) I don't want anyone to feel out of place or left out at my reception. People usually get up and move around after the meal anyway.

    Best, Tammy

    • Reply
  • K
    Dedicated September 2022
    KPAR ·
    • Flag
    Put reserved signs on the family tables and name cards at place settings for your parents and anyone else that you feel should have a saved seat
    • Reply

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