7 Principles of Perfect Reception Seating
Assigning seats at the wedding reception is considerably more daunting than merely writing names on place cards. Insuring a pleasant experience for every guest requires forethought.
Wedding Receptions and Seating Arrangements
Assigned reception seating is always beneficial. It automatically relieves stress for attendees, and when asked, the majority of wedding guests will answer that they prefer assigned seats. Few people enjoy approaching an occupied table to ask if they can join the already-seated guests, and “free” seating can result in unnecessary discomfort for some and alienation for others.
Taking the time to thoughtfully assign seats may add to the bride and groom’s pre-wedding tasks, but in the long run, doing so will increase the enjoyment of the day for everyone.
Etiquette Seating Follows 7 Principles
Following 7 basic principles when assigning seats for the wedding reception will make the process less confusing and result in tables blessed with harmonious conversation and a pleasurable atmosphere.
- The Two Peas in a Pod Principle: Knowing that two or more people absolutely belong together makes those guests easy to assign. Keeping couples, families, co-workers, etc., together is a plus. Those who share commonalities will converse more freely and be more at ease.
- The Dodge Ball Principle: Age is a factor. Seating an elderly person at a table with young children can be stressful for all. Even children on their best behavior can be loud and fidgety. Sheltering elderly guests from those who are young enough to relish a rambunctious game of dodge ball saves frustration for all guests, young and old.
- The Solitary Confinement Principle: Inclusion is a must. Solo guests are especially vulnerable in reception situations. It’s difficult to attend social functions alone, making it even more important that guests without partners be integrated into friendly table assignments. What they don’t want is to be lumped together at some “after thought” table for singles. The best solution is to make sure that every table has a seat or two assigned to single guests. For example, a table of eight could include a family of five, a couple and a single guest, and all would find that to be a welcome arrangement.
- The Potential Drama Principle: Deciding where to place those who used to be a couple can be challenging. Divorced men and women who no longer speak to each other should be seated apart. Some separated couples remain friendly while others do not. But even if they are amicable, it’s wise to remember that a wedding, of all places, can trigger some painful memories for those who have had their marriages or relationships fail. Unless asked specifically by a former couple to be seated together, each needs to be assigned to a different table in a different section of the room. It does no good to assign seats with such close proximity that they can overhear each other’s conversations. Keeping former couples apart can limit unwelcome wedding day drama.
- The Comfort Zone Principle: Guests with special needs require special consideration during the seating process. Common sense should take the lead when addressing those with wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, or other unique issues. Seating the elderly closest to the restrooms makes sense. Keeping those with crutches from having to navigate through chairs and tables by seating them close to aisles is kind to everyone. Placing moms with babies at the fringe of the tables allows them to easily disappear when need be. Simply taking stock of each guest’s personal situation helps create a seating chart that works.
- The United Nations Principle: Everyone understands and accepts that those who are closest to the bride and groom will be seated at tables nearest to the head table. But beyond those few select tables, it’s important to assign seats with an eye towards equality. No one likes to be delegated to the back of the room, but someone has to be. The trick is to make sure that no one feels like a second-class citizen. The bride’s third cousin may actually have less contact with her than the bride’s friend from the gym. One is related. One is a better friend. Who gets to sit closer? The best solution is that both of them get seated together at a table, either near or far, and that every other table is populated in a similar fashion. If handled in this even-handed manner, no one will feel slighted.
- The Uh-Oh Principle: Planning for the unexpected will prevent distress. There’s always someone who decides to come at the last minute who had previously RSVP’d to the contrary. Planning for this by assigning “ghost” seating here and there throughout the tables, and adding a few “ghost” meals to the catering, will solve the problem. Guests who were invited but declined because of a scheduling conflict, only to discover they could come after all, should feel welcome.
Wedding Guests Appreciate Thoughtful Seating
There is much to think about when creating the perfect wedding reception seating chart, but with dedicated consideration, it will prove to be well worth the investment in time.
The wedding reception is a celebration, and celebrations should be joyous. But it is careful planning that often backs the greatest “spontaneous” joy.