Jenny Oz here your 'wedding encyclopedia' and I want to discuss a topic a TON of clients ask about, "Do I really need a seating chart?" Most of the time the answer is 100% yes but here are some guidelines to follow when making this crucial decision. This question often comes from the "super chill" bride, or at least the bride who aspires to be 'super chill.' These brides often start out with the right intentions, but even the most level headed, bright, successful human, becomes a total bride robot once 'wedding plans' are in sight. Am I right?
These brides are right to try and be 'chill' but when planning an event for hundreds of your closest friends and family, is it their duty (and our duty as your planner) to design and plan the flow of the day or multi day events. We want this to feel seamless, to make guests feel like they are floating on a giant cloud from one event to another.
This does not mean that with the right details and careful planning, that we cannot in fact do an 'open seating' format floor plan. Just like any great event, this too takes some careful planning.
In the summer of 2017 my team and I did a terrific wedding with over 200 guests and an open seating plan that worked out wonderfully.
The key factor is knowing what kind of guests you have and knowing your crowd. This is the number one thing that can be overlooked when making this decision. This particular crowd was going to be a 50% under 40 younger crowd, and over all were a fun, live music loving group of guests. Knowing this going into the event made us comfortable with the open format seating ( or non seating) plan.
The questions to ask yourself about your group are simple. First and foremost how will your family feel about it and do you care? This is a two part question as who is paying for the event also comes into play. If parents are contributing they most likely will have an opinion about this and will want you to respect that. If you are paying for the event and do not feel strongly about how your families feel, I can tell you this: they may be upset for a small period of time but come time for the event they will be so overwhelmed with love, joy and emotion, they won't care who is sitting where. Most of the pre-wedding nerves come from the anxiety of planning and wanting your friends and family to have a great time- which they absolutely will. Come the day of the event, all the details they were fretting about will disappear and they will just bask in the pride of seeing their child marry the one they love. I can also tell you this: chose your battles when taking on your family as they are family and it is not worth creating a war over who will sit where.
Now back to this floor plan. There are some secrets to making an open floor plan work, like always adding extra seats to a few tables. This allows for some wiggly room if you have a couple or group that may not be so open to this lay out and are looking for seats together. Also, make sure to have a service staff member assistant with people finding tables and places to sit. Your planning team should also be mindful of where the band or music is and where a quieter table section may be available for certain guests.
The real question when planning something like this is: are you considering your guests? If you have a planner, talk this over with them when making this 'super chill' decision ( wink.) My last bit of advice, that you will hear me bring up many times is this: Talk things over with your spouse before you consider asking your friends and family for advice. If you want an 'open seat floor plan' and the venue and planner agree, then go for it. But if you open topics like this up for discussion, you may create some unneccassary stress. I often advise to not ask too many people for advice as they most likely are not going to tell you the answer you want to hear. These people have not put the hours of thought and vision into the entire event and at the end of it all, they do just want you to be happy. So make the event a reflection of who you and your spouse are- that is what everyone will celebrate and remember about YOUR special day.