Are you considering an open seating wedding? If case you aren’t familiar, this is a wedding where there are no table or seating assignments; guests are free to sit wherever their hearts desire! Not dealing with a seating chart sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Hold on. Open seating can be a wonderful thing, but it can also NOT work in a lot of situations. Before nixing assigning tables to your guests, read this!
It could save you a lot of headache.
Pretty much every soon-to-be-married couple says that determining the seating plan is THE WORST part of wedding planning. It often involves tears, stress, and/or copious amounts of wine just to make it through. That’s because there are a lot of feelings to contend with and small details to consider. Does this cousin get along with that cousin? Have these two friends gotten over their feud? Will so-and-so be hurt if you put her in the corner of the room? Can I put grandma by the DJ? (Answer: No). Ain’t nobody got time for that. You can save yourself a few nightmarish hours if you go forgo assigning tables all together.
Buffet, family style, or having the same meal for everyone works best.
Allowing each guest to choose a chicken, beef, or pasta dish won’t really work with an open seating plan. Think about it. Usually, the week of the wedding, a caterer will ask you to provide a breakdown of how many of each meal is going to each table. But if guests are going to sit wherever they want, you can’t really provide this. That’s why serving the same meal for all your guests (like a duo plate) or opting for a buffet or family style service is the way to go with open seating.
It could save you money.
No seating plan means no escort cards means a little bit shaved off of your wedding paper budget. You also don’t need table numbers, so that’s more dough in your pocket. Although not always, buffets can sometimes be less expensive than served meals. It may not seem like much but it can add up quickly, and your bank account will eventually thank you.
It could be a bit awkward.
“Is this seat taken?” Be prepared to hear it a lot. Some guests may end up sitting with people they don’t know, and large families may need to split up too. For example, a party of seven may need to break off into four and three if they can’t find seven open seats at the same table. Or they’ll need to ask other guests to swap seats with them. While open seating is less work on the couple, it sometimes means a game of musical chairs for guests.
Casual settings are ideal.
Open seating doesn’t really work with a black tie affair. That’s because it’s a very laid back way of doing things. And that’s great! But make sure it matches the overall day. What type of wedding works best with open seating? Backyard affairs, smaller weddings, cocktail style receptions, and even some farm weddings when the typical tone is one of comfort and openness.
You’ll still have to assign some seats.
Think about your parents, grandparents, siblings, and even your bridal party. Those VIPs should be closest to the center of the room or wherever the happy couple is seated. It’s easiest for speeches, but it just feels extra special to be nearest to the guests of honor (i.e. YOU!). Plus, remember that your bridal party will enter the room last during intros…AFTER all of the other guests have taken their seats. You can’t have them wondering around the room looking for an open chair. So even with an open seating plan, you won’t get away from assigning seats entirely. You’ll need to mark some tables as reserved, and you’ll also need to make sure that said VIPs know they are meant to sit there!
You might want to consider plus ones.
Most tables fit an even number of chairs, usually 8 or 10. And most wedding guests come in pairs. So do the math. A few couples plus some single guests equals a lot of empty chairs around the room. Allowing them to bring a plus one will help fill those up, and make sure those guests have someone to talk to at whatever table they end up.
Believe us…determining a seating chart is not easy. We see the appeal in skipping it altogether. But make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into with open seating. If you still think it’s for you, go on with your bad self! Will you be doing open seating? Why or why not? Comment below and let us know or share your thoughts but tagging @burghbrides on social media!