It’s the holiday season and now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s almost time for Christmas. I’m so thankful for all of my wonderful couples and for those of you who follow us and while I don’t have a gift for you everyday, I do have a weekly gift of wedding planning help to say thanks. So, let’s rip off the wrapping and jump into today’s Q&A where we’re talking about the seating chart: I’ve been toying with the idea of having open seating at my wedding. I’ve been to many weddings where I wasn’t super thrilled at my table and I like the idea of people being able to pick their own seats and sit where ever they want. But are there downsides to open seating that I should take into account?
Good question! Open seating can be a wonderful idea for not only the reasons you mentioned but because then you don’t have to worry about things like a seating chart, seating cards or place cards. It definitely lends itself to a more casual wedding as opposed to a formal one, but that isn’t a rule you have to follow. I wouldn’t say there are “downsides” to a open seating plan, but there are few factors to consider before choosing it as it might not work for your wedding.
First off, when you have a open seating plan, you need to provide extra tables and chairs in order to make sure that everyone can find a seat and sit with who they want to. Your guests won’t make perfect 10 person tables, so if you have 100 people, you want more than 100 seats. With this in mind, you’ll need to make sure that your venue has the room for extra tables and chairs. In addition, if you are renting your items, keep in mind that will add to your total cost as besides extra tables and chairs you’ll also need more linen, flatware, glassware, and china.
Another thing to think about is the seating for your immediate family, wedding party and those you are particularly close to. If you don’t have assigned seats, where they sit will also be unplanned which means they may not be close to you. That may or may not be an issue for you, but it is something to think about. Now you can have a few reserved tables, but that does make it a bit tricky so I’d suggest you either go all assigned or all not assigned.
If you are someone who likes things to look perfect, having an open seating plan might not be your cup of tea. Since you won’t know where people will sit or how they will sit, from a photography standpoint you will have empty seats and possibly even open tables. It’s a minor thing as it’s just aesthetic, but for some that might be an issue.
The last thing to think about is what meal you are serving. If you are doing a plated meal where your guests chose their entree, that is a deal breaker as the serving staff won’t be able to tell who had what since you won’t have seating cards. If you are doing a set plated meal where everyone has the same meal, then open seating is an option. If you are having a family style meal, that is not a deal breaker, but it does make it a bit tricky for your catering team as they won’t know how much to serve per table. It’s not insurmountable, but it’s not ideal as you may end up having to pay for extra food. If you are doing a buffet, or stations you are a-ok for an open seating plan.
Now is an open seating plan right for you and your wedding? Besides our one deal breaker, it really just depends on your wedding and what works best for you. Take into account the different factors and I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.
(Photo credit: McAllister Photography)
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