If you are trying to decide between assigned seating or letting guests choose where to sit, you’ve come to the right place! By the time it comes to this part of your wedding planning, you’ve already made hundreds of other decisions. We don’t blame you if you’re feeling a bit confused and unsure of what to do. In this post, we’ll clearly define assigned seating and open seating, list the pros and cons, and offer helpful alternatives.
The key is to think about how you would like your guests to experience your wedding. Are you hosting fewer than 50 people who all know each other quite well? Perhaps assigned seating will feel too formal for you. Will you have a larger wedding with more people to coordinate? Assigned seats may be best for you. Take a peek at the options below!
Main image credit: Renata Dapsyte Photography
In this instance, there is no table plan, seating chart or assigned seats of any kind. Your guests can walk into your reception venue and choose where they would like to sit.
Pro: Creates a relaxed atmosphere, which is ideal for weddings of up to 50 guests.
Pro: Guests can choose where they sit and who they sit with.
Pro: You won’t need a seating plan, saving you lots of time.
Con: Can cause confusion about where to sit.
Con: Lots of time spent milling around, trying to decide where to sit.
Con: Awkward situations with guests saving seats for others, or partners and families being split up.
Con: Some full tables and some empty (it’s not uncommon for guests to drag their chair to another table).
Assigned seating is where you have created a table plan or seating chart to let guests know where they are sitting. Each table has a seat assigned to a particular person.
Pro: Less confusion for guests.
Pro: More control as guests enter the venue, saving time for everybody.
Pro: Can separate guests who don’t get along, such as divorced parents.
Pro: You can choose to seat guests together who don’t know each other but may get along, like your college friend and favourite cousin.
Pro: Can keep track of guests with food allergies and dietary restrictions.
Con: Guests may not like their seat, or the people they sit with.
Con: Some guests may be hurt, offended or insulted by their placement.
Con: It’s time-consuming to arrange beforehand.
You don’t have to choose assigned or open seating. There are a couple of options that select the pros from each!
Partially assigned seating: Let your immediate family and bridal party know where they should sit. Then, unassigned and open seating for everyone else.
Assigned tables, but not seats: Select which table each person will sit at and allow them to choose their seat and who sits next to them.
Kelly is a former wedding planner and a lover of anything pink. She believes that any bride can plan her own wedding, with a few tips and helpful tools.