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In Defense of Assigned Seating

For many, unassigned seating has been a much-needed logistical break; brides are wont to break out in hives while working on the dreaded seating chart. Now according to Insider, unassigned seating could be a thing of the past.

This might sound counterintuitive. In pop culture, weddings always have assigned seating, so it’s common to assume that this is standard practice. But many couples have opted for unassigned seating to create an informal, intimate feeling for their guests.

We don’t generally take sides, but we’ve got a stake in this one: we think it’s good that unassigned seating is going away! There’s a time and a place—and we’ll get to that—but on your big day, we think assigned seating is the way to go.

Here’s why.

COVID-19 Security

It may feel like the pandemic is over, but we’re not actually there yet. Even though many of us are vaccinated and exercising an abundance of caution, the fear persists—will there be another wave?

Assigned seating will prove the only way to go during our COVID-era. Even though we may not strictly be required to interact only in bubbles of six, keeping these bubbles in mind doesn’t hurt—even into 2022.

Assigned seating allows us to keep track of, and work within, those functional bubbles. In the terrible event that COVID-19 strikes the guests at a given wedding, assigned seating makes it possible to prioritize contacting those most likely to be impacted.

Providing this information to your guests and health authorities could save not only a lot of time, but even lives. Better safe than sorry, but let’s plan to avoid it coming to that.

Matches Made in Heaven

The pandemic also changed how we interact with people. Remember when your barista said “enjoy your coffee” the other day and you blurted out “you too!”? Yeah, it’s not just you. We’re all a bit more awkward and a lot of us are a bit more nervous than we used to be.

Assigned seating makes a world of difference for those nervous nellies. By taking the time to create your seating chart, you’ll set your guests up to enjoy your wedding celebration.

This ensures couples can be seated together, families won’t struggle to find a larger number of seats at one table—and you can even do a little meddling, if you want. Think your single coworker should meet your old school mate? Seat them together.

And they can’t get annoyed because it’s your wedding day—so sayeth the wedding powers that be. But you didn’t hear that from us!

Get Rid of the Guesswork

Even when everything runs according to plan, it’s incredibly challenging to keep a wedding on schedule. Whether you have a plated, full-service dinner or a buffet, a huge guestlist or a much smaller one, any confusion could lead to serious schedule snafus.

Unassigned seating is much more common for weddings which provide a buffet service, but this still presents its challenges. People spend a long time looking for a place to sit with people they like, they get distracted and mill about, and it takes far longer for dinner to wrap up.

Assigned seating eliminates this problem at the root. For plated dinner service, everyone will be seated precisely where they need to be; for buffet service, tables can be called up in a specific order with little to no confusion.

That is a recipe for a prompt—on schedule—reception, which is good for everyone.

Show Your Guests You Care

When it comes to wedding favours, striking the perfect balance of thoughtfulness and usefulness can be very tricky.

The secret? Personalize your favours. And assigned seating is the key to this strategy.

When you create a seating chart, it allows for two things. First, you demonstrate to your guests that you care about them by thoughtfully placing them at a table you think they’ll enjoy. Going to the trouble of assigning seating shows your guests you’re happy they’re with you.

Second, it allows you to easily personalize favours and guest experience.

Your name cards and placeholders? They become beautiful, unique favours. Collect sea glass from your favourite stretch of beach and have your calligrapher hand write your guests’ names on the most beautiful pieces. Those little mementos become keepsakes; little reminders of your relationship.

You can also use the place setting as a staging area for your other favours. Set down personalized candles, candy treats, and thank you cards as a package for your guests to unpack when they arrive at their seat. No scrambling to collect gift bags at the end of the night here!

Make Catering a Breeze

Assigned seating is critical for plated, full-service dinners.

When every guest is in their place, catering staff have a much easier job ensuring that each guest gets what they need to enjoy themselves and to stay safe.

For guests with allergies, assigned seating is another layer of protection against accidental cross contamination or being served the wrong plate of food.

The same goes for guests that adhere to specific diets or simply have particular preferences. Assigned seating means caterers will have no trouble locating and serving each guest just as they prefer. This is much nicer than the confusion that can come from trying to place 15 vegetarian meals amid 200 guests with no seating chart.

That said, there is a time and a place for unassigned seating. What are those times, those places? Cocktail hours, after parties, and casual receptions! These are occasions where you should have cozy hideaways and seating areas so guests can mingle and chat.

But as soon as you’re ready for dinner, there should be no question as to where each guest is intended to sit. At least, that’s our two cents!

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