Marilyn’s Blog

Guest seating arrangement

Assigning Seats and Tables

Open seating may seem as if it would be fun and spontaneous, but guests shouldn’t have to feel like they’re the new kid in the school cafeteria. You don’t want them to be stranded, without somewhere welcoming to sit, or rushed into claiming territory.

That said, you needn’t micromanage — only the most formal receptions require place cards at each setting, says Joyce Westin Dunne, a Chicago wedding planner. Assigning only tables and letting guests choose their chairs is perfectly acceptable.

Should you decide to forgo table assignments, remember that your guests will take longer to seat themselves. And you’ll need to account for more settings than number of guests, since it’s inevitable that there will be incomplete tables (for example, six guests seated at a table of eight).