Assigned vs. Open Seating at Your Wedding

What to do at your wedding when you don’t want to face the daunting task of a seating chart. These planners and Be Inspired PR Tastemakers on our wedding blog today have seen many a wedding – aka they know the do’s and dont’s! And although everyone has a unique situation, we bet their insight on whether to have assigned or open seating at your wedding will be helpful! So before you decide where to put the 2nd cousins, read this! And this too, while you’re at it :).


Diane of  Dee Kay Events 

Do you remember that mad rush of getting to the concert stadium early to be front row for your favorite band because you had floor seats? Sure, it was awesome when you were in high school but not at wedding reception. You do not want your guests to scurry for a “good seat.” In my experience, I prefer assigned seating. It gives your guest a sense of purpose when they walk into your reception and keeps everyone calm. It may seem like a daunting and tedious task, but in the end, your sweat and tears will pay off. Happy guests, happy wedding! Or, if you feel your guests won’t mind, at the very least, place relatives and families together and place reserved signs on the tables for them. This way Grandma isn’t bumped to sit alone with your co-workers and small children are with their parents. If you are looking to save on costs in re of escort card or place cards, make a poster with names and seat assignments and put in a beautiful frame. You can find some pre-designed ones on Etsy to download!

Assigned vs. Open Seating at Your Wedding

Photo by Love, Sylvia


Kate Siegel of Kate Siegel Fine Events

As a wedding planner, having spent several years accommodating the request of my clients, I have seen the pros and cons of both assigned seating and open seating. After countless events, I default to assign seating.

Your wedding is a celebration of you and your mate, assigned seating shows your guest that you’ve considered them in the order of events, that you’ve curated the guest experience with their comfort and enjoyment of the day in mind. By taking the time to consider the seating of attending guest you are likely to avoid friendly feuds, mixed politics, maybe even play matcher-maker amongst your single friends. Assigned seating additionally helps your planner adjust for unforeseen events. Perhaps your Uncle shows up with his 4 kids or you find out your best friend and her boyfriend’s international flight is delayed and they won’t be making the wedding in time. Since you’ve considered the seating before hand, you can easily adapt by shifting the seating around to make sure that guest are comfortably seated and that tables are not left feeling bare.

I find that open seating can be successful in smaller applications such as showers and smaller birthday parties. Weddings tend to have higher levels of people in attendance. Careful planning and thought on the front side of your event will help to better insure a seamless experience for your guest, so they can focus on the bride and groom, the reason they’re there in the first place.

Assigned vs. Open Seating at Your Wedding


Stephanie Martin of One Fine Day Events

Absolutely, hands down, definitely have assigned seating for your wedding! Open seating creates chaos and usually ends up with people dragging chairs to an overcrowded table so that groups of friends can all sit together. On the other side of this spectrum, open seating can also leave some people sitting at a table of people they don’t mesh with so it really puts a damper onto what could be a very enjoyable dinner. You will have groups of friends that will travel from near and far to celebrate your wedding. Some may want to meet new people, but most will want to see their friends and family members and enjoy this time with them. Although creating a seating plan is a tedious job, I highly recommend taking the time to do so and pairing your guests with people they will enjoy sitting with for the 1 – 2 hour dinner service. This will only elevate the fun factor of your wedding and create a more memorable experience. If guests don’t enjoy their company during dinner they are more likely to leave early.

Assigned vs. Open Seating at Your Wedding

Photo by Mike Larson


Cristen Faherty of Captivatingly Chic Celebrations 

I believe there are pros and cons to both Open Seating vs. Assigned Seating! I do love open seating when it is a smaller, close-knit group of family and friends; when you know that everyone is comfortable and is very familiar with one another. I have done weddings before where guests were assigned a row of long farm tables and could then sit where they pleased within the row. This worked out great because it gave more seating choices than at a round table of 10; you were guaranteed to sit around someone you enjoyed chatting with! On the other hand, assigned seating makes life easier for guests that would have to otherwise scramble for a seat in an open plan, especially when you have multiple tables in various sizes. Quite often there are guests that you know don’t get along or may only know a few other guests and this is where assigned seating is perfect! It is important to really know your guests and understand the relationships amongst them.

Assigned vs. Open Seating at Your Wedding

Photo by Jen Osojnicki



13 responses to “Assigned vs. Open Seating at Your Wedding

  1. So helpful!! I thought open-seating would just be easier, but now I’m thinking assigned seats might be worth the extra work!

  2. literally sending this to all of my engaged girlfriends! things you never think about until planning a wedding lol

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