Do I Have to Assign Seating at my Wedding?

You might not know this, but before French’s Point owner, Jessika Brooks Brewer, took on the stewardship of this incredible waterfront wedding venue, she was a wedding planner. Her long years of experience means she’s pretty much seen it all. In this post, she’s going to highlight the pros and cons of using seating charts, escort cards or open seating to help your guests find their seats at your French’s Point wedding reception. She’ll also offer tips for using each one, so you can make an informed decision that not only works with the flow of your wedding, but reflects your creativity and decor.

Escort Cards

Escort cards are the most common reception seating choice.

Typically, escort cards are arranged on a table or board alphabetically by last name to guide guests or “escort” them to their assigned table. Once at the table, the specific seats can be unassigned, or there can be a preset place card designating the guest’s specific seat at the table.

Pros: Escort cards allow you to get super creative (think tiny jars of strawberry jam for a summer wedding, or fresh peaches or figs for a fall fete) with the guests’ names and table numbers of them. They can double duty as wedding favors, too! Escort cards also take very little time for your guests to locate, which moves the seating process along swiftly; a good option if you have a large guest list.

Cons: Escort cards can be time consuming to make, especially if you are into DIY wedding projects! In our experience, they’re also often left behind by guests after a wedding, which can feel like a waste of your time, energy, and money. (Unless of course you make the escort card edible, like a Clementine orange, or chocolate bar or drinkable, like a mini-champagne bottle!)

Tips: Arrange the escort cards alphabetically (by last name then first name) in advance of your arrival well in advance of your wedding day. Compare this layout to your seating chart one last time to be sure they match up and that no one has been left off the list!

Seating Chart

Seating charts are the most formal of seating designation options.

A seating chart is a large board that lists all of the tables and which guest is setting at which table. We’ve seen creative seating charts on elegant mirrors, antique windows, and even a map of Maine! Our friend El, from El’s Cards makes gorgeous custom watercolor seating charts.

Pros: Unlike escort cards, a seating chart is only one sign (or two if you have a large number of guests) that you or your wedding planner need to design and execute. This can provide a more cost-effective alternative to escort cards. It also allows you maximum control over social orchestration of the day to ensure guests mingle, meet new people and enjoy the company of the people at their table.

Cons: Once you’ve designed and printed the chart, changes may result in either completely redoing the chart. If a guest cannot attend after sending in their RSVP and after you’ve created your masterpiece seating chart, you either have to re-do the sign or leave open seats. Also, long lines of guests can form at seating charts, while each person is looking for their table, which can slow the seating process down.

Tips: If you go this route, consider providing more than one chart to speed up the seating process and eliminate long lines. Also, arrange names on the chart by last name then first alphabetically, rather than by table number. If you go this route with your seating, be sure to have a full name for each of your guests.

Open Seating

Open seating plans are the most casual way to offer seating to your guests.

Open seating at your wedding is just like it sounds: you provide tables and your guests can choose any seat they like.

Pros: This seating style tends to set the most relaxed tone because guests who know each other will naturally sit together. It also requires less planning on your part!

Cons: This seating style often results in some tables with no guests seated at them and some tables with more than the ideal number of guests seated at it, as guests define where they wish to sit and sometimes pull up extra chairs from other tables. With this seating style, you have to limit your meal style options to buffet/stations, or family style dishes for guests to choose from at the table. A seated meal of this style can be costly due to additional waste and cost because the caterer has to prepare more food than needed.

Tips: If you choose this seating style for your event, opt for buffet or stations meal format. It furthers the causal vibe and reduces cost at the same time.

In the end, the choice is really yours for your special day! Which seating option do you think you’ll choose? Leave your response in the comment below. Have more questions about your French’s Point wedding, give us a call (207) 567-3650 or shoot us an email!

Featured photo by Cuppa Photography.

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Rebecca Arthurs Photography
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