Benefits of a Wedding Without Seating Charts

Benefits of a Wedding Without Seating Charts

One of the most common complaints from wedding-planning couples is the beast that is the seating chart. Setting up the perfect seating chart is like playing a high-stress game of Jenga. You want to make sure that your recently divorced aunt and uncle are far enough away from each other while still feeling like part of the family.

On the other hand, you have a hard time deciphering what “family” means to you exactly, so when it comes to your best friends since childhood, you’re torn as to where to seat them. And if you have to hear your younger brother complain about the “kids’ table” one more time, you’ll tear the chart up yourself.

Come to think of it, tossing the seating chart out the window isn’t the worst idea. Every guest at your wedding was invited because of the love they share for you as a couple, so why can’t everyone celebrate together? Some couples are forgoing the seating chart in favor of a more freeform reception, and it might not be the worst idea.

The beginning of any reception is often a flurry of guests grabbing that first cocktail and tracking down their place cards before finding their way to their assigned tables. Without specific seating arrangements, just think about how much you’ll save!

Reduce Confusion

Gone are the furrowed brows and flustered relatives fumbling for their reading glasses. Without an assigned destination, your elderly guests can breathe a sigh of relief when they step into your reception. Instead of worrying about tiny print or skewed table numbers, they’ll be able to get a drink and have a seat wherever they please.

Hand in hand with the seating chart comes a guaranteed incident of guests accidentally taking the wrong seat (or, on the other hand, attempting to switch seats or tables altogether). In most cases, such a situation is handled gracefully, but it can invite a slightly uncomfortable air if the two guests are strangers. No one wants a first impression to be muddled by a wrongdoing, no matter how politely it is pointed out. Eliminating the seating chart eliminates any chance of an awkward round of musical chairs.

Save Time

In addition to the time it takes for the newlyweds to travel between the ceremony and the reception, some couples might work in a photo shoot or hang behind to tie up loose ends at the ceremony site. Often an hour or more can pass, during which most guests are getting the party started at the reception—and hunting for their tables. With the bride and groom held up elsewhere, there’s minimal pressure for the guests to make a beeline for their seats.

However, think about how quickly a group of 50 people can be seated if they aren’t each hunting for a specific chair. If your schedule allows your photo shoot to take place at a different time during the big day, you could gain a chunk of valuable reception time by tossing the seating chart.

Save Money

Weddings are expensive, and brides on a budget will take any opportunity they get to save a few pennies during the planning. Think about how much money goes into your seating chart, starting with all the sheets of paper you use just trying to get it organized.

You have to print the place cards and present them nicely on a separate table at the reception. (Whether you use individual picture frames or wine corks for each card, remember you have to do this for every single guest—it adds up!) And then you have to decorate the table that holds the place cards, so at the very least, you’re looking at yet another tablecloth and another centerpiece. Take away the place cards, their holders, and the table that holds them, and you’ll save more than just money—you’ll also be saving space on your reception floor.

Create a New Tradition

Seating charts are one of the more traditional aspects of weddings, so it’s understandable if you’re hesitant to toss yours out altogether. However, here’s some more food for thought: scratching assigned seats from your reception also opens up your dinner options. With your guests feeling free to float around the room, suddenly heavy hors d’oeuvres or a buffet doesn’t seem quite as chaotic as you imagined before.

Some of the elderly guests might view the omission of the seating chart as an unruly decision, but the truth of the matter is you’re encouraging your guests to mingle. You’re treating each guest as an equal member of your family, and by nixing assigned seats, you’re asking them to treat each other the same way. Weddings are all about love, after all, and this is just another way to invite love into your special day. Why not take a chance?


Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.