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A dozen round tables with assigned numbers isn’t the only way to seat wedding guests. There are so many overlooked seating options that can surprise your loved ones and create a memorable atmosphere for your reception, large or small.
Circular Ceremony Seating
Often, there is so much emphasis on where to seat guests at the reception that ceremony seating can get overlooked. Although standard seating may be the only feasible option at a church or temple, non-religious venues and outdoor receptions offer more flexibility. We especially love circular ceremony seating (also know as a ceremony in the round) because it creates a warmer and more intimate setting. Unlike a traditional ceremony format, where the bride and groom have their backs turned, circular seating provides a better visual aspect for everyone involved. One important factor to keep in mind is that the wedding processional should circle around the wedding canopy so that all of the guests can see the bridal party as they make their entrance.
Replicate the vibe of a chic urban hotspot with lounge-style seating featuring couches and pods with coffee tables. You can get this furniture through your venue or the rental company of your choice. Sometimes decorators and florists also get involved with the aesthetic look of an event and furniture arrangements so they may be able to assist you in renting pieces that will achieve your desired look. Tapas are an excellent catering choice for lounge-style events and drink options may include cocktail servers or bottle service. Both drink styles allow guests to literally “lounge” without having to get up for a drink from an open bar.
Vignette seating is another style to get away from the traditional round table arrangement and creates several intimate areas for your guests. It includes the use of rectangular tables, square tables, or both to create a variety of unique “vignettes” (or scenes) in different parts of your reception. Banquette seating with chairs on one side of a table and booth-style or bench seating on the other is another possible vignette arrangement. This type of seating is lovely for all event sizes; the shape of your venue space, the available furniture and whether or not you want a more non-traditional look for your big day are all considerations.
If you want your reception to have a laid-back feel, then cocktail party seating may be your best bet. Cocktail parties typically don’t have assigned seating, and they encourage guests to mingle with one another. Provide high tables and stools in case your loved ones want an option to sit while enjoying food and drinks. However, we typically don’t recommend cocktail party seating for elderly guests who may not want to stand or would find bar stools uncomfortable, so it depends on the breakdown of your particular crowd.
Rather than going for round or square tables, consider family-style seating, which utilizes long tables that can seat anywhere from 20 to 40 people. This style of seating creates a very stylized look, yet has surprising flexibility. One long table can work well for an intimate outdoor wedding while several family-style tables can fill a large ballroom, creating a grand ambiance for your wedding reception.
Rotating Bride and Groom
As an interactive alternative to a traditional sweetheart table (where you and your groom sit apart from everyone), you can rotate your courses by joining the various guest tables throughout the evening. It gives you more quality time to spend with your loved ones, and it creates a more intimate environment for your celebration. The most effective approach is to take the place of two people already seated at a table while they move temporarily to another. (The people being moved are notified in advance and then move back for the rest of the reception.) This type of seating can work well for any event, large or small. Although you may not get to sit at every table, you will be better able to interact with some of your guests rather than being locked into one table for the entire event.
If you’re hosting a formal wedding reception and want to stick to assigned seating, you can still spice things up. Consider using unique place cards or displaying a seating chart at the entrance to your party. You could even make use of technology by projecting guests’ names and table numbers onto a large-screen monitor. Regardless of what you choose, keep in mind that the style of your reception seating should work well within your venue and reflect the feeling that you wish to evoke.