Open Seating vs. Assigned Seating for Your Wedding Reception | Organizing

August 28, 2019 by Just Marry!

Open Seating vs. Assigned Seating for Your Wedding Reception | Organizing

Should you have open seating or assigned seating at your wedding reception? This will probably be among your top questions as you dive into the reception planning portion of your wedding day. It’s okay…I’m here to help!

Read on for my top tips to help you visualize your wedding reception seating. I’ll simplify things by breaking down the pros and cons of open seating vs. assigned seating. Let’s get to it!


With open seating, you don’t arrange any sort of seating chart or plan. You simply allow all of your guests to select which seat and table they want to sit at when they enter the reception.

  • PRO #1 - Frees up time

    Open seating allows you the freedom to focus your time and attention on other aspects of your wedding planning by not having to create a seating chart, place cards, or table numbers.

  • PRO #2 - Can prevent stress

    It can also prevent guests from getting upset with you for placing them at a table where they don’t want to sit.

Open Seating vs Assigned Seating - Just Marry Weddings - Photos with Jill
  • CON #1 - Can cause stress

    Open seating can create chaos and disagreements among your guests.

  • CON #2 - It's all outside of your control

    Guests you might want seated closest to you could end up on the far end of the room, unable to see you.

  • CON #3 - There might be open seats

    You have to include seating for more than your expected guest count to allot for certain numbers of people at each table. You might then have seats and place settings left open.

  • CON #4 - It can disrupt your schedule

    Your guests may take longer to actually be seated as they’re trying to figure out where to sit, which can eat up time in the schedule of events.

We recommend using open seating only if you have a very small guest count or have a very accommodating group of guests.


With assigned seating, you have either one seating chart you display with the names of your guests listed under each table number, or individual place cards with the names of each of your guests and their table numbers listed.

  • PRO #1 - Puts guests at ease

    Assigned seating allows you to group guests who you know would enjoy dining together and prevents guests having to stress about choosing where to sit.

  • PRO #2 - Gives you more control

    This seating option allows you to seat your parents or loved ones closest to you with the best view of the sweetheart or head table and you can set the room for your exact expected number of guests.

  • PRO #3 - You can tie it into your theme

    You get to create a seating chart, place cards, or table numbers to your wedding theme.

  • PRO #4 - Helps your catering team

    Your place cards can be coded for the catering team with the meal the guest is selecting, so there are no wires crossed with who is getting which meal.

Open Seating vs Assigned Seating - Just Marry Weddings - Erika Grace Photography
  • CON #1 - It's more time-intensive

    You will have to create a seating chart or place cards, which can be a tedious and stressful task depending upon your group size.

  • CON #2 - Changes can cause headaches

    If you have any last-minute guest changes, you may have to make adjustments.

We recommend assigned seating versus open seating in most cases. It allows for a more flawless and stress-free experience for everyone.

Open Seating Vs Assigned Seating - Just Marry Weddings - Miranda Grey Photography

If you decide to go with an assigned seating plan, there are two routes you can take: open seating at assigned tables or assigned seats at assigned tables.


This option is the most popular one. It allows freedom for your guests, but not enough to create chaos. You simply assign your guests to a specific table and allow them to choose whom they sit beside. For this seating option, you’ll create either a main seating chart or place cards for your guests so they know where to sit.


This reception seating option is the second most popular. It’s the most controlled of the options, as you choose which table and specific seat your guests sit at. For this seating arrangement, you’ll typically create a seating chart, escort cards, and place cards.

The seating chart provides a general overview of all the tables. Escort cards are less formal versions of place cards and they include the guest’s name and table number when they enter the reception. Place cards are then located at each guest’s assigned seat at their table.

Open Seating vs Assigned Seating - Just Marry - Binary Flips LLC

Whichever option you choose for your wedding reception seating, just remember that everyone is there for you and to enjoy your moment. So sit back, relax, and have fun!


There’s more to consider when planning your wedding reception than deciding whether to do open or assigned seating. Check out these related posts for all the tips and tricks you need to know right now:


Whether you’re seeking advice on your wedding reception seating or you’d like to speak with one of our planners, we’re here to help! Simply fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you right away. Whatever your planning needs may be, we’d love to welcome you into the Just Marry! family!

Let's discuss your dream wedding!

Open Seating vs. Assigned Seating for Your Wedding Reception | Organizing

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