Sunday, December 11, 2005

Seating Slip-Ups (Cont.): Do's, Dont's, and the Dais

Before I get into the tricks of the trade with Dais tables, I want to throw out a little movie trivia for my readers. What is the most famous line uttered in the 1987 hit, Dirty Dancing? The $100,000.00 answer is, of course, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”

So your bridesmaid’s name may not be Baby, but that line underscores how she’ll feel if she ends up at that corner of the Dais -- particularly when she doesn’t have a date on her arm (or one as cute as Johnny Castle).

My friend Julie, part of the wedding party for her friend Catherine, was happily single and content with going to the reception on her own. After all, she thought, how bad could it be with one of her good friends (Pam) in the wedding party as well? The answer was: pretty bad. Catherine decided to put Julie in the corner--sans date--and next to a random, drunken groomsman (who we'll call JackandCokeGuy) whose wife couldn’t make it to the event.

Instead of placing her near the one friend in the wedding party that she knew, Catherine didn’t pay much attention to the fact that Julie was on the absolute end of the dais seated next to only one person. Julie had only met JackandCokeGuy a few hours before, and was made particularly uncomfortable by his downing his signature drink of choice, and the fact that his flirting didn’t seem to jive with his having a wife at all! Julie put it this way to me: “It was a rather weird situation, to put it mildly. It was kind of strange that she didn’t bother putting me near Pam… It was like I was relegated to Siberia in that corner, and all I had to show for it was a shady groomsman who spent the whole night talking about himself.”

Although this is merely one problem that may occur as the result of using a dais table, it goes to show that you should almost think of your seating arrangements and table placements in the larger sense of a chess game.

Every individual is a “piece” and only certain pieces work with others--failure to recognize this will lead to ill-timed moved and ill-placed players. If you choose to isolate each friend and family member as an individual, with specific needs and desires, it may become more sensible when you look at the table as a whole. While the dais table may work well in some situations, the scenario described above indicates how that seating arrangement may fail certain players. Sure, you may not foresee that your fiance's best guy friend will turn into JackandCokeGuy, but if you try and think about what COULD happen, you can avoid what SHOULDN'T happen.

A small dose of sense can go a long way. Make sure you have some....

Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

ok, i've never hear the term 'deis table' outside this that another term for the head table with the whole bridal party seated there?

the wedding fairy said...

Hi - good question. I should have explained it better to begin my post.

First of all, the term "dais" isn't bridal specific. Webster's dictionary defines it as a high table or a raised platform (as in a hall or large room). Although not all etiquette books use the term, I've come to associate what they call a rectangular or U-shaped table where members of the bridal party sit with the "dais" concept. Some of those books have the specific order of who sits next to whom, and indicate that the table should face the rest of the room if people choose this type of seating.

Therefore, I think of a deis table as a table with the most important members of a big meeting - I've actually heard this term used when referring to speakers at a law conference, but I have extended the term to include what people would probably just refer to as the "raised bridal table."

In all my reading about the dais table, it seems to be a rectangular or u-shaped arrangement facing the audience. The reason I don't like the idea of it is that I associate this type of arrangement with HAVING AN AUDIENCE - which seems to make it feel like the bride/groom/bridesmaids and groomsmen are up there for show, rather than being part of the wedding with other guests....

Thanks for asking for clarification - I hope that makes sense!