Sunday, December 02, 2007

SEATING SLIP UPS REDUX: THOUGHTS FROM THE WEDDING FAIRY

A few months ago, I received a comment from a reader, which I wanted to share here, as I re-visit the concept of table arrangements--in connection with my own experiences as I plan my wedding to TallGuy (May, 2008).

"I stumbled upon your blog after googling "sweetheart table" and was very happy to find someone else as puzzled about this as I was. It just seems self-absorbed and weird -- if a couple is putting together a reception and inviting guests, why don't they want to sit with them?!?

I love your blog. I find myself simultaneously fascinated and horrified by the proliferation of wedding planning. I really enjoy your posts and hope that you revisit some topics now that you're planning a wedding of your own and compare what it's like being the host rather than guest."

Thank you, Belda! In an attempt to connect my own experiences to what I've written about, I thought I'd start with the topic you addressed in your comment: Sweetheart tables, but more generally, table arrangements.

Seating arrangements are HARD! No question about it. TallGuy and I definitely do NOT consider the sweetheart table as an option. At every wedding I've been to with a sweetheart table, it's always felt so separated and isolating - I hadn't seen the bride at one wedding, and I went up to the table to congratulate her - I felt as if I were interrupting. To each his own - and I'm sure it does make it easier to have to "choose" who to sit with - but it's not for us. The concerns I raised in my prior posts are STILL concerns - being a guest vs. being a bride has not changed a thing.

TallGuy and I are most likely going to have round tables of 8 and 10 (I prefer tables of 8 - I'm trying to create the effect of a "dinner party", and 10 per table seems too impersonal to me).

TallGuy has 2 siblings, and I have 2 siblings. The idea is for us to sit at a table with them (and their significant others/husbands, etc.) - which would give us a table of 10 for the "head table", so to speak. We only will have 4 bridesmaids and groomsmen (8 total, 4 on each side)- and we really don't think the 2 bridesmaids and groomsmen who are not family members will be offended - we don't really see this as a "head table", given that our table will all be family members.

The question becomes, then - what to do with our flower girl/little groomsman? (6 and 8 respectively?) The little boy and girl are TallGuy's niece and nephew -- i.e. his sister's children. I adore them - but seating has become tricky, here.

Including them to have a table of 12 is not an option, as that circular table arrangement is WAY too large - and I would prefer not to seat them at the most prominently placed table in the room (in case they get antsy or overtired, for example, during speeches - placing kids at the center of attention is not the best idea, no matter how well behaved they are - and they are indeed very good kids).

The issue is that ideally, the children's mother will be at our table. There will not be a babysitter at the wedding reception. So how will it work if they are at a table NOT with their mother? Could we seat them with a close relative/family member? Is that inappropriate? A bad idea in terms of making sure they don't get too antsy, etc.?

I am having a lot of trouble figuring out where to seat them. This is a quandry that I will have to tackle in the next few weeks/months, which raises a whole host of issues I've discussed before - and table arrangements AND children combined is something that presents a new set of challenges!

Thoughts are welcomed - while I write about wedding issues, I never have professed myself to be an expert.

As you think about this issue (if you do want to comment), things to keep in mind: this is a black-tie, Saturday evening wedding in New York City. As I mentioned, there will not be a babysitter at the reception, but there will be one upstairs in the club, so they can leave when they want to get out for a while. There are no other kids invited. Finally, one other thing to keep in mind: we are doing the dinner first, THEN the dancing. We're treating the event like a dinner party - the band is awesome, so we know people will be up dancing all night, and don't like the breaks in between songs and dinner, etc.

In any case, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit seating arrangements, as I begin to think about my own experience with them.

Stay tuned!

4 comments:

Jenny said...

I think everyone's entitled to their own opinions regarding this issue, and everyone has different situations they need to keep in mind. I've been to weddings with head tables as well as sweetheart tables and I've never found either weird, because I always figure it's THEIR party and they should be able to do what they want to.

That being said, I'm having a sweetheart table at my own wedding for various reasons:
1. Our bridal party is from all over the world and some of them have never met each other. We would rather that they sit with people they know and have the opportunity to catch up with old friends.
2. Our bridal party wouldn't fit in one table, and we don't want some to feel left out if we sit them at another table.
3. My fiance and I will be going around to each table to say our hellos and thank yous and will make sure we talk to everyone who is able to attend.
4. We could have our family sit at a head table with us, but our families don't speak English well and both sides already expressed their desire to sit with other family members who are coming from overseas.
5. We figure we won't be sitting much at the sweetheart table anyway - we'll be mingling with guests and dancing!

The Wedding Fairy said...

Jenny-

Thank you for your comment! Your response was great (and non-combative which I appreciated!), and I appreciate your setting forth interesting and valid points! :)

I think it's great if people choose to do a sweetheart table, and the reasons for doing it, as you've stated, make sense. The reason weddings run the gamut (in terms of style, preference, feel, formality, etc.) is that people have such varying thoughts and opinions. But what works for one person may not be the right answer for another...as long as people respect and understand that, it's all good!

Thanks for the valuable post, and keep the thoughts coming!

Rhonda said...

Welcome back wedding fairy, we missed you!

I like your idea of having your close family members sitting with you at the “head table.” I also like to see those couples who follow the traditional route of having the wedding party at the head table include the wedding party’s spouses or significant others. This obviously might not work with large wedding parties.

Great post, looking forward to seeing more!

Rhonda
Our Wedding Plus

kelly said...

Given that the nature of your wedding is very adult, black-tie, evening wedding, in NYC, not kid oriented, I would opt to leave the children with the baby-sitter for the entire reception.

I'm making gift baskets for the flower girl and ring bearer and presenting them before the reception. I am hiring a babysitter who will watch them in an extra room (the reception is at a historical mansion) while they play with their new goodies. We'll also probably have a portable DVD player for them to watch movies. Both moms (my cousin and future sister-in-law) were appreciative of the arrangement because it allows them to enjoy the reception without having to tend to a child, but they will still be nearby in case of an emergency. They thought the children would like the arrangement. The caterer is also making kid-friendly plates for them.