Do We Need Assigned Seating for a Buffet Wedding Reception?

Etiquette

If you've decided to opt for a buffet instead of a plated or family-style meal for your wedding reception, is assigned seating necessary for your guests? Would it be too formal for the casual style of meal? Our wedding etiquette experts are here to answer your wedding reception questions in our daily post.

We're having a buffet dinner at our reception. Do we have to have assigned seating, or can I let guests sit wherever they'd like?

Though a buffet-style reception is less formal than a plated multi-course dinner, you're still serving a meal (as opposed to a cocktail-party reception, or a cake-and-punch party), so more formal seating arrangements are definitely suggested. Your guests will appreciate having a designated place to sit at the reception and assigned tables will lend a sense of organization to the dinner. (At a buffet-style reception, a member of the catering staff will usually go table by table, notifying guests when it is their turn to hit the buffet.) But if the idea of assigned seating is too formal or stuffy for the type of party you're hoping to throw, then you could always simply assign guests to tables, then let them sit wherever they'd like at the table. The only exception to this rule? If your wedding is very casual and intimate (fewer than 50 guests). Then, you can invite them to sit wherever they want. Otherwise, take the extra step to assign table seating and your guests will appreciate knowing exactly where to sit to enjoy the party.

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