One thing we’ve been really conscious of while planning this wedding is wanting to treat our guests well. We are super aware of the fact that everyone will be traveling just to celebrate with us (as I’ve mentioned, the venue is out of the way for even local guests) and we want to make everyone as comfortable and happy as possible. This has come up a few times so far.
First, it came up when choosing a date and time. We wanted a date when Steve’s family would be able to attend and when I would be able to have at least a couple of days off. Conservative Jews (of which I am one) don’t get married on a Saturday until after Shabbat ends, and even though our marriage will not really be recognized by Conservative Judaism (that’s another post for another time), I just wouldn’t feel right getting married on a Saturday. So, we chose lunchtime on Sunday, assuming that anyone who really needs to get back to work on Monday will be able to go home that night.
Our guests’ comfort came up again when finding a caterer. With our budget being small, finding catering we could afford for so many people was a daunting task. As I’ve mentioned, our caterer came through and helped us make it happen. But there was a point where we were considering a smaller meal of sandwiches. Neither of us felt quite right about that. Even though we understand that people are not coming to the wedding for the food, we both felt strongly about serving people a hot meal, especially when they’ve traveled to get there.
When choosing the hotel for our block discount, I definitely looked for somewhere that offered breakfast, because I know how much that adds to the convenience factor (even though the hotel is right behind First Watch…just saying). We also wanted somewhere family-friendly since there will be so many babies and kids attending.
And now, I’ve been thinking about whether or not to do table assignments. Originally, I planned to do free-for-all seating. I figured that it made more sense given the casual picnic atmosphere that we aiming for. It felt more informal, and I liked the idea of people just mingling around. Plus, it was one more task I could delete off the old to-do list, right?
Wrong. My family quickly set me straight. I was shocked that they actually all agreed that we should have assigned seating; we rarely all agree on anything without some debate, so I figured I should listen. They pointed out that if we were going to have anything structured during lunch (toasts, first dance, etc), then we should make lunch more structured by having people sit down. They could mingle after they ate. And who walks around visiting people with a plate full of (delicious) pasta, anyway?
Also, I realized that there are a handful of people we’re inviting who don’t really know anyone else. And it really is kinder to those guests to seat them at a table where we know people will be outgoing and friendly. Of course, we could ask some friends to just keep an eye out for them, but I think I would be worrying about that when I should be enjoying myself. So having assigned seating is really better for those individual guests and for me.
What it comes down to is that for such a big, diverse group as we’ll have, having assigned seating is more thoughtful. It releases guests from that momentary hectic-ness of trying to get seats with their friends and family. It ensures that individual guests will have people to talk to. And it also will give us the opportunity to introduce friends and family from the different parts of our lives. Sharing a meal with strangers, breaking bread, can turn you into friends. It can really help bring our two sides together.