Back when the man who’s now my husband and I were deep in the throes of planning our wedding, we made a decision: To hell with the seating chart! Sure, there are good reasons to have one — to alleviate the overwhelming stress of forcing guests to choose their own chair, to inspire mingling betwixt the families, to engage in a little good-intentioned matchmaking. But there were already so many decisions to make that the mere thought of architecting a seating chart seemed like it might become the straw that would break the camel’s back. I’d already suffered a meltdown or three — once, when we were trying to whittle down the guest list, and I threw myself on the floor before my fiancé, parents, and sister, and cried, “Who the [expletive deleted] is cousin Eddie?” Or the time when we were registering for gifts: My other half was happily occupied with the bar code scanning gun when suddenly I became overwhelmed (china and towels and George Foreman grills, oh my!), and decided to take a nap on the Calvin Klein display in the bedding department.
At a certain point, the seemingly endless list of tasks can drive even the sanest bride and groom to consider elopement, and so, when faced with the seating question, we figured, why bother? After all, how hard is it for people to just pick a seat, make a little conversation throughout the meal (“How do you know the bride/groom?” or, “Mmm, this saucy chicken sure is delicious!”), and then move on to greener pastures once the plates have been cleared?
This decision, as is the case with any wedding-related decision, was second-guessed, analyzed, and gossiped about by concerned third parties (and fourth parties, and fifth parties twice-removed). “Bbbbut, how will everyone know where to sit?” they’d ask, a distinct look of panic in their eyes, as though our friends and family had never been faced with such an intense decision before.
But we had faith. They’re a friendly bunch. So we decided to throw caution to the wind and let it be a free-for-all. And guess what? My college roommate bonded with my aunt and uncle. My husband’s cousin made friends with my boss. And when the band kicked into gear, everyone hit the dance floor.