Reserved vs. Open Seating at a Wedding

 

 

Do We Need a Guest Seating Plan? What are the pros and cons of reserved seating vs. open seating at a wedding?

We get asked these questions all the time. Our answer to the seating plan is always, YES, unless it is a small intimate wedding. Let me explain why. We know it sound stressful and like a lot of work to assign every single guest to a table, but our experience shows us that the guest experience is much better when there is a plan and feelings don’t get hurt.

 

You may ask, “If we rent the exact number of chairs as our guest count, why would there be any problems if we just have open seating?” One of the first things that comes to mind is that “people will be people”, and everyone is afraid of missing out on what they perceive to be the best table. We’ve seen the mad rush happen too many times into the dinner reception room, and if your immediate family is taking photos, they may end up sitting in the corner. Secondly, it never works out when there’s open seating for large weddings unless you pay to have a few extra-decorated tables. The reason is because families come in odd and even numbers; if a family of 7 sits at the last open table, and there’s a family of 4 left standing who can’t fit seats together, they will complain that there is nowhere for them to sit, even if there are seats available at several other tables. Make sense?

Elaborate Guest Seating Poster

A seating plan will ensure that couples, friends and families who want to sit together, can. Elderly guests will also thank you, as they may not want to sit close to the speakers or far from the bathrooms; they also appreciate sitting where they can see and hear the formalities. Although some guests may not get to sit exactly where they would have preferred, assigned seating will greatly reduce the amount of unhappy guests and create an overall better guest experience. Keep in mind, that guests can always move around if they please or squeeze in a few people from another table too.

 

 

A Sweetheart Table or Large Head Table For The Entire Wedding Party?

More often than not, your wedding party members will have spouses, dates or families they would like to sit with during dinner. This is why so many couples choose a sweetheart table over a large head table that only includes their wedding party. A nice alternative is to have the sweet heart table in the center, and tables on each side of it assigned to your wedding party and their significant others. This option keeps everyone close by the married couple, and gives the wedding party the opportunity to enjoy their families also. Believe it or not, the married couple does not sit at their dinner table very long. Typically the couple gets bombarded with loving guests who want to congratulate them; they will then eat, and eventually get up and begin visiting each table fairly quickly.

 

However, many brides have dreamt of a large head table with their entire wedding party on each side of them. If this is something that is very important to you, it is absolutely your preference to choose this option. A long, beautifully decorated head table is always a wow factor and main focal point of the reception room. It’s your choice.

 

Family Seating at a Wedding

 

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s not uncommon for divorced parents to want their own tables. This is another plus for creating a seating plan. Every couple’s situation is unique. If both of your parents are friends, they may want to all sit together in front of your table. If they are close to the officiant, and there are several grandparents, you may choose to have two or three tables near your table. It’s best to work this out with your venue and draw up the floor plan at least a month prior to your wedding to begin thinking this through. The farther in advance you start thinking about this, the less stress you will have as you approach your big day. Get your Mom’s involved, if it becomes too stressful, they will be thrilled to be involved and help you with your seating plan.

 

 

How to Assign Guests to Dinner Reception Tables

 

As for the rest of your guests, it’s always best to put people together who know each other, or who have common interests and would enjoy sitting together. The main thing to remember is that the dinner segment doesn’t last all night. Eventually your goal is to get your guests up and on the dance floor or actively involved in your celebration, so don’t stress too much about the seating arrangements. Set a plan, and remember there may be some guests sitting with people they may not know very well. It will be ok! If your table is centered in the middle of the room, everyone should have a great seat. If your head table is at the far end of the room, it will be more challenging to keep the guests happy who are at the back of the room. Keep this in mind before choosing a venue.

 

 

Seating Plans for Children

If you have children yourselves, you may want to seat them with you at your table. However, many times they have more fun sitting with cousins and grand parents since you will be pulled in many directions. Although the idea of a kids only table, with coloring books and fun activities sounds like a great idea, most of the time children won’t remain at that table when dinner starts. It’s sort of like Thanksgiving where they want to sit at the “big table.” Most children want to sit next to their parents instead of at a kid’s table in the corner. This doesn’t mean they won’t visit the kids activity table at some point in the night to draw or do activities, so it’s not a bad idea to still have a kids activity table.

 

Seating Chart, Place Cards or Escort Cards?

Once you’ve gotten your final guest count completed and figured out where to put everyone, all you have to do is decide how to guide guests to their seats.

 

A Guest Seating Chart or Poster

One of the easiest ways to do this is with a Guest Seating Chart that is placed in a highly visible place during the cocktail hour.

 

Usually displayed alphabetically near the entrance of the reception, seating charts provide a large visual of all guests’ names with their designated tables. This option is the least stressful in our opinion, as it doesn’t require you to type out every guests name on a card and figure out where they will sit at their table. We provide a template for our couples that they can fill out, and then we send it off to our local printer for them. We display it in the cocktail reception on an easel, and the guests simply read their name on the chart or poster and look for their table number. You can also choose to make this a DIY project and create your own. The venue director or DJ/Emcee will inform the guests how the table numbers are arranged before they begin seating everyone.

Guest seating poster_Bella Sera

Guest seating chart DIY

Place Cards

These tented cards can be used along with an escort card or alone. Displayed in alphabetical order on a table near the entrance of the reception, they usually include the guest’s name and table number. Once at the table, guests can select their own seats.

Escort cards at platinum bella sera wedding

 

Escort Cards

These are the most formal, and take the most work. Used in the most formal seating plans, escort cards usually contain the guest’s name on the outer envelope, and their table number on the inside card. Place cards will then be placed at each place setting at each table, designating their seats.

 

 

Before creating your seating plan, ask your venue coordinator for the floor plan for your total guest count. You can experiment with various arrangements before making your final decision for where to seat everyone. When in doubt, trust your instincts. Anticipate some last minute changes to happen, as this is just part of planning an event of this magnitude. If you haven’t received all of your RSVP’s by the date requested, plan on calling those guests. It will save you a lot of stress and frustration if they were to call you at the last minute and tell you they are coming. On the flip side, you don’t want to pay for guests who don’t show up. Your venue and caterer will need your final numbers by a specific date, and most times that number cannot be changed without a change fee.

 

 

Written by Elisabeth Montoya Co-owner and Lead Designer of The Bella Sera Event Center

www.TheBellaSera.com

A Grand Head Table

There are a handful of wedding style elements or focal points that, when done right, can transform the entire dinner ballroom experience. Showcasing a custom designed Grand Head Table with flowing sparkle organza fabric is certainly one way of creating that focal point. This is why Bella Sera’s Lead Designer Elisabeth Montoya custom designed this gorgeous head table linen with lots of bling and romance as part of the Italiano Ultra-Platinum Wedding Package. This ornate linen can be fitted to a head table for 2 or for 22 such as is seen in this beautiful wedding.

By decorating the head table more ornately with bouquets, bling and sparkle, and sitting the wedding party only on one side of the table to observe the guests, it signifies the importance and the head position of the newlyweds.

At the head table, the bride traditionally sits at the groom’s right, with the maid of honor on his left and the best man on the bride’s right. The rest of the party follows suit in an alternating male/female pattern. However, it is very common to see all of the bridesmaids sit on one side and the groomsmen sit on the other also.

Couples are searching for a much more unique wedding design that reflects who they are as a couple, and the head table is a wonderful place to express their unique style. Bella Sera’s design team is constantly creating beautiful decor to help customize each and every wedding.
Venue: The Bella Sera Event Center
Designer: Elisabeth Montoya, Lead Designer Bella Sera
Package: Italiano Ultra-Platinum Wedding Package

Hanging Wedding Cake

A hanging wedding cake is the Bella Sera’s latest twist on a tradition that is part of nearly every wedding celebration. The design team at the Bella Sera is always finding new ways to amaze our couples and delight their guests!

After a bit of brainstorming, the Bella Sera design team decided to get to work and not long after a beautifully decorated table was suspended from our high ceilings. Shortly after its installation, the hanging cake table was put to the test with a four-foot tall cake as its first showpiece!

When the baker arrived to assemble one of the most beautiful and intricate cakes that I have ever seen, and we told him it would be hanging from the ceiling, I’m fairly certain he thought we were crazy. But after proving the strength of the table, the assembly of the cake began and it was nothing short of amazing.

To say that the hanging cake table simply amazes guests is quite the understatement. At each event you can truly see how excited the guests are about such a unique design element. It blows them away. The hanging cake table is such an amazing way to highlight your wedding cake and make it truly something that will leave an impression on your guests!

At the Bella Sera we are designers and event producers. This is why brides and grooms choose us. We are leaders, innovators and always creating for décor elements that are one of a kind!

 

Created by The Following Wedding Professionals:
Wedding Photography: Mark Alison Photography / Wedding Venue: The Bella Sera Event Center / Packages: Bellissimo /  Wedding Designer: Elisabeth Montoya-Bella Sera/ Décor: Bella Sera Event Center / Bakeries: Elegant Bakery – Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet – MulBerries Cake Shop – Bella Sera Cakes

Creating a Romantic Wedding using Classic Blush and Peach

Peach specialty lighting for a wedding

Many brides are looking for a soft, romantic look for such an important day. The designers at The Bella Sera know exactly how to use the soft shades of classic blush and peach to create the perfect romantic wedding.

They start with a soft pastel palette in the palest pink and lightest peach. Next they add light touches of shimmer and a tiny bit of bling. Then they fill the space with the delicate glow of candlelight. Next they wash the walls with rich seductive specialty lighting  and then they finish the look by setting it all against a white or ivory backdrop.

Voila! You and your guests will be surrounded in an almost ethereal, romantic world. The perfect place for a head over heels romantic wedding.

When the soft romantic look describes the wedding of your dreams, let the amazing design staff at The Bella Sera make your dreams come true.

Bella Sera Staff Attends Wedding Industry Conference

Elisabeth and John Montoya, owners of The Bella Sera Event Center located in the Denver metro area, recently attended the Wedding MBA Convention in Las Vegas.  Taking time out of our busy schedules to stay educated and current on what today’s brides and grooms want for their weddings, as well as how we can improve our business operations, is essential for our continued success in creating spectacular once-in-a-lifetime celebrations for our Denver area couples.

Said Elisabeth “We take it as a special privilege to be able to assist and host wedding ceremonies at our venue and to watch  couples share their vows and take the first step toward their new lives together. By regularly attending conferences and professional trainings, we stay current with what today’s couples truly need and want, and we know we have the best tools to meet those needs”.

“It’s important to keep up with technology too, as well as the newest trends in our industry, in order to continually give excellent customer service to both our clients and their guests.  As always, we work hard, and are diligent  in our vision and values. It’s essential to recognize when an outside resource can do something better and faster and offer new ideas and approaches based on their experience; we basically know when to “get out of our own way”. Montoya says.

Besides all of the joy we obviously receive from our faith, our five children, family and friends, we also feel blessed that what we do at The Bella Sera provides meaning and purpose in our lives. People who love their careers, as we do, often spend extra time making sure they are doing their best work. This is why we enjoy attending great conferences like The Wedding MBA. It makes sense that more quality goods and better service are given to customers, if the people giving that service love their job and are well-educated and have expertise in their field. We feel confident in our abilities to deliver this year after year.

Some of our favorite MBA Sessions we attended included presentations by experts from The Knot, WeddingWire, Mywedding.com and Martha Stewart Weddings, as well as the following  break out sessions:

  • Getting Your Business Into Focus
  • Create Magic In Your Own Business
  • Dramatic Floral Demonstration
  • Renée Strauss from  TLC /Slice Network reality show “Brides of Beverly Hills”…she was adorable and amazing!

2014 marks the 10th Anniversary of The Bella Sera Event Center, and John, Elisabeth and their incredible team look forward to taking all of their knowledge and expertise to a new level in the next decade to come.

Please give us a call and discover how the Bella Sera can help you have the perfect wedding!

 

Wedding Cake Traditions

The Wedding Cake is the one menu item your guests can’t wait to taste!

Classic Elegant White Wedding Cake with Red Roses at Bella Sera

Besides the tradition and symbolism of the bride and groom cutting the wedding cake, there’s also the important details to decide such as the design and shape of the cake, the flavors, and which of the Top 20 Songs to play for the cake cutting ceremony. Hopefully you’ll gather some good tips from this post.

At Bella Sera our design team believes the wedding cake is the main focal point and centerpiece of the reception. The wedding cake is said to be only outclassed by the beauty of the bride. So true! It is always prominently and beautifully displayed in our ballroom with gorgeous linens, candles and embellishments, and unique backdrops that compliment the design of each custom designed wedding cake.

Just look at these beautiful wedding cakes and how each one is an expression of the personalities and design style of our brides and grooms; from the colors, design, cake tiers, frosting, flavors, cake toppers, and of course, the cake bases and table décor. It’s no wonder why everyone waits anxiously to indulge in this decadent dessert.

A Gorgeous Wedding Cake Backdrop at Bella Sera

Gone Fishing Wedding Cake Topper at Bella Sera

 

Ball and Chain Cake Topper at Bella Sera

 

Shabby Chic wedding cake at Bella Sera

So what does the cake cutting tradition represent?

The cake cutting tradition dates back many, many years. However, the modern cake-cutting ceremony signifies the first joint task that the bride and groom perform together as husband and wife. This tradition is very special and is one that is practiced at nearly every wedding you will attend. The bride with the “help” of the groom cuts the first piece of cake. The Groom feeds the bride first and she feeds him second. The tradition of feeding the cake to each other signifies a commitment to take care of one’s partner and provide the sustenance the other person needs in the marriage. Neither partner touches the other during the feeding. By not touching each other during the feeding, each person pledges to perform their tasks unaided.

Cakes, as well as bread have always been part of the celebration of a marriage. The ancient Romans considered bread to be a symbol of fertility. Some believe that a couple was not considered married until they had broke the bread and eaten it together.

The cake is also the last thing that guests eat, which leaves a definite lasting impression. Since it is the last formal ceremony of the wedding, etiquette states that guests may leave after the cake cutting. This is why you will see many grandparents or elderly guests leave a reception after they have had cake and coffee.

Wedding cake designs can be elegant and extravagant, artistic, or just downright fun.

Gorgeous Asian Fusion Wedding Cake at Bella Sera

Elegant Red Roses on Wedding Cake at Bella Sera

 

Ice Cake Stand with Denver Bronco Grooms Cake at Bella Sera

 

Doctor Who Tardis Police Box Wedding Cake at Bella Sera

 

A Stunning Wedding Cake Backdrop at Bella Sera

 

Artistic Black, White and Fuschia Wedding Cake at Bella Sera

What’s your favorite flavor?

  • Café Latte Cake
  • Classic Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Decadent Chocolate
  • Hazelnut Praline 
  • Italian Rum 
  • Lemon Cake with Lemon Butter Cream Frosting
  • Old Fashioned Carrot Cake
  • Pink Champagne Cake with Raspberry Mousse Filling
  • Pink Strawberry Swirl Cake
  • Spice Cake with Caramel Buttercream Frosting
  • Tres Leches Cake

From decadent fillings to extraordinary design and cake table décor, your wedding cake can easily become something that guests will brag about for a very long time.

Winter Wonderland Themed Wedding Cakes 

Winter Wedding Cake 6 Tier at Bella Sera

 

Winter Wedding Cake at Bella Sera

 

Winter Wedding Cake with adorable Polar Bear Topper at Bella Sera

 

Winter 4 Tier Wedding Cake at Bella Sera

 

To create the perfect mood for the cake cutting ceremony, you’ll want to be sure to pick the perfect song to top it all off. You’re sure to find one from this list of  “The Top 20 Wedding Cake Cutting Songs”: 

  1. Ain’t That A Kick In The Head – Dean Martin

  2. Be Our Guest – Beauty and the Beast

  3. Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations

  4. Chapel Of Love – The Dixie Cups
  5. Candy Man – Christina Aguilera
  6. Cut The Cake
 – Average White Band
  7. Eat it – Weird Al Yankovic
  8. Happy Together – The Turtles

  9. Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar
  10. How Sweet It Is
- James Taylor
  11. I Do (Cherish You) – 98 Degrees

  12. I Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher

  13. It’s Your Love  – Faith Hill & Tim McGraw
  14. Love And Marriage
 – Frank Sinatra
  15. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
  16. Recipe For Love
 – Harry Connick Jr.
  17. Sugar, Sugar – The Archies
  18. That’s Amore
- Dean Martin
  19. The Sweetest Thing – U2

  20. This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole


So now that you know the reason for the cake cutting ceremony, don’t forget to share it with your fiancé. Your guests will also enjoy learning about the reason behind the cake cutting, so ask your DJ to make a short introduction before you cut the cake explaining the symbolism behind the tradition. When shopping for inspirations on design, colors, tiers, flavors and decor embellishments, it’s best to choose a baker who has been in the wedding business for several years to ensure the design is perfect, the flavor is amazing, and that there is plenty of cake for all of your guests. Have fun with the whole experience, and don’t make your cake an after thought or last minute decision.

If you enjoyed these tips, be sure to share this post with a friend.

 

Elisabeth Montoya

Designer and co-owner of The Bella Sera Event Center

 

 

 

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