When I first started out as a wedding planner, I saw it all the time and to this day, I understand why it is done, but I do not understand why, with all the options available to manage a budget, couples want to aggravate guests, create a clumsy flow and above all: not actually save that much money in the long run (read on). We are talking about the use of the same chairs for the ceremony as the reception. There are other ways to maximize your spending plan (budget) than re-using your ceremony chairs for your reception. I never, ever recommend this be done, and here are my top reasons why:
- Clumsy and awkward for the guest experience: it is a nightmare for banquet/catering staff to have to go in between guests who are adjourning (or sharing the same cocktail area as the ceremony area) and make their way to the dining tables to place the chairs. Often, the dinner area is so close to the ceremony/cocktail area, guests have already made their way to their table to put their purse or coat down at their placesetting and it is a clumsy, awkward and uncomfortable experience for guest and service provider. Plus, it provides what I call “visual static”, seeing catering staff carrying two or three chairs at a time and make their way into the next event area in what would otherwise be a beautiful setting. It distracts from the beauty.
- Shouts loudly “budget wedding”: There is nothing wrong with extremely limited funds for a wedding and there is no shame in having to make choices with your wedding funds; but sacrificing on a quality guest experience and overall smooth-running event should not be the way to do it, and one does not need to announce loudly to their guests this is a budget wedding. An experienced and professional wedding planner can offer you other areas to trim your budget and still maintain the integrity and confidentiality that you have limited funds for your wedding. Even budget-friendly weddings deserve the dignity of a smooth and gracious experience.
- Staffing issues that affect your pricing in labor and overtime: in the end, you will not save that much money. Here’s why: the extra staff your caterer may have to bring in to help transfer all those ceremony chairs (depending on your guest count) through the guests, cocktail hour and dining area sometimes more than makes up for the small amount of money you saved on the rental order by not ordering two sets of chairs. And conversely, if your caterer did not contract additional labor to transport the re-use of ceremony chairs, they may take extra long , due to limited staffing, affecting guests being able to be seated in time, affecting the entire timeline as a domino affect, and pushing other event services into overtime.
Overall, it is far better to invest in two separate sets of chairs for the ceremony, and reception (and even were applicable, cocktail hour, for a third set of chairs) and allow your professional planner to show you other choices you can make with your spending plan that do not sacrifice guest comfort as well as protect the dignity of your most special day.