6 Things Party Planners Wish Every Guest Knew

Emily Post would agree.

<p>Laurey W. Glenn</p>

Laurey W. Glenn

Event etiquette can be tricky, and there are a lot of best practices to keep track of. Some, like saying “best wishes” instead of “congratulations” to a bride, may feel unnecessary today. Others are significant but not essential, such as following the communicated gift registry. Then there are the rules that can make or break the flow and success of an event—which is exactly what we asked two of the South’s best party planners to spill the tea on.



Meet The Experts



Seating Arrangements Matter

Moving your place card may seem like no big deal, but it actually can be, creating a significant domino effect. “When guests move seats, this significantly impacts the flow of service for the event, putting extra pressure on the team to locate guests and confirm they receive their requested meal,” explains Cassie LaMere, founder and creative director of her namesake events firm in Austin, Texas. “For guests with allergies and special diets, this is an extremely important responsibility for the event team and something that we do not take lightly.”

LaMere also points out that even if the event you’re attending is less formal, “a lot of work has gone into thoughtfully designing the seating chart to ensure guests feel comfortable and conversation is easily facilitated.” While you may prefer to sit somewhere else, trust the party planner—and remember that your decision impacts others.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

Chargers Aren’t For Food

“Oftentimes, we will have a fully set table with a charger plate,” Dori Waller, founder of The Social Office in Nashville, Tennessee, says. “This is decorative only and not meant to have food served on it.” It makes sense that every plate on a table would be functional, so don’t feel embarrassed. But if you see a pretty, larger-than-dinner-sized plate at your seat? Resist the urge to take it to the buffet.

They Want You To Enjoy

Events can take months, sometime even years, of work to plan, La Mere emphasizes: “It’s our job to make things look easy and seamless, but behind the scenes, there’s a very layered ecosystem that’s been orchestrated and choreographed down to every minute detail to create a frictionless experience for guests.”

Planners and their vendors go above and beyond to make sure everyone’s going to have the most exceptional experience, and they all want you to savor every moment.

Invites Have Limits

When you receive an invite to an event (especially a wedding), it’s critical that you pay attention to how the envelope is addressed. Is it just to you, to you and a guest, or to you and the entire family? “You wouldn’t believe how often we send an invitation to one person, and they reply with an added guest—or child—that was not intended,” Waller says. “This is often a numbers decision due to constraints of the venue, so please be respectful.” Doing your due diligence in advance will also save you from an awkward conversation with the host later on.

Related: RSVP Etiquette: How To Respond To Any Invitation

Deadlines Are Important

RSVP deadlines are in place for a reason, and as LaMere points out, it’s not a coincidence that s’il vous plait (please) is a part of the acronym. When you don’t tell them whether or not you can attend on time, planners are unable to confirm the catering, event layout, seating chart, gift quantity, staffing, and more.

“We never want to run out of food or drinks, or have you arrive without a place set at the table for you, but we also don’t want to waste resources,” explains LaMere. “There’s a lot of followup that has to take place when guests don’t respond by the deadline.”

Related: What To Do When Guests Don't RSVP, According To Etiquette

Events Have Timelines

“When you hear a bell, a host, or at larger events, an emcee, asking guests to take your seat for dinner, please do so promptly,” Waller says. “One of our hardest jobs during an event is getting everyone to their seats in a timely fashion, as there are several things that depend on it.” The most important? Your food. If guests are seated promptly, the kitchen doesn’t have to struggle with overcooking or items becoming cold, as everything is timed perfectly.

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