The Chair Conundrum

This is becoming a “thing” now, so I feel compelled to help on the education side of this…. conundrum.

In New Jersey, we are very spoiled with banquet halls that are all inclusive. For those of you reading this from outside the Jersey border, allow me to explain. New Jersey is the banquet capital of the country. In fact, there are 4 on the same street as my office. These banquet halls come complete with things you would think of like servers and bartenders and things you wouldn’t think of like chairs and floors. Yeah, floors.

New Jersey brides are spoiled because they don’t have to think about a large portion of what actually goes into a wedding day, because the banquet hall has it all covered under one roof. You pay a “per person” fee and you get your food, alcohol, plates to eat off of and glasses to drink from. You need a seat? They’ve got chairs!! Did you want your ceremony in the same location? No problem because they can most likely set that up too.

But what happens outside of these banquet halls? More and more of our New Jersey brides are turning their noses up at the thought of “cookie cutter” weddings and want something different like a farm, or a loft, or a penthouse in upper Manhattan. The idea of a “blank slate” is sexy and appealing because they can make it whatever they want. And our destination brides don’t even know what a banquet hall is.

Having a blank slate means bringing in everything and knowing what “everything” actually is. Thankfully, you’ve hired a planner (or are about to hire us, because, duh, why wouldn’t you?) and we know everything that you will need right down to the silverware. These weddings tend to be more expensive because they are essentially “ala carte” and you are paying for things individually. Your caterer might be charging you $150 per person, and that will include food but it may or may not include: chairs, tables, linens, alcohol, etc. Each caterer is different and since we like to keep the vendor list to a minimum, we prefer caterers that can provide the most. 

The chairs are the biggest issue we are seeing this year and a question that many of our couples ask us about. Inside the banquet halls, it’s easy to move chairs from the ceremony to the reception space during the cocktail hour. They have the resources and the man power to get this done in a very short amount of time (moving 300 chairs in 1 hour takes at least 20 people.) Typically, they are moving the chairs from room to room, which is easier than say across a field, down a hill or around the courtyard. The more chairs you have and the farther they have to go, the more people you will need to move them. You know what that means? More of this: $$$

Many of our brides wonder if they can save money by using the same chairs. After all, the chairs for the ceremony will be used for all of 30 minutes, but the reception chairs need to be available for 5-7 hours. Is it worth it to rent a separate set of a chairs? 

You bet it is.

Here’s the thing: the money you would save by using the same chairs, will be wasted on paying people to move them.

I know what you’re thinking (because this has happened): it can’t/won’t take that long.

Oh yes, it will. As much as we can advise our brides to not do this and to simply find a couple extra hundred dollars for more chairs, they don’t always listen. The result? A 2 hour long cocktail hour destroying the rest of the timeline for the day (that cake cutting just got pushed to midnight now AFTER your photographer is scheduled to leave), and finding other people to help move chairs…those people are probably supposed to be doing other things like pouring champagne, but now they are pulled to do something else. Which means when your guests finally do get to sit down, there’s no champagne on the table. 

Pretty picture right? It’s happened, it can happen to you and you should be very afraid of this happening. 

To make it worse, we recently saw an episode of “Four Weddings” where the couple had their friends carry their chairs from the ceremony to the reception area. Women in dresses carried their own chairs. Honey bunches of NO. What?! I couldn’t tweet about that fast enough.

The bottom line is this, outside of our fantastic Jersey banquet halls is a world of beautiful venues that offer nothing but a blank canvas. Your guests need a place to sit and it is far less expensive to rent a second set of chairs, than to hire people to move them. Again, don’t ask your guests to do it, because that’s just tacky. 

Two sets of chairs. That’s the answer. Problem solved. Ta-da.

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