Dear Emily Blog

The Case for Place Cards: Rejection vs. TLC

peacock placecard

If you’re old enough to be planning a wedding, then it’s probably been a while since you were in the middle school cafeteria, where there were people who would be glad to sit with you, people who would never sit with you and people who might sit with you, depending. Revisiting this stark reminder of where others think one stands in the world is what you may be asking your guests to do if you assign them to a table but not a place. Observe this scene:
A lovely hotel ballroom, decorated with beautiful flowers and linen, the site of John and Clothilde’s wedding reception. At Table 9, only two people are currently seated–Bjorn, John’s dearest water-cooler buddy, and his girlfriend, Consuelo. Another couple approaches. They are Agnes, Clothilde’s longtime pal from her knitting group, and her husband, Brice.

What’s going to happen now?

Worst case (and all too common, unfortunately): Agnes and Brice take one look at Bjorn and  Consuelo, decide that they’ll have better luck with whatever random people come along  and sit down a seat or two away from Bjorn and Consuelo, or possibly opposite them, leaving Bjorn and Consuelo to wonder what it was about them that was deemed less than desirable.

Very good case: Agnes and Brice greet Bjorn and Consuelo, introduce themselves, exchange particulars on how they each know the happy couple and proceed to do their best to have an enjoyable time with their newfound dinner companions as well as the people who will soon be sitting on either side of them.

If your friends can be relied upon to behave with such good grace, especially in the service of increasing the happiness of your day, you can count yourself blessed and take pride in your ability to befriend such fine people.  Nevertheless, consider  . . .

The best possible case: Bjorn, Consuelo, Brice and Agnes arrive in whatever order at Table 9, know exactly where to sit and don’t have to worry about experiencing rejection or calculating what seating will prove better or worse. Soon to join them are Paul and Georgia, also Josie and Britt.  Before the main course is served, Josie finds out that she and Agnes are both school social workers; Bjorn learns that Britt, as he did, grew up in Sweden; Consuelo and Paul are chatting about twins (she was one, he’s raising them), etc., and all because John and Clothilde put the effort into considering who would most enjoy the company of whom.  In other words, they employed the strategy of a dinner for eight on a grander scale and they made it happen with place cards, knowing that they couldn’t possibly find the time on their wedding day to communicate to one guest and another what they would surely enjoy about meeting someone else.

This is hospitality at its height.

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