Miss Manners Is the Smartest Lady on Earth

June 27, 2006 psipsina

During an e-mailed discussion of seating arrangements for the wedding, E. asked:

I don’t suppose we could just pick out our own seats?  Is that not “done”?

My reply, edited slightly for grammar and style:

Nope, no picking one’s own seats.  It’s Not Done, and there’s a good reason.  Somebody always ends up looking lost because they are shy or they don’t know anyone or because someone doesn’t like them or they don’t like someone or they’re not very agressive or they can’t move very fast or the last available seat is next to someone who hurt their feelings back in 1980 or …

Look at it this way.  The Red-Haired Boy and I know where the speakers will be placed, and who doesn’t like loud music.  We know who is super friendly and who needs drawing out.  We know who, bless their hearts, can tolerate the intolerable for a couple of hours and who, damn their eyes, will never speak to us if they have to sit next to so-and-so for even a second.  We know who’s bringing children, who simply adores children, and who can’t stand them.  If there are two single people of the appropriate mutual orientations who might enjoy the opportunity to get to know each other (unlikely, but we haven’t analyzed the guest list), we know that too.   We know who’s a Democrat (most of our friends, and most of Mat’s family) and who’s not (most of my family).  We know who is easily offended and who is likely to insert a foot into his mouth.

None of the people coming to the wedding know as much about the other people coming to the wedding as we do.  So if we assign seats, contrary to all usual democratic notions of freedom of choice and so on, people are actually likely to have a better time than if there’s a mad free-for-all once the hors d’oeuvres are gone.   And since people aren’t strapped to their seats for the whole reception, if there is someone they particularly wish to speak with who is not seated at their table, they can get up after dinner and do so.

So, as usual, Miss Manners is pretty smart about all this stuff.

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Entry Filed under: guests, miss manners, seating, wedding

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