A few people who are coming as part of a group have asked if it's possible to reserve a table so that they can sit as a group for the meal. In the past I've resisted this as it's a bit of a headache to both organise and manage - and the system of semi-organised chaos has always seemed to work where we just suggest areas for different year groups.
I am certainly not going to have a seating plan for the entire event as that would probably be too much for everyone and you always end up bumping into someone who you used to know well and hadn't realised would be there and then you can't adapt to be able to sit with them. I also want to make sure that we cater for those who do not come as part of a large group by enabling them to sit on a table with others that they have some common interests with.
However, what I'm thinking of doing is making it a bit easier for those who are there as a group to sit together or at least close to eachother.
For the meal the tables are mostly arranged so that there is a group of 10 people on each table. If you squish up a bit you can probably get an extra couple on a table (though you'd need to swipe some chairs and cutlery from an adjacent table).
So, if you are a group of 10 or more then I will try to arrange to set aside a table for you (no promises as there are sometimes factors that interfere with the best laid plans at the last minute). If you are a group of 20 or more then I will set aside two adjacent tables etc.
This will be available to 'reserve' up to half the available tables and (unless you are a single group filling two or more tables) then adjacent tables will not be reserved or reservable. These tables will then be available as overflow space for groups too big for one table but not big enough for two and for smaller groups or individuals. I'll still suggest year groups to sit in a particular area as this will make it more likely that you'll be sitting near people you will have something in common with - but these will be no more than suggestions.
Inevitably it will not work perfectly but I do want to retain as much flexibility on the night as possible and avoid it becoming too regimented while still trying to make it easier for groups of friends to sit together.
If someone has a better plan then please let me know.