The dreaded wedding seating chart. This was one of my least favorite parts of wedding planning, because let’s face it – it’s not all that exciting. Between guests that don’t RSVP on time, to last minute cancelations it can be a realllllll headache. Don’t get me started on the people that RSVP and then don’t show. Oy vey! While assigned seating at a wedding certainly isn’t mandatory, most brides do create a wedding seating chart. At any kind of sit-down dinner, assigned seats tend to make things simpler. To begin with, it ensures each table will be filled to max capacity. Furthermore, for plated dinner service, things can get very confusing for the catering staff without it. I’m not going to lie and tell you that with my simple tricks it can be fun, but it will be easier and less overwhelming. Cheers to that!
Decide on Table Shapes
You probably have already determined this in the beginning stages of planning but if not, you need to have a game plan for your tables. The size of the venue will dictate how many tables you can fit, depending on what shape you use. When it comes to table shapes there are typically four basic options: round, rectangle, oval and square. Round tables are the most traditional option and give your guests the most amount of space and legroom. With rectangular tables, you can often fit more into a space and it’s easier for guests to talk across. After you decide on what tables you prefer, then you can start populating them with your guests.
Keep Your Friends Close
A head table full of your wedding party (and their dates if you’ve got the room!) is a great way to acknowledge their special role. If you opt for a Sweetheart table, having your wedding party host tables, instead. Seat them with their dates and a group of other mutual friends. They should be seated at the third-best tables in the room — the first is your sweetheart table, the second-best tables are for your parents and the third is your wedding party.
A Table for the Parents
Traditionally, both the bride and groom’s parents will share a table at the reception, along with grandparents and siblings. This gives the parents another chance to get to know each other a little more. If both parties have large families and everyone won’t fit at one table it is fine to do two separate tables. Place each table in a prime spot so both parties feel special. This is also the case with divorced parents. If things are tense, be sensitive. That way, no one feels uncomfortable or left out.
Enlist Your Parents’ Help to Seat Their Friends
If you have no idea where to seat your parents’ friends, let your mother and mother-in-law arrange those tables. Chances are, they will thrilled to be involved. It’s one less group you have to arrange, so consider it a blessing!
Categorize Guests by Groups
Hopefully you now have a finalized list of who’s coming, which means you can start putting people into groups. There will always be a few RSVP stragglers so don’t despair. Group guests by how you know them: family members, high school friends, college friends, work friends, etc. Consider your guests ages, interests and backgrounds. The key is to make people feel comfortable! Of course, be tactful: avoid seating people together who have a history they wish they could forget.
Skip the Singles Table
If you’ve been dying to fix your old high school buddy up with your cousin, you might take this opportunity to discreetly seat them next to each other. But resist the urge to create a separate “singles” table, which might embarrass your guests.
Keep the Floor Plan in Mind
Give your VIP guests the best seats in the house, so they have a clear view of all the action.Older guest may want to be a little further from the band (and not near a speaker) so it isn’t too loud. Seat younger guests who will be on the dance floor all night near the band so they can really boogie!
Make a Digital Seating Chart
Your wedding planner will probably help with this, but if not you can do it yourself fairly easily. Sites like WeddingWire, AllSeated and Wedding Mapper make it very simple. These sites have drag n’ drop seating options, which makes it so simple to arrange and rearrange to your heart’s content. You also customize the templates and try out different table options.
Create a Physical Seating Chart
If you’re someone who wants to make a wedding seating chart on paper, you can use a giant poster board and Post-it’s to create a physical chart. Sketch out where you’ll put your tables and then to save yourself a lot of time erasing, keep things organized by writing each guests name on a Post-it. Then, you can simply stick and un-stick guests in different seating arrangements. Make it extra fun by using poster board and Post-it’s in your wedding colors!
Remember, it’s almost impossible to not have one or two tables where guests won’t know each other. Due to late RSVP’s or a couple you know that won’t know anyone its bound to happen. Don’t fret. Remember, they won’t be sitting at the table long, and everyone does have one thing in common – they know you, the couple. And that is the reason they are there – to celebrate you!