Do you need a seating chart? If you have a small, informal reception, you may not feel you need a plan. However, for larger numbers, or a sit down meal, both you and your guests may benefit from a seating chart. Guests are saved from a mad panic of trying to find a seat at a table with their friends/family, and you can place people where they’ll be happiest!
Do you need a seating chart? If you have a small, informal reception, you may not feel you need a plan. However, for larger numbers, or a sit down meal, both you and your guests may benefit from a seating chart. Guests are saved from a mad panic of trying to find a seat at a table with their friends/family, and you can place people where they’ll be happiest! The wedding meal may last for 2-3 hours. It is a significant part of the day. If your guests are sitting with people they get along with, it will make a big difference to their overall enjoyment of the day!
There are a number of options for the seating plan:
- No plan at all – best for stand up buffets or small and informal events.
- Assign guests to tables – you allocate guests to tables but they choose their own seat.
- Assign guests to seats – you specify the seats at which each guest will sit.
Just remember one thing. . . do what you think would make you and your guests most comfortable!
The Head Table Dilemma
While the traditional head table (Bride and Groom seated at a long table flanked by the wedding party) is still favored by most, alternatives are often being used. The traditional layout is as follows:
Groomsman - Bridesmaid - Best Man - Bride – Groom – Maid of Honor – Groomsman - Bridesmaid
There are alternative arrangements – such as including parents/godparents or clergy at the table. You may want to include partners of the bridal party at the table, or you may want to avoid the top table altogether and have a romantic table for two!
Top Tips for Other Tables
1. Seating tables with just one family group will let them relax, but won’t do much to encourage mingling. However, a table where no one knows anyone else might be a bit daunting for most people! Try and arrange a mix on each table – so everyone knows a few people. By thinking about guests’ ages and interests you can make sure that each table is likely to get along and have fun!
2. Where to sit singles can also create a dilemma. On one hand you might want to try out a little matchmaking, but on the other, this could be rather uncomfortable and awkward for your guests (it might be very obvious too!). Certainly avoid a ‘singles’ table but generally do whatever you feel is best for your guests.
3. If you are using round tables, the general etiquette is to seat males and females alternately around the table. If you are using long tables, seat couples opposite one another and then alternate male/females along the table.
4. The tables closest to the Bride and Groom should be reserved for the closest friends and family.
5. Give each table a name or number. Table names could be themed - for example people, objects or places that are relevant to you as a couple. Names also remove the perceived hierarchy of tables. You should create a name card for each table (your venue may do this for you) so that guests can easily find their table.
6. If you are assigning guests to specific seats you should create name place cards. These could also show menu choices (if you are offering them) or indicate vegetarians. The wait staff will really appreciate this and it will allow them to give a more seamless service. You should also give a paper copy of your plan to the venue so that they can see where people are seated.
Creating the Chart
Start arranging your seating plan early. You can start doing this before all your RSVP's have been received. You know that most of your close friends and family wiill most likely be attending, even if they haven’t formally replied yet.
To begin creating your arrangement, get a general idea from your venue how the tables will be arranged in the room. Determine whether you’ll be using round or long tables or a mixture of both, and work out how many people you can sit at each table.
Arranging the chart can take a long time and might involve numerous revisions. Many people cut up pieces of paper for each guest and table and use these to try out different layouts. Thankfully, over the last few years software (web-based, for download or even Excel spreadsheets) has become available to make the task simpler. Leading up to the big day, this will not only save hours of your time, but will also reduce the stress, by simplifying last minute changes!