Throughout the wedding planning process, I dreaded the task of making the wedding seating chart for the reception. It’s a tricky thing. It’s can be a monotonous and time-consuming process, yet it’s one you can’t really complete until all of your RSVP’s have been returned a few weeks before the wedding. You can attempt a tentative seating chart earlier (like I did), but it’s definitely going to change when the no’s start rolling in.
Here are some tips to make this daunting process a little more manageable for you:
Start with the wedding party.
The head table is the traditional option, but more and more couples are opting for a sweetheart table. There are benefits to both, but you might consider letting the make-up of your wedding party dictate which way you go. If most of your party is married with children, they might prefer to sit with their families. A younger couple with mostly single friends? Go for the head table!
Seating the parents.
There are different options here as well. Some couples choose to sit with their parents. Some might choose to let each set of parents have their own table so they can sit with their immediate families. Others elect to put all the parents at one table together. This could be impacted if you have siblings who aren’t in the wedding party, or divorced parents who they’d prefer not to seat together.
Should you assign seating?
I’ve been to weddings with seating charts, and weddings with open seating. Overall I prefer seating charts and will always recommend couples go this route, especially if you’re having anything but a very small wedding. There are a few different reasons I dislike open seating.
- Open seating can be awkward as people look for their seat. People roam around, looking for an open seat or someone they know.
- Couples and families can be split up. There’s nothing worse than being the last couple to arrive at dinner, only to discover you can’t even sit with your spouse. Or to attend a wedding with a few small children, only to not find a table where you can sit with them.
- Important people without a seat. Without a seating chart, you run the risk that your grandma ends up sitting in the table furthest away. She probably isn’t going to be able to hear any speeches, or interact with her family!
Assigned seats versus tables?
Just because you’re creating a seating chart doesn’t mean you have to assign individual seat. In fact, it’s usually easier not to. Just assign what table people will be sitting at! This way people can sit next to whomever they want at their table, and you might be able to get away without place cards.
Keep in mind, some venues might require assigned seats with place cards to make it easier for their servers to deliver food.
Group together common groups.
One of the first things I did when I was starting our seating chart was to group people together by category: my family, Dave’s family, coworkers, friends, etc. I used these guidelines when seating people.
Enlist your parents.
Parents might be able to at least give some insight as to how best seat their family members. This will be especially important if there will be family members you don’t know well.
Everyone should be seating by at least one person they know. But for the rest of the table, consider the ages, personalities, etc of those sitting there. Try to group similar ages, maybe even personalities.
Creating the seating chart.
There are a few different ways to do this. These days there are tons of ways to do this online. Most wedding websites (The Knot, Wedding Wire) have their own seating chart software where you can input guest names and move them into seats.
I personally chose to go the old pen and paper route! I created a floor plan of our reception on a poster, and used paper to create the tables and people. I designated each group with a different color so it would be easier to group them together. The seating chart went light years faster than I thought it would (though I still have many changes to make!) I’m such a visual person, I prefer to physically have the layout in front of my to play with.
If you’re married or getting married, I would love to hear about your experience with the seating chart! Please leave a comment and tell me about it! If you aren’t married, what are some of your seating pet peeves when attending a wedding?
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