How much thought have you put into your wedding seating arrangements?
If you’re having a small wedding and reception, you’ll have an easier go at planning (and can probably wing it when it comes to assigning spots). Once your guest list grows to more than 50 people, though, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by determining your seating arrangements ahead of time, because:
- People usually feel more comfortable knowing where to go in advance.
- With guests heading where you tell them, the reception can “flow” more easily.
- In scenarios where two or more guests don’t get along, assigned seats allow you to keep them separated.
- Seating charts allow you to fill your reception tables to their max.
- If you’re using a catering service, assigned seats help the staff do their job of serving food and help cut down on potential food mishaps.
Creating a reception seating chart is the best way to tackle your guest arrangements, but there’s one catch: any seating choices you make will be near the end (and busiest stretch) of your wedding planning phases.
Once your guests return long-awaited RSVPs, you might find yourself scrambling to get things done. With the right perspective (and a bit of know-how), it can be more enjoyable than it is stressful!
1. Start Preparing for Your Wedding Seating Chart Immediately
Holding off on deciding your seating arrangements can cause unnecessary complications, so we recommend getting it done two months ahead of the wedding.
As we mentioned before, you won’t be able to make definitive seating arrangements until you know who will attend your wedding. Set yourself up for success by including an RSVP-by date on your wedding invitations – this will give you plenty of time to plan.
Make it easy for your prospective guests to respond (by email, text, or even social media) so you get those replies quickly, and, if push comes to shove, prompt your guests for an answer:
“The best you can do is to check in with them. With a focus on your excitement at seeing them (rather than number-crunching), ask if they think they’ll be able to make it. You might get answers more quickly this way.”
The earlier you can get those responses, the better. Only with your guest list in hand can you begin the hard work of finalizing your wedding seating!
2. Make It a Team Effort
Who should handle your reception seating chart? We can say with confidence that it should be a team effort with your better half.
In addition to easing the burden by pooling your knowledge, collaborating with your partner provides a way for you both to bond and relive some cherished memories from times past.
Beyond that, though, the fun you’ll have working as a team will help you complete the job much faster than trying to take it on solo.
3. Think About Your Table Shapes
Round tables, square tables, rectangular tables — there’s no shortage of shapes to choose from! The dimensions of your tables might not seem like a big deal, at first, but determining the shape and size will dictate how many guests you can seat comfortably. This affects how you’ll have to plan your seating arrangements, so it’s an important factor to keep in mind.
If you get to choose which kind of tables you’ll be using during your reception, base your decision on the potential benefits and drawbacks.
- Round tables will provide a classic look and give your guests plenty of legroom (if you don’t overload them with too many chairs).
- Squares and rectangles might make it easier to fit more tables into your venue (and more guests).
Be sure you know you know which table type (and how many of them) you’ll be using before you start your chart.
4. Use Tables to Group Your Guests
It might not be polite to put people into groups under normal circumstances, but for the purposes of making seating assignments at weddings, it’s one of the best things you can do. By and large, you’ll want to break your guests up into the following categories:
- The Wedding Party
- Bride/Groom’s Family
- Friend Groups
- Everyone Else
Use those groupings as the building blocks of your table seating chart. You don’t have to follow them to the letter, but thinking in these terms will help you visualize which of your guests will feel comfortable with one another, and ease you into your decision making process. An easy rule of thumb to remember: group close friends together and keep potential rivals far apart!
5. Make Assigned Seating Clear to Your Guests
Much like your carefully-worded wedding invitations, your wedding table seating arrangements should be straightforward and easy to comprehend. If your guests arrive and don’t understand where you want them to go, then what was the point of all your planning?
You can make things crystal clear by posting your seating chart near the entrance of your reception venue. Make sure to display seating information alphabetically or table-by-table for clarity, and mark your tables so that your guests can locate their assigned area with ease.
6. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Deciding on your wedding table assignments is only a bear if you allow it to be. Keep things simple, and you’ll keep the stress to a minimum. Start by obtaining a copy of your reception venue’s floor plan, then determine if you’re starting with paper or digital for your chart.
If you’re old-school and prefer a pen and some paper, grab some giant index cards and some slim sticky notes. Have each card represent a table, then write guests’ names on the sticky notes. Place those guests in arrangements that make sense and rearrange them until you get them just right. Once you’re happy with where everyone will be seated, share the list with your caterer.
If you’re not too fond of writing things by hand, and prefers to keep things digital, you should check out one of the many free wedding reception seating chart templates and programs out there. These will allow you to craft floor plans and seating arrangements from the comfort of your computer in a format that’s ready to share with others.
With that, you should have a firm grasp on how to make a wedding seating chart. Just because it can be a tricky process doesn’t mean it has to be. Give yourself the time you need to get started, lean on your partner for support, and keep our tips in mind so that your chart planning goes as smoothly as possible!
Once your wedding seating chart is finalized, why not take a look at our Quintessential Guide to Wedding Calligraphy and turn your table placement cards into a work of art! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for your daily dose of wedding inspo!