A seating chart makes your wedding easier for:
– your guests (They can quickly find their way to the table or seat you pre-selected for them without worrying about who will/will not fit at a table together, and without feeling like they’re in a high school cafeteria.)
– the staff at your wedding venue (If there is a served dinner, and especially if there are multiple entree options, they will use your seating chart to determine how many of each dish will go to a table, and ensure a fluid, smooth delivery of the main meal, giving you more time to dance and party!)
– your wedding party and parents (who will likely enter the reception space last- before you two- and will want to know exactly where to go)
– guests with young children and special needs/dietary restrictions
– YOU! The day of your wedding, you don’t want to be worrying about seating, who is/is not sitting with whom, why there aren’t enough chairs at one table for everyone who wants to sit there, etc. Your seating chart will make everything easy, and assure that everyone will have a pleasant experience, from seating to greeting to eating and beyond!
There are many ways to create a seating chart and many tools online with which you can play, but the best plan of action is to create a little note card or post-it note for each guest (you should know the names of all Plus Ones and they should technically get their own cards, too) and arrange them in ‘tables’. Don’t do this too soon- you don’t want to get too set on one arrangement and then be bummed when you have to change it. Find out when your seating chart is due to your venue (typically 10 days in advance), ask guests to RSVP by a date that falls 1-2 weeks BEFORE that date, and create your seating chart once you have all responses.
Here are some seating chart tips:
Typically, one side is devoted to the bride’s family and the other is for the groom’s family. The wedding party and parents’ tables are closest to the bride and groom, then family, then friends. The sweetheart table/head table should be in the middle of the seating chart plan, so nobody feels like they’re in the ‘cheap seats’ and are too far from you on your big day.
Wedding Party seating considerations:
You can have a sweetheart table for just the bride and groom, putting your favorite guys and gals together at a table or two nearby (consider allowing them to sit with their significant others- simply because it’ll be more fun for them that way, and because they’re important to you)!
You could also do a head table with the bride, groom, and wedding party (or bride, groom, wedding party, and significant others, if the wedding party is small!).
The wedding party should be in a place where they can see (and be seen by) as many guests as possible. Whatever you choose is good, just communicate it to your party so they know where they’ll be going!
Your venue may help you figure this out, but if you’re setting up the room yourself, you should leave about 60″ between tables on all sides to allow guests and staff members to get through once guests are seated for the meal.
Some brides and grooms like to name their tables after places that are special to them, or favorite __’s (fill in the blank). This is a really nice idea in theory, but can be very confusing. If you do this, you should either use a table number in collaboration with the name or you should provide a seating chart for your guests to check before they go into the reception venue so they know where to find their table.
Try to make guests feel comfortable by offering a mix of familiar and new faces at a table. It’s nice to meet new people, but guests will be most comfortable around people they already know. Generally, putting families together, coworkers together, college (and/or high school) friends together, etc. goes a long way.
When your seating game is at a standstill, you can use your seating chart powers to introduce people with similar interests, backgrounds, etc. Try and sort based on the guests’ relationship to you and your betrothed, and place similar connections together.
If your parents are divorced/remarried, you can have a table where each parent heads and is surrounded by their own posse. It’s okay to have multiple parent tables on each side, and is not uncommon. If they do not get along, consider placing one parent at the top of that side of the room, and the other at the bottom. If one parent is sitting at the bridal table (some brides and grooms sit with their parents for dinner), then all parents should be included.
Kids’ Seating Considerations: You can either place kids together at a kids’ table or seat them with parents. Up to you. If you do go with a kids’ table, try to place it close to at least a few of the parents or have someone assigned to supervise. Young children should be seated with parents even if there is a kids’ table in place. Consider asking your venue to substitute champagne for shirley temples for the kids, and they should already be removing wine glasses from children’s place settings. For more kiddie considerations, check out my Weddings and Kids…Yes, No, Maybe So post.
Try not to create an entire ‘singles’ table, a table of newlyweds with just a couple singletons, or a table of almost-alcoholics with your non-drinking, chill friend. Try not to place exes together, unless you know that it’s okay with both of them.
Elderly guests, disabled guests and pregnant guests may appreciate being close to the restrooms. Anyone with hearing difficulty will want to be in a place where they can see and hear speeches, but not too close to the music. If you know that a guest is pregnant (and okay sharing the news with her table) and champagne/wine will be served, perhaps you can request a shirley temple instead, and no wine glass. If a disabled guest does not need a chair because he/she has a wheelchair, you should inform the venue in advance.
Once you have your seating chart all figured all, you can go ahead and find a way to tell guests where they’ll be sitting. Whether you use a printed seating chart or escort/place cards is up to you, as long as they can read it and find their way to their tables. Place card post coming soon!