Seat charts and seat plans are not exactly mandatory for a wedding.
If given the chance, couples would simply give their wedding guests free rein in deciding where to seat themselves. Unfortunately, allowing your wedding guests that much liberty and leverage on deciding where to seat themselves can be potentially chaotic. True, planning a seat chart might not exactly rank very high on your wedding plan to-do list, but ensuring it is given proper attention is paramount. Seat charts have a notorious reputation for being one of the knottiest wedding tasks to do before your big day. More often than not, most couples leave seat chart planning until a few weeks before their wedding day (with some even going as far to coming up with a seat plan before the day itself). Understandably, planning where to seat where your wedding guests may not exactly be the most riveting task on your wedding to-do list and at times, conversations about it can get rather difficult. But having a seat plan ensures that come reception time, your guests will have a sense of cohesion in terms of finding their place. In this regard, no one would be squabbling about who gets to sit where and who gets to sit with whom as everything is already pre-planned.
Having a wedding seat chart simplifies things and ensures that each table at your reception hall will be filled to max capacity. Without assigned seating–especially for plated dinner services–things can get confusing for the staff quickly. For this reason, most reception venues would require couples to have assigned reception seating. Indeed, deciding where to situate your guests on seating arrangements can be a little overwhelming at first. You ask yourself questions, “Who gets along with who?” and the like and decide whether the group of people in a particular table will be a good fit.
However, once you get the hang of it, you will find that it can actually be quite fun. To get you started, below is a list of indispensable tips in planning your wedding seating chart.
Before you jump right into the task of planning a seat chart, you need to decide what kind of tables you want to have for your reception hall. Typically, the size and shape of your tables will dictate how many guests can be seated at each one.
Table shapes will also determine how many tables you can have at your reception hall. Generally, you have four options: round, square, rectangle and oval.
These different table shapes come with their own benefits: Round tables are the traditional option and affords your guests more room. Rectangular tables, however, can fit a greater seated capacity into a space and makes it easier for guests to talk across them.
More often than not, all of the parents will share a table at the reception along with grandparents and any siblings that are not included in the entourage. In this way, they are given the opportunity to bond and get to know each other better on your special day.
However, certain issues such as separated or divorced parents can make things a little complicated. Unless your separated parents are cordial with each other, consider seating them at two separate tables that are equally as close to the head table.
In this regard, no one feels left out nor uncomfortable. However, if you are using rectangular tables, you can seat them in the same table but at opposite ends (and make sure that the table is long).
A dedicated table for your wedding party is an excellent way to acknowledge their special role in your wedding. More importantly, it ensures that you are surrounded by your best friends during the reception.
If you have the room, have a table for your close friends and their dates. Seat them together with another group of other mutual friends and ensure that they are seated at the third-best table in the room.
The best table is for you and your partner, the second-best for your parents and the third nearest table is for your wedding party or your friends. Be sure to situate the third-best table near the dance floor and the mobile bar.
After you have finalized your guest list and have the initial RSVPs, begin by grouping guests according to how you know them. Classify them into groups such as: family members, high school friends, post graduate friends, work friends, etc.
However, this does not mean that you are limited to seating them according to group, but at least now, you have a clearer picture of who already knows each other and gets along. Aside from grouping your guests by how you know them, you might want to consider their age, interests and backgrounds.
Make everyone comfortable by offering a mix of new and familiar faces at each table. However, bear in mind not to seat people with bad history in one table together.
In lieu of having a dedicated table for all the singles coming to your wedding, take this as an opportunity to discreetly set up two people by seating them next to each other.
Having a separate singles table can be embarrassing for your guests and seating unmarried guests at a table full of married couples might be a little insensitive. Use sound judgment and take your guests’ feelings when deciding where to designate them.
If several children are attending your wedding, an excellent strategy is to seat them together at a separate kids’ table where you can have engaging activities or crafts to keep them occupied.
However, while it might be tempting to put all the babies in one corner of the room, you cannot put the table too far from where their parents are sitting. Younger children might get anxious if they do not see their parents anywhere (and vice versa).
However, if you only have a few kids present at your wedding, opt to seat them together with their parents.
After a while, it can get rather easy to get caught up in deciding who sits where.
However, do not forget to give your VIPs the best seats in the house so that they have a clear view of the stage and can easily join in the celebration. Your older wedding guests might want to be a little further from the band and the speakers.
Guests in wheelchairs might need to be seated in tables that are either closer to the dance floor or to one of the edges of the room as they will have plenty of space to maneuver as needed.
Couples who wish to have a more tactile wedding chart can use one or more poster boards to create a physical layout that you can modify as you wish until such time that you have found the best mix.
After you decide on the type of tables you want and where they will be located, consider the dimensions of your venue and put them on the poster board.
PRO TIP: Save yourself from having to do over things and keep things neat by opting to write your guests’ names on Post-Its. Simply stick (and un-stick) them in different seating arrangements. Alternatively, you may want to use dry erase markers and a large white board to save up on supplies.
Plenty of websites offer features and services that make it easy to design a seating chart online. As a bonus, some of these sites even have a drag and drop seating option making it so simple to arrange and rearrange to your heart’s content.
You can also customize templates and try out various table options. Some of these websites even come with layouts for bar locations and other additional seating areas to get an almost accurate sense of how the space will flow.
If neither of the two options preceding before this item works for you, you may want to consider assigning tables without specific seats instead. In this regard, your guests will still have direction but are free to make their own choices as to who to sit next to. They would be then free to make their own choices and would not be scrambling for their seats as you make your entrance.
However, keep in mind that when you are grouping people together, make sure everyone has someone to talk to and will have a good time. Similarly, ensure that everyone is comfortable with where they are seated so that they can enjoy your wedding and even join in the revelry. If you decide not to assign seats and designate tables only, ALWAYS make sure that your elderly guests have a designated place to sit down.
With the expert tips enumerated above, it will be easy to design a wedding seat plan for your guests in no time. While it might not exactly be a quick task to accomplish, ensuring that you have a seat plan, even if it is just table assignments, will ensure that your reception flows much more smoothly. So, while you have the time, begin working on that seating chart.