A long list of tasks comes with wedding planning. You need to find and book a venue, hire a photographer, and much more. Once you’ve finished your guest list, it’s easy to move on to the next thing and overlook the seating arrangements as well.
Making a wedding seating chart can be complicated, but it’ll be much less stressful if it isn’t left to the last minute. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to the ultimate seating chart!
How To Plan a Wedding Seating Chart
When it comes to creating the ideal seating chart, be sure to start early. Once you’ve finalized your wedding guest list, the next step is to make the seating chart. This can seem like a daunting task, but if you follow a few basic steps, then it’ll be done in no time. You should be thinking about the space you have at your venue as well as the various groups of people who will be attending your reception. Take the following steps to create a wedding seating chart:
- Determine Table Size and Shape
- Consider Your Layout
- Seat the Happy Couple
- Seat the Parents
- Seat the Wedding Party
- Group Guests
- Assign Seats or Tables
- Use a Seating Chart Template
Determine Table Size and Shape
Before you start seating guests, figure out the size and shape of your tables. This will tell you how many people can fit at each table and how many tables you’ll need so that you can start creating groups.
Although round tables are more traditionally for weddings, rectangular tables are also great for guests to relax, chat, and enjoy their dinners. Whether you choose round or rectangular tables, don’t overseat your guests. It’s a much less pleasant experience if your guests are squished up against each other, so if you’re uncertain about how many people can fit at a table, err on the side of caution.
One of the first steps to creating your seating chart is to figure out how many guests you can fit at each table. With round tables, it can be tricky to determine how many people can fit at a table. Generally, at a 60 inch (5 feet) round table, you can seat anywhere from eight to ten guests. For a 5 foot rectangular table, about six guests can be seated.
Consider Your Layout
In addition to your completed wedding guest list, you should have your venue booked before you start creating your seating chart. Think about the venue’s layout and how much space you have for tables. You should also consider where the dance floor will be, where to place the band or DJ, buffet or dessert tables, and other vendors.
Seat the Happy Couple
When it comes to placing you and your guests around the room, decide where in the venue you want to sit first. A sweetheart table is a common option for the newlyweds. This table is just for you and your spouse, and it’s typically a rectangular table at a focal point in the room where the couple sits facing their guests. For some brides and grooms, a sweetheart table can be an intimate experience, but plenty of couples prefer sitting with their friends and family to share their special day.
Another option for the newlyweds is to sit at a head table, which include members of the wedding party and close family members. You can choose to sit with the maid of honor and best man, the entire wedding party, or your parents. Since this can get crowded quickly, ensure that the table can seat everyone. If not, it’s perfectly acceptable to split up the wedding party. At head tables, it’s traditional that the bride sits to the right of the groom, but feel free to break tradition and sit wherever makes you the most comfortable.
Seat the Parents
Where should you put your parents on the seating chart? Usually, the two sets of parents will sit with each other, along with grandparents and siblings. You can also seat your parents with members of their side of the family. If your table for immediate family gets too big, then it may be easier to split people up rather than to squeeze everyone at the same table.
The table with parents, close friends, and family members is typically closer to the sweetheart table. The best tables are the ones near you, since this day is about celebrating the happy couple! Your family and wedding party should be sitting near you, especially since they’ve been so involved in planning your special day.
Additionally, grandparents may prefer to sit a bit farther away from the dance floor or speakers blasting loud music. In most cases, a sweetheart table isn’t right next to the dance floor, so this is a good place to have your family seated.
Seat the Wedding Party
As we already mentioned, it’s common to seat your wedding party with the bride and groom at a head table. If you don’t like this option, however, you can seat your bridesmaids and groomsmen however you like! They can all sit together at one or two tables, or you can split them up to sit with their respective friend groups.
With your VIPs taken care of, it’s time to seat the rest of your guests. With the rest of your wedding guests, like extended family, your friends, and family friends, it can get more tricky. Start by grouping people by common interests and qualities. For example, your friends from college can sit together, especially since they’ll enjoy seeing each other to catch up and reminisce about old times.
Although it’s great if everyone at the table knows each other, weddings are also a great time to meet new people. You know the personalities of family and friends who are on your guest list, so you can seat your cousins with your childhood friends if you know they’ll get along.
Along those same lines, you might want to play matchmaker and set up a singles table, but your guests might feel awkward being singled out. Instead, you can introduce two of your friends to each other while you’re chatting with your guests. Skip the cliche singles table, but be considerate; it may not be fun for one single friend to sit with a table filled with couples.
If some of your parents’ friends made it on the guest list, you may not know them as well as your own personal friends. Ask your parents for help finding the perfect place for them to sit during the reception. With friends and relatives, spending a little more time and energy on planning the wedding seating chart can lead to a memorable night for everyone.
If there are a number of children attending your wedding, consider opening up a table just for them. This lets all your guests enjoy the festivities. Children will have fun mingling and talking to guests their age, and parents won’t have to worry about keeping them entertained. To keep the kids occupied, keep some crayons or other small toys and activities on the table. If there are only a few children at your wedding, they can be seated with their parents.
Assign Seats or Tables
With your guests broken into groups, it’s time to place them at tables around the venue! Depending on your venue and food service style, you can choose between seating individual seats or just tables. If your guests are choosing their meals when they RSVP, you may want to assign seats so that their meals come directly to them. You can also choose to assign tables and let guests seat themselves at their assigned table number.
Whichever you choose, begin placing your groups at tables around the venue. Try to give better tables, near the dance floor or other ideal spots, to those you are closer with.
If you do decide to set aside a table just for the kids, make sure their parents are close by. Younger children may need a little more help or attention, and parents will be more comfortable if they can keep an eye on their children from a distance.
Use Seating Chart Templates
It can be difficult to seat guests at tables without a visual aid. Create an actual seating chart so that you can better see how guests will fit in your venue. You can use digital seating charts or use poster board or other craft supplies to create a physical one.
If you’re a hands-on person, maybe you prefer scribbling and playing around with the seating chart on a giant piece of paper. However, there are a numerous of great wedding planning apps, resources, and websites for anyone to use. In fact, there are even some dedicated solely to seating arrangements.
AllSeated has an excellent seating chart planner. You can even plan your guest list using AllSeated, and you can record your guests’ contact information, RSVPs, and meal preferences using this service. When it comes to the seating chart, AllSeated has different pieces and styles of furniture which you can use to mimic your wedding venue. One of the most impressive features that comes with AllSeated is its virtual reality capability. With both a 2D and 3D floorplan, you can walk through your venue and see what everything looks like set out for your reception.
Wedding Wire has an assortment of tools for a smooth wedding planning experience. Their seating chart tool lets you drag and drop the tables to recreate your reception venue, then you’re able to play around with your ideal seating chart. Once you’ve finalized your seating arrangements, you’re able to send your completed seating chart with your wedding planner, parents, or anyone else who wants to take a peek.
Style Me Pretty has the perfect tool for fans of spreadsheets. This has less functionality than websites like AllSeated, but it still does the job well. With color-coding and columns for each table, it’s easy to visualize who will be sitting where.
Microsoft Office even offers some templates for wedding seating chart planning. Like the spreadsheet from Style Me Pretty, these templates are more basic, but you can still customize some of your options, like the size and shape of your table.
Displaying Wedding Table Assignments
Now that you’ve figured out who will be sitting where, you just need a creative and eye-catching way to guide everyone to the right spot. Although place cards are a go-to option, it’s not your only choice when it comes to making sure you guests are all seated properly.
Place cards are the perfect way to add a little more to your decor. You can personalize the place cards and incorporate your wedding theme and color palette. With place cards, each guest will walk around the venue until they find their seat. Although place cards were once a staple at weddings, this can be confusing for guests as they’re walking around to find their seat.
To make things a little more straight forward, you can use escort cards instead. Escort cards look the same as place cards, but they’re at a table at the front of the reception venue. Guests pick up their card as they trickle into the reception, and the cards tell them which table they’ll be seated.
If you want to skip place cards, try placing a board at the front of your reception that shows the seating chart. You can organize your chart and list by alphabetical order or by table. By looking at the board, guests can figure out which table to head to. As a bonus, if one of your bridesmaids wants to catch up with a friend from high school, she’ll know where to look!
If you’re searching for ideas on how to decorate your seating board, check out Pinterest. Your seating board can be just as classy as the rest of your venue. Place flowers around the edges or use some metallic gold paints to really make it pop. For a fun, whimsical vibe, attach some balloons to float above the board.
Planning your seating assignments may not be as exciting as shopping for your dream wedding dress, but there are websites and people to help you along the way. Start your seating arrangements with yourself, then seat your family, wedding party, and the rest of your guests.
Don’t stress about creating the perfect tables. Remember that your guests will be eating dinner at their tables, but then, they’ll have the rest of the night to dance and mingle with other guests! With your best judgment, your guests will have a fantastic time celebrating your special day.
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