Planning the seating arrangement for your wedding reception is like doing one giant puzzle. You have to figure out exactly where each person fits into the bigger picture. And once you dive in, placing your cousins at one table, your friends at another, you’ll realize it’s a lot trickier than it sounds. But even though you may feel like throwing in the towel when you have two remaining people and nowhere to put them, a seating chart is absolutely worth doing right.
Of course, there are some types of wedding where you can get away without any seating list such as a small, informal garden wedding. However, a formal seated dinner or a larger wedding with lots of small groups usually require one.
Seating charts do put guests’ minds at ease. They don’t have to make decisions about where to sit – a positive at weddings where some guests won’t know each other. Letting guests wing-it often leads to the inevitable small cliques of guests who stick together and won’t mingle with others. That’s not necessarily a good thing when you’re trying to bring two families together.
There are plenty of options for a table chart for your style of wedding. Printed and ready for a frame, printed and mounted to a board that sits on an easel, separate cards ready to hang from twine, handwritten onto glass or a mirror
Whatever option you choose to go down when seating guests, there are several things you’ll need to consider:
Where do I start?
There are some things you need to consider before you can set about figuring out where everyone can sit. For starters, what shape and size are your tables? Your venue may already have tables, which will clearly determine your options (round of long rectangles). This will help you draw up a chart with the right number of seats. While you can have tables that seat between 2 and 12 people, a general rule of thumb is that eight guests will fit around a ‘standard’ size table comfortably.
Who goes where?
Now that you have the layout of your room, you are ready to draw up a visual representation. You can simply place all your guests’ names on slips of paper so that you can easily move them about until it all works.
It can be tricky, but if you keep the following very general rules in mind, it’ll be that much easier:
Don’t assume you should seat all your singles together at a table because their ‘singleness’ will give them something to talk about. While it’s a nice idea (and can actually work out sometimes), it can also be very awkward or embarrassing for your single guests. Instead, consider spread them about your seating positioned at tables with people who may have something in common to talk about – unless, of course, you’re doing a bit of match-making!
Don’t put feuding relatives at the same table. This usually includes divorced parents. As an alternative, you could give each of them their own table to ‘host.’
Don’t seat your elderly guests near speakers or the band. A thoughtful touch is to provide disposable earplugs for them.
When it comes to kids, many people opt for a kids’ table at the back of the room. That isn’t the only alternative. You could also strategically place younger guests near their parents. That gives them the freedom to have fun, they’re still watched but the parents will also give both the kids and the parents a little more freedom to let their hair down! When seating children, always put them in seats that are away from the cake table but close to the bathroom. A nice touch is to supply games, colouring books and pencils to keep them busy.
Eliminate any potential drama before it even has a chance, to begin with, a simple seating arrangement. It may be challenging, but when you’re in the swing of things on your big day, you’ll be REAL glad you spent the time putting the tricky puzzle together!