I don’t even know how many times I’ve been asked to assist with seating charts and seating arrangements. The sad reality is, it’s next to impossible for anyone else to decide where your wedding guests sit other than you! Hopefully, if you’re inviting someone to your wedding, you know them and know where they should be seated for your reception. However, that doesn’t make it any easier, so here are a few tips that might help when it comes to creating a seating chart…
1. Get Organized.
I know, this is probably one of the least fun parts about wedding planning, in general. You know all of those RSVP cards? If you haven’t yet, take them and record every single person that is going to be attending your wedding. (Hopefully you’ll already have a list of everyone you sent invitations to, so you can use that as your starting point.) And yes, this would be the time to track down all of those missing RSVPs or break the bad news to your cousin Annie that her invitation, addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, does not include her entire gaggle of mini people.
BONUS POINTS if you take the time to record meal selections for everyone. Why not just get it all out of the way at once?
When should this be done? After your RSVP deadline, or no later than TWO weeks before the wedding. Any closer than that and it’ll just stress you out – I mean, more than you already are.
ALSO – This is when you want to decide if you want to do assigned SEATING or just assigned tables. Assigned tables will make your life a lot easier, but more formal weddings do tend to prefer assigned seating. TIP: If you have rectangular tables, especially multiple rectangular tables put together, it may be easier to have assigned seats as well. This means each person gets an assigned table, and then once they get to their table, the have an actual seat assigned to them, indicated with a placecard.
2. Pick Your Method
There are some who swear by the post it method, while other, more technologically savvy folk prefer anything from spreadsheets to software like Powerpoint or Excel. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s what is right for you, and how you think. I tend to advocate for the digital organizational style, mainly for ease of use. Note: If your dog happens to favor rolling in post-its, you may find yourself back at square one if you leave them unsupervised for too long.
I highly recommend Wedding Wire for the task of seating – you can keep track of your RSVPs as they come in, meal selections for guests, AND place people at tables (and rearrange as needed). It’s a one-stop-shop, really.
Editor’s note: Because of the visual nature of a seating chart and assigned seats, in the past I’ve used Powerpoint (or other design program) to create a mockup of a floorplan to create a visual to go off of, and then assigned seats by using guest names in an Excel spreadsheet. Do whatever you think will work for you!
3. Figure Out Your Max
Before you start anything, DOUBLE CHECK with your venue, rental company, caterer, or wedding planner as to the number of seats that will be at every table. This really will vary from event to event, depending on table size, chair size, and place settings. Typically 72″ rounds will seat 10 to 12, while 60″ rounds will seat 8 to 10. Rectangular tables will seat fewer, with 8′ banquet tables seating about 8 guests total – and you’re not going to want to deviate from that too much, since it may look (and feel) wonky.
4. Name Your Tables – BUT USE NUMBERS TOO
I know that the trend is to use
weird meaningful names for tables, like places you and your fiancé have visited or names of your favorite games – I actually had a client name their tables with game names, and it was pretty awesome. But do you know what’s not awesome? Trying to figure out what table goes where, and having your guests trying to find their table in a sea of tables named after cities. After all, half of the reason for assigning tables at your wedding is to make things go a bit smoother, and having tables set up in a manner that makes sense is what will do this.
So, go ahead and figure out what you want to name your tables (that’s the fun part) and also assign a table number to go along with the name to make things a little easier. But now comes the not-so-fun part…
5. Start Seating
I would HIGHLY recommend that assign tables in chronological order based on the “importance” of your guests. For example, if you’re having a sweetheart table:
- Bridesmaids and guests/significant others
- Groomsmen and guests/significant others
- Bride’s immediate family
- Bride’s extended family
- Bride’s extended family
- Groom’s immediate family
- Groom’s extended family
- Groom’s extended family
- Bride’s childhood friends
- Bride’s college friends
- Bride’s work friends
- Groom’s childhood friends
- Groom’s college friends
- Groom’s work friends
Obviously, that’s just an example, but you see where I’m going with it. This ensures that even tables are placed in the appropriate places throughout your reception space.
Themes are a great way to ease the stress of assigned seating, especially if you can’t seat people with others that they know. Another way to do it is to give every table an age range and go from there. This is especially useful if you have a lot of your parents’ friends that are attending – just put them all at one table and you’re golden!
Obviously, once you are finished with your seating chart, you are going to want to send it to your planner, caterer, venue, etc. This should be done at least two days before your wedding so that tables can be set up with the appropriate number of seats at each table.
Make sure to also include a sketch of the space, even if it’s rough, on where you want each table to be placed (if you haven’t already established that with your planner or designer). If you don’t include that, your tables are going to be set in chronological order. I’ve had quite a few mother-of-the-brides upset at me because I didn’t place their table close enough to the sweetheart table, so be warned. If you want to have an exact say on where tables should be placed, you need to sketch it out!
When it comes to letting guests know about their seating assignment on the wedding day, there are some pretty fabulous things you could do. Check out this post or Lauren’s Pinterest board for some ideas and examples!
That’s all I have for now! Do any of you have tips or tricks on creating your seating chart?
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