7 Tips to the Perfect Wedding Seating Chart
Here's how to make playing musical chairs a breeze.
Wedding seating charts are incredible. With the right combination of people at each table, you give your guests the opportunity to meet, mingle and celebrate in a memorable way. Not every event warrants a seating chart, however. For example, if you're having a buffet its not strictly necessary to give people specific seating assignments. But, if you're having 75 guests or more and serving a seated meal, you'll want to make sure everyone has a specific place to sit.
Why do you need to do this? It's simple. If you are serving several different entrée choices, it is incredibly helpful for the caterer. It allows them to determine beforehand how many chicken, beef and vegetarian dishes a given table gets. Also, if there is an issue of food allergies, it helps because they who to provide what meal to. Also, it will keep your guests happy. People like to know where they're sitting, and that you took the time to choose where they should sit and with whom.
1. Start Early
There are couples who've been left figuring this all out the night before the wedding. Don't wait till the last minute to start the seating chart...when couples do this some guests always get over looked and you're left to scramble on your wedding day to determine where they need to go. This is stress you don't need and your guest is left feeling like an afterthought. It's fine to make last-minute changes, but try to get the chart mostly done at least two weeks before the big day.
While planning your seating chart might not be as glamorous as trying on wedding gowns or tasting decadent cake samples, try to find the fun in it. You've got a unique opportunity to make introductions and group your loved ones based on chemistry and shared interests. You never know who might connect and form lasting relationships because of your seating chart!
2. Break It Down
First, create a new spreadsheet. If you haven't already, insert a column into your guest list document categorizing all the invitees by relationship: your friends, your family, your partner's friends, your partner's family, your family friends, your partner's family friends and so on. This way, you can sort the list easily and break it down into more logical table groupings.
Once you've organized your guests into groups, consider which invitees would mesh well together. Your college friends may click instantly with your high school friends, but your boss and your sorority sisters might not. There are no rules when it comes to this process, but anyone curious about how to make a seating chart for a wedding should definitely keep group chemistry in mind.
3. Create a Paper Trail
If you're more visual, draw circles, or rectangles depending on what types of tables you will be using, on a big sheet of paper and write names inside them. Just be sure that you only put the number of names for how many people can comfortably be seated at each table. You could also write every guest's name on a Post-It note and place it accordingly. Seating charts are easier when you have a physical representation for each group. Using your circles for tables, play around with combinations of guests using pennies and small toys to represent each person. We know this might sound silly, but using action figures to represent your family and pennies as stand ins for your friends and work colleagues can really help in providing a new perspective on your seating chart.
4. Head Up the Head Table—or Don't
A traditional head table is long and straight, set up along a wall, occasionally on risers, facing all the other reception tables. Traditionally, the newlyweds sit directly in the center where everyone can see them, with the maid of honor next to the groom, the best man next to the bride, and then boy/girl out from there....trust us, it seems slightly odd, but it is better for your photos. Keep in mind, however, that you don't have to do it this way. All the bridesmaids can sit on the bride's side, and all the groomsmen on the groom's. Or if you're not interested in being on display, or you don't want to separate your bridal party from their spouses or significant others, let them sit at round reception tables with each other and have a sweetheart table for the two of you. This is especially great to get you a little one-on-one time, too. If you still feel too much on display at your own table, another option would be to sit with your parents at a round table, making that essentially the head table with the wedding party at their own tables.
5. Place Your Parents
Traditionally, your parents and your partner's parents sit at the same table, along with grandparents, siblings not in the wedding party, and the officiant and their spouse if they attend the reception. But if your or your partner's parents are divorced and are uncomfortable about sitting next to each other, you might want to let each set of parents host their own table of close family and/or friends. This could mean up to four parents' tables, depending on your situation. You can also have the divorced parent who raised you or your partner and their spouse/date sit at the table with still-married parents. Just remember, the parent-seating question is a flexible one. Set it up in whatever way best suits everybody. If you're unsure, don't hesitate to talk to the parents in question about it before you make your final decisions.
6. Tame Tensions
There may also be situations in which certain family members just do not get along. Maybe they haven't spoken in years. Maybe the last time they saw each other at the last family wedding there was a drunken argument. Understandably, you want to keep them as far apart as possible. Think about these kinds of relationships, or lack thereof, before you begin making your chart, so they can be taken into consideration.
7. Don't Forget the Little Ones
If you're inviting several children to your wedding, you may want to put together a kids' table. Give them crafts or other activities to keep them busy between courses and speeches. They will feel important having their own table and their parents will thank you! When creating your seating chart, however, try to position that kids table nearby to the parents just to be on the safe side.
Of course, you'll want to keep the ages of your children guests in mind when planning your seating chart. Kids under the age of eight will need close supervision while dining, and if there are fewer than three or four children, you may be better off keeping them with their parents at their respective tables. Thankfully, the beauty of these seating chart ideas is that you can play around with options until you've created the perfect arrangement.
8. Provide Reunion Time
All of your college or high school friends will be psyched to sit at a table together. It also gives them an opportunity to catch up. Even if you have a lot of single friends you're eager to pair off, resist the urge to create a singles table. It's a seating chart idea that has become increasingly stereotypical through the years. Instead of focusing on your guests' romantic partnerships, seat them according to whom they know and how they'll get along with other invitees. They'll pair up organically if there is a connection!
9. Table Planner App
Once all your hard work has been done, load all that info into the Table Planner App. This makes it easy to share with parents and planners alike. Plus, it makes any of those last minute changes a breeze and your seating chart will be right there at your finger tips at any given moment.
This amazing app allows you to not only list all your guests but track whether they have RSVPed yes or no. Once you check them off as attending you can begin to add them to your tables.
You even have the capability to adjust table shapes and sizes to fit what you have envisioned. This will be especially helpful when sharing this information with your planner and caterer.
The detail we love the most about this app, however, is the ability to add small notes, like whether a guest has a food allergy, will be attending with a small child in need of a high chair or any other small detail you find important to share.
We hope this makes typing up your wedding day seating chart easier for you and your partner. If you discover any other great ideas for making this chore a breeze, please let us know in the comments below!