You’ve nailed down your venue and your guest list. Your décor. Your vendors. Your details. The RSVPs are in (mostly)…so now…the seating chart!
First things first, having a floor plan to look at can be helpful. Reach out to your venue coordinator or wedding planner to see if they have a blueprint or floor plan made up. Do you want round or long tables? Or both? Are you planning on a buffet or plated style meal? Stations or family style? Where is your dance floor and where are guest tables in proximity to that? A floor plan helps with all of that! If you are not working with a professional - create your own! It will give you a sense of space and table location when deciding how to place your guests. It’s always a good idea to seat older guests further from the band or DJ so that the sound isn’t too loud and for easy access to and from the restrooms, bar, buffet line, etc. Seating younger friends and guests who are likely to be up and dancing near the source of sound can be both convenient and efficient as they’re unlikely to stay in their seats much past dinner anyways!
Next, decide between a sweetheart table or a head table! Work from the inside out. You want to keep your dearest family and/or friends closest to the action – and to you! If you decide on a sweetheart table, it might be worth surrounding yourself with your bridal party and their dates and friends. Or your parents and family placed closest, with your bridal party seated throughout the room with their dates and in the respective category of family and friends. In short: compile your nearest and dearest at the tables closest to you, whoever that may be!
Parental and guardian configurations can vary greatly from family to family- and you know your family dynamics the best! Typically parents are seated at tables closest to you and within the best sightlines. It can be hard to know who to seat at family tables – parents and grandparents are a great start. From there? Do you have any guests that are close friends to the family or your parents? It may be worth asking your folks to see if there is a friend they’d love to have at their table for encouraging smiles or a quick hand squeeze! Of course, not all families have just one set of parents in which case, you can always seat them together, unless this is uncomfortable. If this is a tense or unhappy dynamic its suggested to place them at the two nearest tables, so no one feels like they’re being short changed for their chance to watch you.
Once you have seated your bridal party and parents, it is time to seat your friends and remaining guests without an assigned seat yet! Categorizing your guests into tables or at least people who know each other or who are from a similar part of your life, prior to creating the seating chart can be helpful on this one! This can help you categorize your brain. If a group is too big for one table, consider creating a mix of guests that ensures everyone has someone familiar, even if it means sitting with mostly new faces! It can be nice to also take into consideration the dynamic of your single friends versus your married friends. It’s suggested to skip the “singles” table as that can create uncomfortable pressure, but it’s important to be thoughtful not to seat 1 single friend at a table of married couples.
Assign seats or just assign tables?
We have seen it done all ways! If you have a headache trying to decide who sits next to who, simply decide who sits WITH who! Create a table of guests and let them do the rest!
Are you concerned certain family members or friends might try and sit in a place that could be an issue? Don’t’ be afraid to assign seats so that you can rest assured it is all handled. If guests question why, simply answer it was easier for you this way!
Allowing folks to sit wherever they would like and with whoever they would like certainly takes a lot of pressure off of you, but can create stress amongst the room. It can be a great way to switch things up and put power back into your guests’ self-sovereign hands, but here are a few ideas to boost your success.
At the end of the day, as long as everyone has a physical seat at a table in the space, it will all work out. Most people remain seated through formalities and dinner, and after that they generally move to visit with whoever they’d like! So grab a bottle of wine, a cup of tea or cocoa, some popcorn, and a friend or your fiancé, and get to work!
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