Seating charts don't have to be complicated. Creating a simple seating plan for your wedding reception is a sure way to reduce everyone's anxiety, including yours! It shows that you are organized and have put thought into your wedding details. Not only that, but it also eliminates confusion and the need for your guests to play musical chairs when trying to figure it out on their own.
Why are seating charts important? Can't guests just sit anywhere they like? The answer is yes. However, it's not the most efficient way to do things and can create a lot of confusion. If you have a large guests count this is undoubtedly going to be a challenge and could interfere with timing and the flow of the evening.
Having a formal seating plan will also ensure everyone on your guest list has a seat at a specific table. It ads to the overall experience you want your guests to have, letting them know you put thought into your wedding details and had their comfort in mind. It also helps get people where they need to be faster so the rest of the reception can continue as planned without unnecessary delays.
Here are a few easy tips you can follow when creating your reception seating plan and table assignments.
1. Wedding Party Table
When it comes to your wedding party you have options. You can seat them at the head table together with their significant others or just keep it to those who are part of the wedding. The newlyweds generally sit in the middle in between the wedding party or at a separate table called a sweetheart table, which is generally a smaller round or half round table. The head table and and sweetheart table are the focal point of the wedding reception and should be set up in a place that is easy all guests to see.
2. Family Tables
Seat immediate family at the tables closest to the head table and wedding party. If you are numbering your tables, the family tables are where you want to start numbering (one, two, etc). Seat parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and their significant others together along with other immedite family and/or close friends. If you have family attending the wedding that you are not close to or they are not part of your immediate family, seat them at tables three, four and five so they are still close to the head table and other family members.
3. Friends and Acquaintances
Close groups of friends will likely want to sit together with people they know. It's ok to mix in acquaintances with some of your close friends but keep in mind they may feel awkward in this setting so it's best to be selective when you do this and consider everyone's personality and comfort level in social situations. The same goes for your single friends. Having a singles only table nowadays is somewhat frowned upon. Instead, mix in your single friends with other couples. If you have a table of eight, you could easily have two couples and four singles at one table to accomplish this.
If you have more than five children attending, or you prefer to have and "adults only" dinner, seat them at their own table away from the main reception area. This works well for children who are are age four and up, however, very young children and infants should sit with their parents. It's important however to let your guests know ahead of time that you will be seating children at their own table and get their approval. If the parents prefer to sit with their children, try your best to accommodate or explain the circumstances.
It's best to talk about your seating plans before the wedding day to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion. If you have a children's table, have some age appropriate activites to keep them busy and entertained such as coloring books, stickers, or non-messy crafts. If you need help coming up with fun ideas or want to hire a professional service to look after the littles, consider companies that specialize in this area such as @the_kidzz_table who design custom experiences and provide care and entertainment for your youngest guests.
5. Create a Seating Chart
A beautiful seating chart placed near the reception area is a great way to let your guests know what table they need to go to. Names are typically arranged by table number and in alphabetical order to make them easier to find. Seating charts are generally large and placed on stands, tables or easels so they can easily be seen. It's a great idea to also have a digital image or print out of your table assignments to refer to or to give your wedding planner so he or she can assist in helping guests get to their tables.
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Image: Danielle Honea Phototography
Brenda Cali is a professionally trained Wedding Consultant and plans a variety of social and corporate events.