While specifically-assigned seating at a wedding reception isn’t necessarily mandatory, most brides do opt to create a wedding seating chart with assigned table numbers. After all, at a sit-down dinner reception, assigned tables just tend to make things simpler.
First of all, an outlined seating chart will ensure that each table gets filled evenly – especially when your guest list reaches the max capacity of your reception venue! On the other hand, people also appreciate knowing where they're sitting—and that you took the time to choose where and with whom they should be. Furthermore, assigned seating is helpful for the catering staff because they can use the seating chart to figure out beforehand how many chicken, beef and vegetarian dishes a given table gets, since they’ll know who's sitting where.
The problem with the seating chart (other than juggling other people’s needs and emotions) is that it usually comes just at the end of wedding planning, when you’re already handling a million things. Don’t stress out!! The experts at PAPER & LACEare sharing their top tips for creating a stress-free wedding seating chart:Choose Your Table Shape
Before you start deciding where guests will sit, you'll need to have a game plan for your tables. The size and shape of your reception tables will dictate how many guests can be seated at each table. There are usually four basic options to choose from:
- Round: most traditional and afford guests a lot of comfortable leg room
- Rectangle: typically, more rectangular tables can fit into a space. Rectangular tables are also easiest when it comes to talking across the table
- Oval: offer an elegant feel, and can fit more people than traditional, round tables
- Square: just like rectangular, square makes it easy to talk across the table, but won’t fit as many guests as a rectangular table
After you decide on what tables you prefer – and the style that will fit best in your reception space – then you can start populating them with your guests.Consider the Floor Plan
Keep your reception venue’s floorplan in mind while creating your wedding seating chart. Give your VIPs (say, the bridal party) the best seats in the house, so they have a clear view of all the action and can jump into the celebration. Older guest may want to be a little further from the band/DJ (and not near a speaker) so it isn’t too loud. Younger guests may fit well along the dancefloor, where they can have easy access to party the night away!Find a Spot for Your Parents
Traditionally, the bride and groom’s parents sit at the same table, along with grandparents and siblings. That’s not always the case, though, depending on the circumstance. If your or your hubby's parents are divorced and don’t necessarily get along, you might want to let each set of parents host their own table of close family and friends. This could mean up to four parents' tables, depending on your situation.
Remember, though, that the parent-seating situation should a flexible one. Set it up in whatever way best suits everybody – after all, they will all be sharing in your celebration in the end!
Did you decide on using sweetheart table – a small table specifically for the bride and groom?
If so, consider having your parents and wedding party close by. They should be seated at the second-best table in the room:
- The first is your sweetheart table
- The second is for your parents
- The third is for the wedding party
Once you have a finalized list of who’s attending the wedding, you can start grouping guests according to how you know them, such as: family members, high school friends, college friends, work friends, etc.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to seat them according to group, but will give you an idea of who already knows each other and will get along. In addition to grouping by how you know guests, you can also consider ages, interests, and backgrounds. Do your best to make everyone feel comfortable by offering a mix of familiar and new faces at each table.Escort Cards & Seating Charts
If you’ve decided to assign specific seats or tables, you’ll need some combination of place cards, escort cards, and a seating chart… but where to start? Here’s the difference between the different types of seating chart stationery
- Place cardsmark each guest’s assigned seat (they’re placed at each table setting)
- Escort cardstell guests their assigned table, and assigned seat if applicable (they’re placed at the reception welcome table)
- Seating chartsare essentially big posters that show the floorplan of the reception space, along with where each numbered table is located within the room (it’s placed at or near the reception welcome table)
At the end of the day, some of us brides-to-be may have to accept that not everyone is going to be peachy keen on our final seating arrangements. Deep breaths – we promise that it will be okay!
When in doubt, trust your instincts when it comes to creating your wedding seating chart. Try to be accommodating, but don't stress out over placing everyone in the perfect seat. Chances are, after dinner, everyone will get up, dance and mingle anyway.
Cheers to that!