Quick guide to creating your wedding reception seating chart

Only you and your partner know who your guests would get along with, after all everyone has to be comfortable!

Lara Barakat

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When I attended weddings in the past, I would usually pick up my escort card, and make my way to the allocated seat, not giving much thought into the hard work the bride, and groom went through to make a seating chart that actually works. Many couples find seating charts one of the most stressful, and difficult parts of wedding planning. Here’s how to make playing musical chairs a breeze.

Personally I prefer an open seating plan for guests, that way they have the option of sitting next to whomever they desire, at least that’s how it was at my wedding. Usually creating a seating plan is left to the very end of the wedding planning process, as you need to wait to receive all your RSVP’s.

Unfortunately the couple are the only people who can determine the seating chart, you may ask for guidance or help from the wedding planner, and friends but when things get serious, only you and your partner know who your guests would get along with, after all everyone has to be comfortable.

Better Now, than Never: Start early, I know this may be difficult to do, because we all have those annoying guests that wait till the very last-minute to RSVP. But if you can always draft up a seating chart, and amend it as you go. I would recommend starting this draft plan three to two months before the wedding, and mark down the attendee’s as the months pass and the RSVP’s start to arrive. Try to have the final copy ready at least a week before the wedding.

Dont Stress: Your guests won’t be seated all the time, mainly during dinner. Don’t stress about making the perfect table of 8, as long as each guests knows one or two people on the table that they like then you don’t have to worry.

To be on the safe side, I would advise allowing some guests to bring a plus one, that way you can guarantee they will be seated next to a person of their choice. You must also decide if you want to assign tables, or tables and specific seats. These are two different things, I would personally advise to assign tables, as when you start to get technical with assigned seats you may stress yourself out by over thinking, and over planning.

However if you do decide to assign seats, you would need both escort cards, and place cards, which are on the table and help guide your guests to their seats.

My Advice:

Take the time to go through the list, create a draft of spreadsheet, categories your guests according to relationships i.e. bride’s family, groom’s friend, bride’s family friend, and so on. This will help you break down and decide a suitable seating plan or structure. If you are feeling more creative, you can use a large poster, draw big circles (tables) and using mini sticky notes to place the guests on a table.

The Lovebirds:

Don’t forget to include both you and your partner in the seating plan, lucky for you, there are many options you can choose from, first decide whom you wish to sit next to?

- Both of you alone.
- With your bridesmaids, and groomsmen.
- With both your parents.

Once you have decided on the above, you can narrow down the size of the table i.e sweetheart, or rectangular. Sweetheart tables are used mainly by couples with divorced parents, as it is one way to avoid having to pick sides. If your families all get along well a table made up of you and your partner and both sets of parents can be great, or a table with your wedding party and their dates works just as well. You may also choose to sit alone with your partner on a half-moon shaped table, this way you can enjoy your reception in a more intimate way.

Let’s Talk Numbers:

Ideally you would know the capacity of your venue by now, and also the number of guests you have invited. You can then determine how many people to place on a table, taking into consideration of course the shape and size of the tables the venue supply.

If you are having a small wedding of say 60 covers, then its best to utilize more tables and seat fewer people per table i.e. 6, if you are hosting a large wedding of 60 and above then maybe consider seating 8 to 10 guests on a table. It’s best to always stick to even numbers.