The wedding planning is nearly over. One month prior to the big day, so all of your guests have finally sent in their RSVP and meal choices. Whew! Just when you thought it was time to relax, the dreaded seating chart task arises. You have 200 people attending your reception, and you need to find a suitable seat for them all. Wondering how to figure that out? Our 6 simple steps for creating a wedding seating chart can help you work through that! You may have advice from outsiders who say you don’t need a seating chart. But if you want your wedding day to run as smoothly as possible, you will AT LEAST assign everyone to a specific table. Specific seats are only required when you are having a plated meal so that the serving staff knows which meals go to which seat. If you are having a buffet, it is totally okay to assign a table and let your guest decide with whom they want to sit next to.
Step 1: Know your Table Size, Table Type, and Floor Plan Layout
Speak with your wedding planner or venue coordinator to determine what kind of tables, what size tables, and how many tables are available. Do not just assume that every venue has the same type and size tables. Some venues have rectangular and square tables in addition to round ones. Traditionally, you will find 5 foot (60 inch) tables that seat 6-8 guests and 6 foot (72 inch) tables that fit 8-10 guests. The number of guests can vary based on the type of place setting you are having. If it is informal with only one fork and no charger plate, you can likely fit the latter amount at each table. If you plan to include a charger plate, several glasses, and multiple flatware options, go with less people per table so that there is enough pace for all of the items. Also, do not forget to take into account the size of your guests. You want them to be comfortable and not touching elbows while they are eating.
An important part of this step that is often missed is to make sure your tables are far enough apart so that your guests can get up and move freely. We like to use a program called All Seated which allows your venue to be shown to scale with grid spaces for each table to fit into. All Seated has different pieces and styles of furniture which you can use to mimic your wedding venue. The program also comes equipped with a 2D and 3D floor plan that you can walk through and see what everything looks like set out for your reception. This is the easiest way to ensure your guests are comfortable.
Once you have calculated how many tables you will need to seat your nearest and dearest, you should consider where other items like your buffet, dance floor, and DJ will be placed.
Step 2: Seat Yourself
Remember, you are the guests of honor darling. You want to figure out where you are sitting first, and build everyone else’s seats around you. Are you opting for a sweetheart table with just the two of you, or a head table with your entire bridal party? Sweetheart tables are our favorite because they give you and your new spouse an opportunity to share your first meal in a more intimate setting. Your guests are seated farther away and not able to interrupt you during your meal. If you would rather have all of your finest people around you, then a head table may be the best way for you to go. This usually includes the couple, the wedding party, and in some instances, your parents. Keep in mind that utilizing a head table means your Maid of Honor’s plus one will NOT be sitting with her. Whichever seating style you choose, be sure you are comfortable and you are still the center of attention when creating a wedding seating chart, because it’s your day after all!
Step 3: Seat Your Parents and Grandparents
Typically, the table nearest to you are your parents and grandparents. Depending on how large your family is, you may be able to get both sets of parents and grandparents at the same table. If not, it is okay to split them into two tables. One for your family and one for your spouse’s family. Some couples opt to mix them up purposely so they get to know one another. Another thing to consider is the age of your guests. If your parents are younger, they may want to sit with their brothers and sisters (your aunt and uncles) instead of their parents. Choosing this option should allow you to put all of the parents and grandparents together as mentioned above. Do not forget to take into account where the DJ or band will be placed, as not to harm the ears of your older guests. Would you rather have your elders near the dance floor, near the food, or near a bathroom? These are all variables to think about when planning your seating chart.
Step 4: Seat the Wedding Party
As we mentioned earlier, if a head table is not your choice, you can seat the wedding party in a few different ways:
- Bridesmaids and Groomsmen all at one table
- Bridesmaids and Groomsmen at two separate tables
- Bridesmaids with their plus ones at one table and Groomsmen with their plus ones at another table
Just like your parents, your wedding party is considered VIP guests when creating a wedding seating chart, and should be placed close to you and the dance floor. This also allows them easy access when making toasts or handling important tasks.
Step 5: Seat Everyone Else
Seating yourself, your parents, and the wedding party was the easy part. Figuring out where to place your Great Aunt Alice, your co-workers, and your single friend Jamie can prove to be much more challenging. We recommend placing everyone else into the following groups:
- Aunts/Uncles – your parent’s brothers and sisters; feel free to mix your aunt and uncles with your spouse’s aunts and uncles
- Cousins – they don’t want to sit with their parents; group them by age – a group of 30 somethings will not enjoy sitting with a group of tweens and under
- Friends that know each other – they already have a common bond
- Friends that do not know each other, but have a plus one – they are bringing a date, but they do not know anyone else
- Single friends – they are not bringing a date and they do not know anyone else; this is usually the most fun table to be around!
- Co-Workers – if you are inviting supervisors, you may want to consider sitting them elsewhere; think about your work dynamics
- Church, Fraternity, Sorority groups etc.
- Children under a certain age – have an activity available to keep them busy
- Other family, vendors, your parent’s family
Keep the personalities, interests, and ages of your guests in mind. Seat people with other people you think they will get along with. A wedding is a great time for people to meet for the first time. You are blending two families, two social groups, and two lifestyles as one, so be sure to make your guests feel comfortable while at the same time, give them the ability to make new connections. You never know which connection may turn into the next wedding!
Step 6: Display your Seating Chart
Ensure that your guests know what table they are assigned to by using a seating chart display. They come in various forms and shapes. Get creative! Your wedding planner can help you come up with a unique way to display your table assignments.
Remember, there is no wrong or right way when you are creating a wedding seating chart. Do what makes sense to you and what you feel will be right for you and your guests. If you have a guest that complains about their seat, remind them that the seats are simply just for eating, and they can get up, mingle and party the remainder of the time.