I’m told repeatedly, “I am not looking forward to doing the seating chart.”
I know it’s daunting but I’m all about separating things into steps and points to make it easier. So, make sure that you have:
1) Planned how to display everyone’s names and table assignments.
2) The room layout for everything from the DJ and bar to the dessert and guest tables.
3) The number of guests that are attending.
4) The list of guests who will be eating dinner.
There are so many ways to display your guests’ table assignments: Acrylic, high-end poster board, temporary walls, tables with little favors…the possibilities are virtually endless! Etsy is a great resource for a lot of artists and crafters in case you don’t have the DIY-thumb.
Once you know how many people are coming, look at the room layout. Having a room layout is SO IMPORTANT for the caterer, the venue, the rental company, and florist. It tells them what goes where. Even the tables for your guests should be numbered exactly how you want them to be placed. Want table 1 near the sweetheart table? Make sure it’s next to it on the layout chart! Also make sure you indicate how many chairs are going to be at each guest table, and how big each table will be (6ft round, 8ft rectangle, etc).
If your venue doesn’t have a diagram of the space for tables to be drawn on, make one! It doesn’t have to be to scale.
Once you have your RSVPs in, note how many guests you have! Your caterer and the venue will need to know. When it comes to putting butts in seats, I categorize everyone into at least one group but you can always use more. Groups will help you figure out who sits with who.
Groups to separate everyone could be:
-Parents and grandparents (separate tables for divorced families but give them equal “view”)
-Paternal side (aunts, uncles, cousins)
-Maternal side (aunts, uncles, cousins)
-Parents’ friends/family friends
-High school friends
-Kids (13+); kids any younger should sit with a parent
Some big table questions and things to avoid:
Try to avoid making a “singles table.” It will make those guests feel like they’re on more than one forced blind date at the same time. Try putting those single friends and if needed, their plus ones, with coworkers, or a table with similar-aged cousins. It will make them chat with people who know you differently and might help those friends you may be worried about behave a little better!
Kids at your wedding? No problem! A kids’ table could be disastrous, so I always find it best that any kid under the age of 13, especially at a buffet dinner, be seated with a parent. MOST kids over the age of 13 can manage to sit at a table with a small group of same-aged kids. MOST, not all. Know your guests and go with your gut on that one.
Stepfamilies can be intense. Especially if mom(s) and dad(s) are remarried or not civil. If they have been verbal with you about “equal view” then make sure you honor it. Don’t have any parent sitting with their back to you, and seat them near a table with their extended family. They’ll feel like they belong in the room because they’ll have familiarity nearby. Not civil? Make sure your vendors are aware of it to some polite degree.
If your high school and college friends are a big group and you’re afraid they’ll get rowdy, put them away from grandma and grandpa. I always like putting the friends with similar-aged cousins if possible, or near the bar. They want to socialize with each other and have fun!
Overall – when making your seating chart for guests, remember the things you’ll need and separate into groups! Then grab your sticky notes and your excel sheet and talk it out. It’s definitely a large and important task but if tackle it in smaller pieces, it’s manageable!