August 14, 2018

How to Tackle Your Wedding Seating Chart

How To Tackle Your Wedding Seating Chart

You have carefully chosen all your vendors, you’ve selected the perfect wedding dress, all the fun decisions seem to have been made. The details of your wedding day seems to be coming together beautifully and then you start to think about the dreaded seating chart.

Do I Really Need a Seating Chart?

I promise to answer this question in depth by the end of this article, so just stick with me. I will explain why I think a seating chart is crucial and how to make creating your seating chart simple and fun!

1. Create a Master Guest List

  • When should I have guests RSVP by? First determine when the final guest count is due for your venue and caterer. You will want to have all RSVPs in 3 weeks prior to that date. During those 3 weeks you will have time to follow-up with those who haven’t replied and create your seating chart.
  • How should I organize RSVPS? As you receive attending RSVPs, highlight those on your original spreadsheet in whatever color makes you happy. As regrets come in, highlight those names in black. This allows guests to be removed from your guest list, but not deleted. That way, if there is a change of plans, you can always go back and make adjustments, easily adding them back to the guest list.
  • What if people haven’t responded? Now that your master guest list is coming together, you can easily see who has not yet replied. Once the RSVP date has passed you can pick up the phone and call guests who have yet to reply. Better yet, delegate this job to your maid of honor or your mom!! The more you can delegate tasks, the less stressed you will be.

Your job as the bride is to be the BRIDE!!

Pro Tip: Instead of spending money on RSVP cards + postage, utilize an online reply using something like RSVPify!! You will save money and your guests will be more likely to respond in a timely manner.

2. The Open Seating Debate

Open seating is so much easier on your part! It really seems like the more casual and laid back experience. It gives your guests the freedom to choose where they sit and who they sit with. However, I feel like this approach is cause for serious concern.

Open-seating can cause many potential problems!!

  • Crowded tables
  • Empty tables
  • Not enough room at one table for an entire family or a couple
  • Uncomfortable guests
  • Awkward interactions 
  • Total Confusion

I wholeheartedly believe in assigning tables, and here is example of why. I’m a very outgoing, friendly, personable individual. I can talk to anyone and I have no problem interacting with new people. My husband Travis, on the other hand is completely the opposite. It takes him a little while to warm up in new social situations and it can often be intimidating for him, when meeting new people. A few years ago, Travis and I were invited to a wedding with open seating.

We found a table rather quickly because we were one of the first few in the ballroom. After a while, the seats started filling up and the tables were getting full. Several guests sat down at our table and were whispering. Instantly the vibe became extremely uncomfortable for us.

After a few minutes, someone came over and showed us a very small piece of paper with a scribbled word that read ‘reserved’. As you can imagine, we were extremely embarrassed, and left our seats feeling mortified. Aside from the groom and my husband, I didn’t know anyone else at the wedding. At this point, every table was full except for a few scattered seats across the room. I’m sure you can imagine what happened next.

We left the wedding, before dinner was even served!

It was the most awkward experience of my life. Can you imagine how my husband felt? It was awful!! We felt completely unwanted. Although this is an extreme example, it happened. And the worst part was, when I talked to the bride afterwards, she was equally embarrassed and confessed that the table wasn’t even reserved. The whole situation could have been easily avoided had there been a seating chart in place.

Why Assigning Tables is Essential

  • It makes your guests instantly feel comfortable, connected + cared about.
  • Your guests will feel excited that you took the time to think about them!

I promise your guests will be so thankful!! 

3. Finalize Floor Plan:

Once you finalize your guest count and determine how many tables you will need, consider the layout of the space.

This part shouldn’t be too hard, so don’t over-think this step. Some venues may complicate this decision if they offer different size/shaped table options. Round tables are the best for conversation, but rectangular tables look really beautiful aesthetically and are becoming more popular.

Go with your gut, don’t stress and ask your venue for their ideas on how to arrange the tables to maximize the space.

At this time, you will need to decide where you and your bridal party will be sitting. Will you have a romantic cozy sweetheart table, or do you want to sit with your bridal party at a head table? 

Now that your tables are in position, you can start assigning them.

4. Assign Tables + Group Guests Accordingly:

Here is where the majority of your time will be spent. This part should be fun! Grab your maid of honor, a poster board, some colored sticky notes and a sharpie!! Check out this amazing tutorial for creating your seating chart.

I love that the sticky notes are removable so you can play around with different configurations. Keep in mind that you’re only assigning tables at this time. Assigning seats is optional, but not necessary in my opinion. You will have already given thought to how many can fit at each table, which chair isn’t too important and you can save money on place cards!

Photo Credit: Something Turquoise

Some things to think about when grouping your guests: 

  • Make sure everyone knows at least someone at their table. If they don’t, then consider allowing them a plus one.
  • Group people with similar interests or who you think would get along. On the contrary, be mindful of those who may not get along and keep them at separate tables, preferably on opposite ends of the room. 
  • Don’t place elderly guests near the speakers, they may not appreciate that, pregnant guests will love a table near the bathroom, and parents of young children will prefer a table away from the cake and the exits.
  • For the “life of the party” guests that you know will absolutely be on the dance floor, assign them a table in the back, since they probably won’t be sitting much anyways!!
  • Place shy guests near the dance floor so they are right in the action. They won’t have to go far to join the fun, and won’t be able to hide out in the back of the room.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix friendly and new faces. You don’t have to seat all your college friends at one table and all your work friends at another. Weddings are a great place to meet new people, so embrace it, and mix things up!

5. Breaking the Ice:

While guests are waiting at their table, it can often take a little time for them to warm up to one another. They may exchange names and how they know you guys, but after that, the conversation fizzles.

Why not introduce some conversation starters, a quick quiz or even advice cards. This gives guests something to do and an excuse to let loose and start conversations.

Photo Credit: Same Tomorrow

Moo is a print company that offers a really unique product called MiniCards. They are half the size of business cards, and perfect to use for conversation starters on your tables. This blog post shares some awesome ideas of how to use MiniCards for your wedding. This post is also really cool to see some other ways you can use these cards!!

Photo Credit: DIY Table Talk Cards

I hope that you have found these tips helpful. Creating a seating chart doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful.  It really sets the tone for your party and will instantly create a calm inviting environment where your guests will feel comfortable being themselves.

I would love for you to leave a comment below and tell us your favorite tips for seating charts. If you need help coming up with ideas leave a comment below!! 

Are you looking for a photographer to document your wedding day? Let’s setup a coffee date and chat details about your wedding. I can’t wait for us to connect!

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