Everyone gets an invite to a wedding at some point. This is the opportunity to dress up, have fun and watch friends and family get hitched.
Part of what makes a wedding enjoyable is well-thought-out seating arrangements. This gives guests a good view of all the happenings whether vows, cake cutting or dancing.
Good and orderly seating arrangements make guests glad they honoured the wedding invitation. This aspect of wedding planning needs to have attention and be made a priority.
Creating seating arrangements is one of the hardest tasks when planning an event. It is even more daunting when the event in question is a wedding.
Want to host your guests and create seating arrangements like a pro? Want your guests to have beautiful memories of your wedding? Want to leave them with a lasting “wow” effect?
Planning your own wedding? Have a planner? Seating arrangements need not be rocket science.
Below are 7 helpful tips to make the process of seating guests at a wedding reception easy.
Tip 1: Ensure You Have a Reception Seating Chart
Seating charts enable couples and their wedding planners to work on seating arrangements. The charts rely on receiving RSVPs and finalized guest lists.
Having a seating chart creates room for smooth and orderly seating. It provides comfort and puts wedding guests at ease.
The host can amend a seating chart during the reception if the need arises. Cupcake graphics lists four benefits of having a seating chart.
- Seating charts are orderly and simple
Nowadays, we live in a digital world. There are apps and sites for almost everything including creating seating charts.
Sites like the hello bureau and foam boards provide seating chart services at a fee. They guide clients towards seamless seating arrangements. One can go online and have a seating chart within minutes.
- They are unique and personalised
A seating chart is unique to every wedding. This gives guests unique experiences at the wedding. It is also done according to the taste of the couple.
- In some occasions, they are better than place cards
Having a seating chart relieves guests of having to go around the venue looking for their names. It also saves time, as they’ll know exactly where to go once they arrive.
- The couple can keep them as a wedding memory
The seating chart will remind the couple of all the guests who came to their wedding.
Not all wedding receptions need to have seating charts, though. In some instances, the charts are not necessary. Some of the exceptions from bridestory include:
- Guests not sitting down for a meal during the wedding reception
In some weddings, couples opt for informal receptions, such as cocktails. These do not need seating arrangements.
- Intimate weddings with few guests
In such small weddings, the guests know each other pretty well. They can sit together without needing a seating arrangement.
- When space is limited
If you have many guests and limited space, you can opt for a standing party. It is definitely unique as well.
- Irregular seating layouts
Irregular seating includes hay bales, couches, rags/blankets and palettes among others.
Tip 2: Determine your Preferred Table Arrangement/Style
The table arrangement style of choice determines seating arrangements during the wedding reception. The type of food and number of guests attending is a determining factor.
There are a variety of reception seating styles
- Long table
This is one of the “traditional” seating methods. It allows guests to mingle at the wedding. To make this work well, it is better to use chairs as opposed to benches.
- Assigned by table only
Assign guests a table, but they get to choose their seat at the table. This works in a banquet/restaurant-style seating arrangement.
- Assigned by seat position
This arrangement seats the guests according to their preferences. This keeps guests happy but takes a lot of time and effort. This is especially suitable for small, intimate weddings.
- Free seating
This option allows guests to sit anywhere they want. It provides them with an opportunity to mingle and network as they attend the wedding.
- Kids-only table
Reserve a table for the kids. They can eat and do kiddie activities as the adults focus on the wedding reception.
The main idea is to have a seating arrangement at your reception. You can impress guests and keep them comfortable at the same time.
Tip 3: Number or Name the Tables
Ensure that you number the tables at your reception. This enables the guests to identify their table with ease.
You can use numbers or even names. For the names, they can have meaning to the couple like countries, towns and other interesting ideas.
Tip 4: Group the Guests by Relationship
Guests attending the reception have different relations and attachments to the couple. They also have different relationships among themselves.
Group the various guests according to the relationships they have with each other. This ensures they are comfortable during the reception. A few things to keep in mind:
- Determine where the bride and groom will sit
- Sweetheart table
- This table option sits the bride and groom at their own table
- The traditional table
- In this seating arrangement, the couple sits with their parents on either side
- The modern table
- This table option is trending where the bride and groom sit together with their bridal party
- Place the parents
- Will both sets of parents sit together?
- Will they sit at separate tables?
- Are the parents divorced?
- Do their divorced parents have a partner?
- Let parents help sit their friends
- Focus on the various guests
Give priority to the various guests in the room. This includes family, friends, workmates, schoolmates and all other groups.
Placing guests in groups gives them an opportunity to enjoy each others’ company and catch up. For example, high school buddies may be present and want to catch up on each others’ lives.
Tip 5: Be Strategic and Sensitive
Being strategic is like grouping guests according to various groups. Sit them with people they know or who have similar backgrounds, like career groups, etc.
Avoid seating people who have trouble getting along together. Put them at different tables. Also, avoid having a few single people with many couples at one table.
Mix guests so they can network and make new friends, while at the same time enjoy themselves at the wedding.
Tip 6: Consider Age Needs and Limitations
The guests in attendance have various needs requiring attention. For successful planning, it is important to take care of the needs of all guests. Some important things to remember:
- Keep the closest family seated near or next to the wedding party.
- Seat the much older or elderly guests where they have ease of access to exits and aisles.
- Seat children or moms with children away from the blaring sounds of the speakers. This applies to elderly guests, too.
Tip 7: Get a Second Opinion of the Seating Arrangements
Work with close family and friends for a second opinion of the seating arrangements. This will enable them to give input over any gaps that may arise.
It also provides an opportunity to see any wrong seating placements. Close family and friends have a better knowledge of the majority of the wedding guests.
Bonus Tip: Take Into Account Seating Arrangement Etiquette
Wedding reception seating arrangement may seem like a walk in the park, but it needs a lot of keenness. Giving it the attention it deserves ensures guests are as comfortable as possible.
To be a successful host, take into account seating arrangement etiquette. Below are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while working on reception seating arrangements.
- Mix up various guests with various personalities together. Spread out the “socialites”, as they add life to the room.
- Determine where to place your DJ, band, cake, food and other important services first. Proceed to seat guests once this is clear.
- Seat younger, more energetic guests by the dance floor. Seat elderly guests away from the dance floor.
- Leave extra space for guests with wheelchairs and crutches.
- Always work with a floor plan and choose tables and chairs in sizes that fit the room.
- Have a kids table if there are more than 10 kids at the wedding. Consider having activities for when the kids get bored. Consider having the wedding in a venue that accommodates kids.
- Leave a few seats free at random spots within the room to accommodate last-minute guests who may have not RSVP’d.
- Make seating arrangements by hand. It is strenuous and can lead to confusion.
- Make your single guests uncomfortable by seating them with married guests. Also, do not make the table with single guests attract attention.
- Make guests uncomfortable by placing them with people they do not get along with.
- Do the seating plan in a hurry. Take ample time to be able to capture everyone.
- Do not separate the couples at the event.
- Procrastinate. Do the seating plan/chart early to avert confusion.
- Forget that there may be slight hitches. Do not let this affect the day.
Finally, take into account that it is not possible to please everyone during the wedding. Do the best you can to achieve a seamless seating arrangement.
Keep in mind that slight hitches will happen. When they do, take it with a pinch of salt and eat life with a big spoon.Final Tip: Double-check the venue and ensure good quality food and beverage linen is available.