Making a seating plan might not be on your priority list when you think about all the wedding details that need to be considered, but it can take you more time and energy than you may realize. It can also be quite stressful to make a seating plan where everyone will feel comfortable and welcome.
In this article, I‘ll share with you tips for how to make this process less stressful and easier for you.
1. Start with a Guest List
Even though you can’t make the seating plan before you make your final guest list, you can make a spreadsheet with groups in which you’re going to record guests’ RSVPs. For example, you can make groups like bride’s and groom’s close family, relatives, friends, or group by older guests, young people, children, etc. Having a groups of guests who already know each other or those who you think will enjoy time together because they have similar interests before you even start making a seating plan can save you time and energy.
2. Layout Your Wedding Reception Venue
When it comes to making decisions about what kind of tables (round or square) you want to have and how to place them in the venue, we always suggest that you ask the venue manager or wedding planner for advice. Most of the venues have prepared room layouts depending on the specific guest number, and can give you advice on what kind of tables would be best depending on your guest number and style of your wedding. No matter what kind of tables you decide to use, be sure that there is enough space between tables so people can walk between them and get in and out of their seats easily.
The head table usually comes at the front of the room. Traditionally the groom sits to the right of the bride. You can choose whether you want to include your parents at the head table or just members of your bridal party. Parents and close family tables should be next to the head table. Also, it would be good to put tables with friends and younger guests closer to the dance floor and music, and tables with older guests should be “quieter” tables.
We like to suggest to couples that, if the venue space allows it, they put the head table in the center of the room, and surround it with guest tables. In that way no one will feel like they are at the back of the room and less important and you’ll have better connection with all your guests.
3. Choose Between Assigning Seats or Just Tables
Assigning just the table can be fine if you have a smaller, less formal wedding, or a wedding dinner served on platters. On the other hand if you have more than 70 guests, more than 6 tables and a plated dinner, then we highly recommend to have assigned seats.It’s good to have assigned seats so that when your guests enter the reception they can find their table and be seated quickly and easily, and you’ll avoid stress and the rush of who is going to sit where.
4. Mix and Match
The biggest challenge and most stressful part of making a seating plan is to make a decision as to who is going to sit where. Here are some basic guidelines that can help you:
The closest table to the head table should be the table with parents and closest family and friends.
Send “plus one” invitations to those guests who don’t know anyone.
If you have single guests don’t put them all at one table so that they don’t feel that you’re forcing them to partner-up. However, don’t put single guests at a table with couples only because they can feel awkward and the third-wheel.
Small children should sit with their parents, but if you have more children, you can sit them all at one table, close to their parents.
Try to group people who are similar by ages, interests, or lifestyles, so they can truly enjoy their evening dinner.
Ivana Vukusic is one of a leading wedding planners from Wed Our Way . She and her team specialize in planning custom-from-scratch weddings, giving destination couples a flexible, stress-free planning experience that doesn't limit them in choices, but instead gives them more options and control over their wedding experience.