I have heard countless times about how much everyone DREADS the process of doing seating assignments for their wedding. So much so that some brides even plan their day so that they don’t have to do this! In some situations it can be unnecessary: if you’re having a very small and intimate reception, for instance; or a dessert and cocktails soirée where guests will spend the evening milling around.
However, I’m here to say that if you are having any kind of seated dinner (buffet or plated) PLEASE do a seating chart! It will make your guests feel uncomfortable if they have to figure out how to find a seat on their own, especially your best friend from summer camp or second grade teacher who will not know any other guests in attendance. It will also upset your carefully planned timelines when it takes 20 minutes longer than expected for your friends and relatives to take their seats.
I know it can be stressful to think that you are responsible for where everyone spends their dinner, but Lisa from Anderson Green Events made some great points in her post here, so read that first before going on.
So, now that you agree with Lisa, me, and countless other experienced wedding professionals that assigned seating is the way to go, I’m going to give you some tips on how to go about this, so hopefully you won’t feel as overwhelmed! If you still don’t want to tackle it, hire a wedding planner like Five Grain Events to help you out! If you’re going to attempt on your own, plan to take an afternoon to churn this out with snacks and vino if you so choose 🙂
1) Purchase 2 posterboards and post-its of 2 different colors (use your wedding colors if that’ll make the process more enjoyable for you!).
2) On one of one poster boards, draw the number of circles/squares/rectangles you think you’ll need for your number of guests plus a few extra just in case. Put a letter inside each table (A – Z, moving to AA and so on if necessary). These don’t have to look like a seating chart just yet.
3) On the other poster board make some categories. Easy ones are Bridal Party, Bride’s friends, Groom’s friends, Bride’s Family, Groom’s Family, but feel free to break it down into further catergories (family, work friends, college friends, etc.) if needed.
4) Now, start writing down all the guests’ names on the post-its. On one color post-it (for these purposes we’ll call it pink) write couples and on the other color (say, green) write down single guests. As you write each guest or couple’s name, stick it on the poster board under the category that guest belongs to.
5) Once you’ve got all your guests categorized, start with the easy ones. Put the bridal party post-its on the head table(s), and you may have also decided with whom you want your parents to be seated. Then move on to others in any order. It’ll be easy to count how many you’ve put at each table because the pinks are 2 and the greens are 1. Since the post-its are categorized you won’t feel like you’re wracking your brain to figure out who should sit with whom!
6) Once you’ve moved all the post-its over, you’ll probably have some switching around to do but it’s much easier to do when it’s all laid out in front of you! And with the post-its you have a physical THING to move so you don’t have to worry that if you erase them from one table you’ll forget to assign them to another.
7) On the back side of the category poster make the circles/squares/rectangles again, but this time lay them out as you’d like them to be set up in your reception hall. Whether you’ve decided to do groom’s side on one half of the room and bride’s side on the other or another layout, you can move the already seated tables to their appropriate location within the room (younger folks closer to the band, and older relatives at a quieter part of the room where they can converse, immediate family nearby the head table, etc.).
8) The final step is to number the tables (if this wasn’t already done for you) in a consecutive order. It’ll make it easier for the servers and the guests to find their places. Now that you have everything the way you’d like it to be laid out, input all the table numbers into your excel attendance sheet.
VOILA! You’ve finished seating 🙂
Make sure to wait until as long as possible to actually write the table numbers on your escort cards. It’s likely that in the final days a few guests will cancel or be added on, and you want to make sure you have as much flexibility as possible to do that.
Do you have any other ideas on how to make the seating process simpler?