Wondering how to get started on your seating plan or considering not having one? We hear you; it can be tempting to forgo a seating plan especially if you are feeling overwhelmed. We’ve designed your go-to guide to creating your wedding seating plan to make it a whole lot easier!
What are the benefits of a seating plan?
There are several! First off, it helps keep things organised. Rather than having 80 odd people vying to get a seat close to the bridal table/bar/bathrooms/outdoor area, it is so much easier to have a plan of where everyone will sit. Without a seating plan, you may find random single seats left at a table where those who don’t get in first to nab a seat will end up sitting apart from their partner or friends.
Your caterer will be thankful for your seating plan. It helps them to easily identify any guests who have special dietary requirements. If your guests are pre-choosing their meal, a seating plan is essential.
Photo credit: Anna Hart Photography
You might want to consider family politics, friendship dramas and other interesting dynamics within your guest list. Your seating plan will eliminate the likelihood of people sitting together who you would rather didn’t!
Ok, how do I get started?
First off, you need to decide on your table shape. Depending on your venue, you may have a choice, or your table shape may be set. Either way, ensure you know your table shape first and how many people can be at each table. You will find pros and cons for all shapes of tables. Long trestle tables are better to fit more people into a space, guests are able to chat easier too. Round tables offer more leg room for guests and are often the more traditional option. You’ll also need to know how many tables you will need for your guests.
Photo credit: Mandy Caldwell Photography
Next think about if you intend to have a head table and who will sit at the head table. Will you go for the traditional option of having the bridal party all at a head table or opt to forgo a head table all together? Maybe a sweetheart table for you and your partner is something you are keen on.
After you have thought about the head table, it can be a good idea to then think about where parents will sit. If you are keen to stick to tradition, you can seat your parents together with other family members. Depending on the size of you and your partners families, you may opt for one table for parents or have them on separate tables. It is common for immediate family to sit closer to the bridal table. If family dynamics mean you would rather not have your parents sitting together, it’s perfectly fine to seat people where it will avoid stress or conflict.
How about the rest of my guests?
For the rest of your guests, hopefully their RSVP’s come in on time (or even early!). Go through your guest list and start to put people into groups. Note – these groups are not necessarily the groups that will sit together at a table. These groups can be extended family, mutual friends, work friends, family friends, friends from other groups.
From here, you can start to think about your tables and where you might put people. You can definitely use good old pen and paper to do this, Excel can be handy and post it notes are great too! Depending on how many people you can seat at each table, start to allocate the names around ensuring you seat couples together. You’ll want to think about how comfortable people will feel on the table, if they are able to chat easily, if there are some common interests they will share. It’s a good idea to ensure each person has a familiar face on their table.
Photo credit: Libby Ellmers Photography
Other things to consider
Do you have people with mobility issues? Make sure you are keeping enough space for them at the table if they are in a wheelchair, and ensure they have easy access to bathrooms, outdoor areas etc.
Don’t seat all your single friends together on one table. This can be embarrassing for your friends and likewise try not to sit a single person on a table full of couples! It’s also a good idea to consider if you have anyone coming to the wedding who will be on their own and not know anyone. You could try and introduce them to others at their table ahead of time, or sometimes in these instances, allowing them to bring a plus one can be a really good idea.
Got kids coming to the wedding? Getting kids to sit quietly through a reception can be a big ask. If the kids aren’t too young, consider a kids table where they can all sit together. This can be an awesome idea to keep younger ones entertained, add some colouring in books, wee games, food etc. and have it close to areas where they can play and have fun. The parents will be so grateful!
If you don’t want to go as far as deciding who sits where on a table, you can always just do the table plan and let people choose where on the table they will sit. Still important to think about who will sit with who and maybe take some time to ensure your elderly family members or important guests have a dedicated seat.
The actual seating plan
You’ll need to decide if you are going to have your seating plan printed as a large sign for your guests and if you will use name cards. If you just use name cards, keep in mind it may take longer for guests to find where they are sitting as they will need to wander around all the tables to find their place.
Seating plan created by The Event Boutique
When it comes to your seating plan sign, make sure the font is easy to read so guests can find their name without too much difficulty. And ensure it is placed around the venue so it’s easy for guests to find ahead of the reception time. You want to avoid a bottle neck of guests coming into the reception and slowing things down.
If all else fails, remember the time people will be sitting is actually not that long. So, if you are starting to stress about the seating plan, know that there is unlikely to be a seating plan that works for absolutely everyone and people will be up and moving around before long anyway!
Hopefully you’re feeling prepared to tackle your seating plan now, if you need some help or have questions, get in touch, we love to hear from you!