Putting the seating plan together is often one of the more difficult tasks that couples face.
All but the smallest of weddings will benefit from having a seating plan. It makes sure your guests get seated smoothly without having the chaos and awkwardness of choosing who to sit with.
Here are my top tips for making it easier to put your seating plan together.
You will probably have a number of guests who you know will definitely be coming. So you can start by thinking about where they will sit.
You don’t need to wait for all your RSVPs to come in to make a good start. And leaving it until the end to even think about it will put more pressure on you that you don’t need close to your wedding date.
You should also be able to work out the top table (if you’re having one) pretty early too.
Check with your venue
Make sure you know how many tables you can have, how many they sit and where the tables are situated within the room. Venues usually have a floor plan to share with you so you can visualise where your guests will be.
A good balance
Try to have a more or less even number of men and women on each table. Single sex tables can get quite loud once the drinks are flowing.
Think carefully as well about forcing people to mingle. Sitting someone with a full table of strangers can be difficult for them. Whereas if they at least know some of the other guests on their table, it’s not as awkward when they first take their seats.
If you genuinely can’t avoid this – maybe you have a friend from work who hasn’t met any of your other friends – then consider carefully who you sit them with. Make sure you put them with people who are friendly and will make an effort to include them in the conversation.
Allocate just the table?
For some weddings it may be enough to just allocate your guests to a table and then let them decide who sits where. But this won’t always work.
If you have large tables it could take your guests some time to work it out and their meals will be coming out before they’ve all found a seat.
In addition, if you have given your guests a menu choice, your venue will probably want to know exactly where each person is sitting for ease of serving the right meal to them quickly.
Pay extra attention to where you sit elderly and disabled guests, those with small children and any pregnant guests. Make sure it’s easy for them to get in and out if they need to during the meal.
Remember you don’t have to have a top table. Sweetheart tables are really popular, where the bride and groom sit on their own.
This can really help as well if your family situation would make the traditional top table difficult. Doing this means you can then sit your immediate family with larger family groups and avoid any awkwardness of separated couples being on the same table.
Start with the easy choices
If you have a big family group for example who need to sit together then start with them and build around them. Or maybe you have sets of people who you would never dare to put at the same table? Start by seating them at opposite sides of the room and then build up from there.
The practical options
Your venue should provide you with a printable table layout. I would recommend printing this off in as large a format as you can. Do an initial draft in pencil so it’s easy to change.
Another option is to write everyone’s name on a separate post it note and then group them into tables. This is a really easy way to test out different combinations but if you have a very high number of guests it might become a bit too much.
You may need several versions of your seating plan before you are truly happy with it. While it’s great to get your plan done early, I would wait as late as possible to submit this to your venue to allow for any late replies, changes to attendance etc.
Displaying the plan
You will want a version of your seating plan to be displayed at the venue. People then know straight away where they are to be seated.
There are lots of really pretty ideas for creating your physical plan. I’ll cover some ideas in a future blog. But in the meantime Pinterest is a good option for inspiration.
Don’t forget you also need to have place cards on the tables as well as table names or numbers so that guests can find their seat once they’ve checked the seating plan!
I hope this helps you to get started on your plan sooner rather than later…….
Remember I can help you with your planning – it’s never too late to ask for help (well after the wedding is probably too late!) but you know what I mean. Have a look at my planning services here and get in touch if you think I can help.