Weddings can be super fun to plan, but they also have their stressful parts. In all of the weddings I've photographed, or been a part of, the number one complaint I hear is seating charts. It seems to be the most stressful part of the planning process. While I can’t promise to make the creation of your seating chart painless, here are some tips I’ve learned over the years that might just make it manageable.
DON’T OVERTHINK THE SEATING CHART
For the most part, your guests are going to sit at their tables for a max of 90 minutes, out of the entire event. Ideally you'd like to think everyone has someone at their table they like, and no one is seated with someone they can't stand. Don't stress over the most perfect groups ever at each table. Everyone will have plenty of time to hang out with whoever they wish. Obviously this is a bit different if your wedding has a six-course meal that takes three hours. In that instance, you want to work a little harder on making great groups. However, if you have any guests who won't know anyone else at the wedding, that's a perfect opportunity to seat them in places you may have difficulty.
ASSIGNING SEATS VS. ASSIGNING TABLES
More often than not, weddings today assign guests to tables, but not specific seats. The only exception the the multi-course plated meals. If you do end up with doing both assigned tables and seats, you'll need both escort cards (the ones that are picked up at the reception entry, like in the photo above), and place cards (which are the cards actually on the table, and assigned seats). If you choose just the assigned table, you only need escort cards or a seating chart. You can forgo using the individual escorts and go with a list of people's names and the table number on it (seen in the photo below). The advantage of the chart with the list of names, is that the cards won't get lost!
WHERE DOES THE COUPLE SIT?
The sweetheart table has become pretty popular these days. They're helpful for certain situations; divorced parents who don't get along aren't forced to sit together, nor do you have to choose which one to sit with, and your party can sit with their loved ones. If you don't like the idea of a sweetheart table, there are a few different options. You and your partner can sit with both sets of parents, or you can have a table with your wedding party.
GET THE LAYOUT FROM THE VENUE
Before creating your seating plan, you should get a copy of the floor plan from the venue. You might even want to make a few copies of it so you can experiment with different arrangements to see what will work best. Then, use technology! There are so many wedding apps and sites that can help make planning and tweaking the seating arrangement easier, such as Wedding Deluxe and Wedding Wire.
HAVE A KIDS TABLE
If you’re having a few kids at the wedding, designate a kids’ table with crayons, coloring books, etc. to keep the little ones occupied. However, if you’re only having a flower girl and ring bearer, then simply seat them with their parents.
Don't be afraid to turn to your closest friends and family for input and advice. You might be surprised to learn who they'd rather sit with. Also, think about mixing up groups of friends and family. Blending people with others they know, and people they don't know but whom you feel they would get along with, could be great. It's nice getting to know other people, and makes for great conversations.
Lastly, just remember to relax and have some fun. Your wedding is about love and fun. And, a well stocked bar can go a long way ;)