Seating arrangement hints and tips
The RSVP’s are in, the big day is on approach and the simple thought of your nearest and dearest being in attendance fills you with so much joy…until it gets to planning your seating arrangements.
At first, it seems simple – after all, how hard can guiding grown adults all present with a shared goal, really be? Welcome to one of the biggest pieces of the wedding planning puzzle.
You start to wonder, where will you place your wedding party? Will your families expect or require a front-row view? How about those work colleague who otherwise won’t know a soul?
Mapping out seating arrangements is a bit of a task, but one that can alleviate stress on the day when it’s well thought out.
Here are some hints and tips when it comes to your wedding day seating arrangements.
Speak to your venue co-ordinator or wedding planner and secure the floor plan for the space you’re hosting your wedding in. This will help in understanding the dimensions of the room, along with important elements such as where the bathrooms and bar are positioned. This too will allow you to begin considering where the dance floor and entertainment will fit in.
Table shapes and sizes
Will you sit your guests on long tables, round or square? Understand the table configurations and what kind of feel you’re going for at your wedding celebration, along with an approximate number of guests each setting can accomodate, is a good place to start. Once you’ve figured out how many can sit at each table, you can understand how many are required. It’s worth keeping in mind that your catering style will potentially have impact on this choice – consider shared meals or single-plated service, what will best suit your guest list, and the setting and the space required to make it work.
Wedding party table.
Traditionally the couple and their wedding party sat on their own table, however tradition no longer applies when wedding planning – it’s your day, your way. Consider whether you will all sit together, or be interspersed among your guests, there’s no right or wrong, but it’s good to make a decision on this before you start your seating plan. Key decisions can be made from there with regards to family, partners of wedding party members, and beyond.
Make a decision as to how guests will be seated. Will you allocate a designated seat, or will you give them a table number and they can decide how they are seated at the table? Perhaps you’ll opt for free seating, where everyone simply chooses where they will sit for the night? If your guests are invited to choose their own seats, your work here is done, as for the rest of you, read on!
Number or name your tables.
Pull out your floor plan and number or name your tables. This ensures your guests can identify the table when they arrive. Have your stationer design these for you. Some couples like to have fun with it and name their tables after places they’ve travelled, favourite festivals they’ve attended, or even songs that are special to them both.
Group your guests.
Get your excel spreadsheet out and group your guests into categories. Categories might be family, friends (think childhood, school, travel, university), work colleagues etc. Once you have these categories begin to break them down into tables according to the number of guests that can be seated. By sitting guests with people they know, it helps make them feel comfortable in each others presence.
Sensitivity and strategy.
While some tables might come together easily, at this point you may have to be a little strategic with your placement of guests for varied reasons. Be sensitive to relationships that might be fractured between guests (ie – divorced couples). Try to place guests with people they get along with to avoid any friction. While it might feel like a hassle, it will be worth it in the long run. At the same time, you don’t have to strictly stick to the categories you created when placing guests. Some guests flourish in a social environment so feel free to mix them through the tables and allow them to build new friendships along the way.
Consider the needs of your guests.
Now you’ve placed all your guests on allocated tables. Go back to your floor plan and start to map out where the tables will be placed. Guests with limited mobility might be better placed closer to the bathroom facilities, exits and aisles. Children might be better placed away from the loud music etc. Consider the needs of your guests so you ensure they are comfortable with the layout of the floor plan.
Seating chart design.
Engage the services of your stationer to create a seating chat that will be placed at your reception. This saves any confusion for guests as to where they will be seated for your wedding celebration and hopefully saves time when you ask your guests to be seated for the wedding festivities ahead, they can also be a beautiful styling component of your day.
Seating arrangements are not easy, but if you give yourself enough time and plan it all out in advance, it certainly is an easier experience. Ultimately, you won’t be able to please everyone, and that’s okay, it’s your day, your way.
Before the seating arrangements, a guest list needs to be in place. Need a hand creating the ultimate guest list? Here are our top tips.