The wedding ceremony is over and now to move onto the festivities. You’ve been looking forward to this day and planning for this party for anywhere from 4 months to 30+ years. Your friends, family, and their respective guests are all lining up to find their seats for food, dessert, treats, toasts, and good conversation. But where will they sit?
Finding the perfect (or almost perfect) combination of ages, personalities, and temperaments for the seating chart is about as tedious as tightrope walking across a pond full of snapping turtles. Not only are you handling a wide spectrum of characters but you’re throwing them all into an emotionally charged, culturally significant (AKA stressful) situation. This could be about as explosive as throwing bleach and ammonia into a bucket together to clean the kitchen.
Instead of worrying yourself silly with the “what-ifs” and night terrors of Aunt Evelyn in a knockout fist fight with your Elvis-impersonating best man Chuck, breathe, relax, and rest assured that you have all the answers you need for an easy seating arrangement layout.
First of all, decide where you want to sit. Traditionally, newlyweds sit at their own “sweetheart table” separated from the rest of the guests and positioned as the focal point of the room. However, modern day brides and grooms sit at a table with the wedding party and their dates. A few seats may be left empty to accommodate any visitors during the meal who want to stop by and mingle with the newly married couple.
Total up the number of guests at the wedding and decide how many people should be at each table. Consider how much room you have to work with and what shape and size of tables you’ll have. If you’re having trouble imagining the logistics of this, check out this Practical Wedding article.
Once this has been decided, the next step is to split up the guests as:
- Bride’s family
- Groom’s family
This can be done with color coded sticky notes, as suggested by Something Turquoise’s endlessly helpful article.
Now, your main job placing people is to be kind and considerate. It is important to facilitate conversation between strangers, but that’s not to say you need to force people into uncomfortable situations. Split up bride and groom’s guests equally among tables so that everyone has a comfort zone of familiar faces. Create a kids’ table if there are a lot of children, otherwise seat the kids with their parents or cousins.
Don’t place your single friends at a table full of couples, and don’t play matchmaker. Seat friends within close proximity of each other so they don’t feel stranded. And if you’re having a tough time gauging the personalities of extended family, involve the parents. The mothers of the bride and groom will usually take pleasure in assisting with this task.
It might take a few days. It might take a few weeks. It might take a few different pre-wedding events to see how well your guests will get along (think bridal shower, bachelor party, frantic DIY crafternoon sessions). You will be done with the seating chart one day. And remember, nobody’s perfect. It would take magic to create The Perfect Seating Chart so just cut yourself some slack. You did great.
Oh but wait, there’s one last thing. Now you have to figure out how to tell people where to find their seats. You have a few traditional options. The first is that you can have place cards. Set on the table in front of every place setting, you will designate the exact location of each and every guest.
The next option is to have escort cards and table numbers. A table in front of the reception hall will hold name tags with a specific number attached, guiding the guests to a general table. This seating arrangement allows a group of people to choose their own seats at an assigned table.
The last option is to display a seating chart. This will most likely call for table numbers as well to help guests navigate to their chairs. Whichever method you choose will be easily understandable by your friends and family.
Choose what is best for you. What fits your aesthetic and makes sense to you? No matter what, people will find their seats and have a great time celebrating with you. But don’t forget to ask for help and don’t forget that there’s no need to stress out about the seating arrangements. It will fall together beautifully.
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