Sometimes you need to get creative when it comes to having fun with wedding planning. After you’ve chosen your colors and centerpieces, partied with your pals and said yes to the dress, there are still a few logistical details that need to get taken care of. One of these details is the seating chart.
While casual cocktail receptions are becoming trendier these days, a majority of weddings still choose to do a formal seated dinner as a part of their evening. There are many reasons for this, including a proper platform for welcomes and toasts and providing a nice dinner as a way to thank your guests for traveling. When planning a formal dinner, it is customary to plan the seating chart as a way to help your guests socialize with ease during your event. This can include keeping your arguing aunts away from one another, trying to squeeze that last person at a table who won’t fit, or having no idea where to put your groomsman’s random date.
First of all, we highly recommend creating a seating chart for your guests.
EVERYONE will be happier.
There are many reasons to have a seating chart including:
1) Less awkwardness for your guests. Instead of Crazy College Roommate Joe ending up with Great Aunt Meredith, you can make sure that the college gang all has a spot reserved to reminisce while your family members are able to easily gaggle over how they remember you in diapers.
2) Waaay more efficient for your timeline. Trust us, there will be several things you’re going to be trying to cram into that dinner hour (welcomes, toasts, serving food) and at that point every small pocket of time available matters. If your guests know where they are going, it just allows you all to get to the food (and the late night party) faster!
3) The ability keep your rental count tight, and not end up with random empty seats around that you built “just in case” people weren’t comfortable next to each other and needed options.
So where do you even start? Half the tables are probably pretty easy – coworkers, parents and grandparents, cousins, etc. What happens after that though? Where do you put those four neighbors from your childhood or that couple from your mom’s book club? What about those family members that have been out of the picture for a while but now you’re both trying to repair relationships? Unfortunately there is no good answer, but there are steps that can be taken to make it easier.
It is absolutely okay to accept help.
If parents are helping to pay for the wedding, they may or may not be involved in the guest list as well. Feel free to ask their advice for those family members or acquaintances that you are not as close with. It’s likely that they will be happy to advise because they don’t want their own friends to feel weird either. In addition to getting help, also make sure that you are using every piece of knowledge at your disposal. You don’t need to put people together just based on blood or social relation. Are there three different couples that have all traveled to the same country? Perfect talking points. Got two or three study abroad friends who you haven’t seen in years? They’ll fit in well with your college gang. You’ll realize this seating chart thing is easier than you think!
Counterpoint – your guest list is likely composed of mature, friendly, adults… can’t they just find a spot and sit politely through one dinner? The focus is going to be on you and you’re probably providing them with plenty of free beverages, so what’s the big deal? To be honest, sometimes it isn’t a big deal. I’ve known a number of couples that have opted to not do a seating chart for various reasons: not enough time, not a high priority, guests all know each other, etc. While it’s not recommended, there are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to go this route.
The most important thing? Plan for a few extra seats.
As much as we hope everyone can just get along politely, your guests are human and there is bound to be some awkwardness if the only seats left for your college roommates after they grab drinks from the bar is with your partner’s boss or kid cousins. Extra seats (we usually recommend 5-10 depending on your attendance) provide a buffer when needed and won’t even be noticed in the long run.
Build some extra time in your schedule between inviting your guests to be seated and when they should ACTUALLY be in their seats.
With assignments your guests know exactly what they are looking for, but with open seating there will be a bit more meandering around to find a good spot.
We hope these tips help you feel a bit more prepared to take on this next step of wedding planning. It’s only a small piece in the grand scheme of things, but one that if done properly, can set everyone’s mind at ease. Good luck and have fun!