Wedding preparations are quite a challenge for a bride and a groom. Therefore, creating a seating plan for the reception can be tricky business and may will take some time. Luckily, you can get through it with sedateness and some good tips. So here they are.

While choosing the place for your celebration, you’d probably face the question whether to assign seating. Still and all, we are all adults, so shouldn’t the guests choose where to seat by themselves?

In this case the results of some surveys can come in handy and help you make a right decision. According to the polling, about 80% of wedding guests prefer assigned seating, either to the specific seat or to the table. Certainly, unassigned seating sounds like less work for you during the wedding preparations, but at the reception itself, it can turn into the chaos of 200 guests trying to choose their seats. Therefore, it’s your call.

Arranging the seats

So, if you decide to arrange the seats, keep in mind the main goal: the guests should have fun and the atmosphere at the wedding should be friendly and positive. The wedding is all about celebrating your happiness together but not about the endless guests grumbling.

Let’s get onto it. To start with, there are two types of assigned seating: assigned tables and assigned seats. If you do assign tables, you should provide the guests with the escort cards (the cards with the table number which they pick up at the entry).

In this case, it sounds like less work for you and guests can choose who they want to seat next to. As for assigned seats, you will need both escort cards and place cards, which are already on the tables and indicate personal seat. Which one you like is only a matter of taste.

The top table

Now let’s consider the top table. This is the place where the newly-weds sit during the celebration. The tricky question is: who should sit there? As an option, here can sit only the happy pair. Other option is to add your maid of honor and best man, or you can even assign seats for the parents. In this case divorced parents can be an issue. In order to avoid awkwardness, you’d better place them with their spouse at the separate tables.

Conventionally, there are various ways to organize the top table. Usually the bride sits at the groom’s right. Consequently, the maid of honor sits next to the groom and the best man near the bride. The other guests are placed in the male/female order. It is subject to other tables as well.

Placing the guests

Probably you are asking yourself a question: how to create a perfect seating plan. If so, I believe these tips would be worth mentioning:

  • try to group friends from different spheres of life: friends from school at one table, colleagues from work at the other, etc.;
  • married couples should be placed at the same table;
  • younger children should sit at the same table where their parents are. Although if you have a lot of children attending, you can consider the option of having “kids table”, that is near their parents. With regard to their age, you can put some pencils and papers to keep them occupied;
  • it would be good to place youth near the dance floor and older ones a little further away;
  • try to seat the guests in such a way, so the neighbours can have something in common. You should consider their age, character and world perspective. Of
  • course, it’s not easy, you will have to show your skill in psychology for it;
  • if the guests, seating next to each other, haven’t met yet, you have to get acquainted them before the wedding party;
  • if you invite foreigners for your wedding, make sure they are placed next to the guests who can speak their language;
  • if you have a number of paid attendees you intend to feed, like photographer, videographer etc, you can assign them to a separate table.

Table logistics

In this paragraph we will discuss some sub items: the size and shapes of the tables, their layout, seating charts, escort cards, table number cards etc.

Imagine your wedding party starts, all the guests have come and at this point you have to provide guests with all the necessary information. They need to know which table they are placed at, so they don’t have to spend much time looking for their seats. This problem can be easily solved by placing the seating charts or escort cards at the entrance.

Let’s try to get things straight. The seating chart shows each guest and which table they are seated at. They are easy to display. Basically, it looks like either the list of the guests’ names in alphabetical order with the number of their tables written next to, or the list of tables with the guests’ names. In this case, one can easily find out who else is seating with him at the table.

As an alternative, you can have escort cards. They are all placed on the table at the entrance and are inscribed with the guests’ names and the number of the table on it. Don’t forget to place them alphabetically so to deprive guests ‘the pleasure’ of seeking their card in the chaos of other guests’ names.

Both the escort cards and seating charts can be plain or you can choose different prints or decorate them with the ornaments or pictures connected with your wedding theme. By and large, use your imagination.

When the escort cards or seating charts are ready, it’s time to think of the next step – table number cards. The following points are necessary to be mentioned. First of all, these number cards are usually placed in the middle of the table. It should be large enough, so the guests can easily see the number without coming closer to the table. Still, make sure they aren’t too big so not to prevent guests seeing each other over the table.

If you want to make your wedding creative, you can use the table name cards instead of table number cards. The table names are various: flowers, colours, countries, capitals, animals, sports, your hobbies, cartoon/book character and many others.

Make sure, you don’t offend any of the guests with the table name.
Those who make their decision in favor to assigned seats, have to deal with one more issue – the place cards. They are used to make sure the guests are placed where they are supposed to, according to your wedding plan.

It can be simply tent-fold cards with the name of the guest on it, like “Mrs. Amy Smith” or less formal “Amy Smith”. Other options it to use your imagination and make them in a form of a flower, bird, etc.

If you have table name cards, you can use the theme of each table to make the cards different. You can place them on the plates and if they are in a form of a bird or flower, they would look great on the top of the glass.

Now let’s speak about the shapes of the tables. Here you can face two options.

We will start with round tables. The fewest guests you want at this table will be six. Placing less then this number of people will make an impression of oddly big and empty table. The ideal number is eight; it’s full, yet not crowded. There will be enough place for everyone to feel comfortable.

The other option is rectangle tables. You can place there six or eight people. The number of guests at the table depends on whether you use the end caps, the short side of the table. Once again, round tables or rectangle tables is only the matter of your taste.

Next task is to place the tables in the room where the wedding party is going to be. This brings up the question of layout. How many tables can you fit into place together in the room or hall, considering the issue of space?

The answer is easy – you need to leave a room the space for people to walk between tables, and to actually get in and out of their seats and, of course, there should be enough space for the waiters to serve meal. How you place the tables depends on the size of the room. Still, in the process of arranging the tables, pay attention to the top table, it should be visible and bride and groom should face all the guests.

And the last but not the least, that worth discussing is table decorations. It’s only obvious that the necessary items on the tables are crockery, cutlery and glasses. Still, you can decorate your tables using flowers, candles, ribbons, balloons, etc. If you have specific wedding theme, use it, think outside the box, and you won’t be disappointed with the results.

You can also consider disposable cameras at each table. It’s a great opportunity to record your event and have unforgettable and wonderful photos that will amuse and impress you.

In conclusion, I would like to say that preparing for the wedding party is not an easy task, it takes lots of time and efforts, and you have to deal with many things including the table seating plan. Still, don’t let it get you down. You’ve survived the rest of your wedding planning and this is just the last obstacle on a way to your happiness.

Decide what you want for your wedding party, make a plan and stick to it and, of course, follow the tips listed above. Try to involve other people (your bridesmaid, your fiancée or fiancé) then you’ll experience less stress and pressure. Also, it would be great to show your table plan to some guests or friends to make sure you’ve paid attention to all the details. The last advice: don’t forget what this fuss is all about and try to enjoy it.