Do I Really Need Seating Assignments?Unless you are having a very small, intimate affair, seating assignments are a must. Imagine yourself walking into a crowded room full people and a handful of tables. You'll have to navigate through the room trying to find where your friends or family are seated and hope that their table isn't full. Would that be the type of wedding or even you would want to attend?
Or, picture your wedding reception without seating as your guests enter - what if your parents and/or close family are the last to enter and all the tables closest to you are full? How would you feel that all your dearest family and friends are scattered around the venue no where near your sweetheart table?
Don't create unnecessary stress for your guests by leaving the seating up to them.
Who Sits At The Head TableYou have a few options for your head table - either you can set up a table for your entire bridal party along with you (with or without their significant others), facing the reception or you can have just a sweetheart table and incorporate your bridal party throughout your venue. You could also place the grooms family on one side, the bride's family on the other with the couple in the middle. How you'd like to arrange this is entirely up to you.
How to Arrange The Layout of the Reception VenueTypically, the venue will have suggestions as to how they have planned weddings in the past. You'll want to keep in mind their suggestions as they are the best to know where the doors are to the entrance, bathrooms, kitchen as well as where the bar area and dance floor is. Speak to your caterer if they are open to alternate floor plans and see what they suggest. New trends in weddings use different types of tables including rectangular and square shapes - or mixing a blend of different shapes. If you are planning a layout from scratch you'll want the dimensions of the room and where all the exits and entrances are.
Assigned Seating vs Table SeatingThere are two different ways to assign seating for your reception. You can use escort cards to assign people to a particular table and let them decide where to sit, or you can use escort cards to assign a table and place cards to assign a particular seat at that table. While most weddings only assign tables, some more formal affairs may also assign actual seats. You can use place card holders or place card frames to accomplish this.
The Wedding Seating Chart: The Basics
- Parents, grandparents, siblings, close relatives and friends should sit as close to the head table as possible.
- Keep older guests seated away from the DJ or Band so they can converse and actually hear each other.
- Seat disabled guests closest to the exits
- Seat guests with similar interests and ages together
- Sit friends, colleagues and acquaintances close together so they are comfortable sitting together.
- Sit children and their parents together, alternatively if you are having a kids table, sit all the kids together.
- Guests making wedding toasts should sit close to the microphone stand
- Avoid sitting guests together that have a known conflict. If two guests are divorced, it is better to sit them at opposite ends of the room (but at equal distance from the main floor) so that they don't have to bump into each other unless they want to.
- If you have a large group of friends, split the tables up but put them near each other. If you split them across the room, one table is going to migrate around the other table to socialize, leaving an empty table as the evening progresses and many standing guests.
- Seat single guests as close as possible, but don't call it the "single’s table.” While singles do tend to get along at weddings quite well, some may not want the added pressure to hook up with a partner to dance. Mix your singles with young married couples.
Organizing Your Wedding Seating ChartOnce you have your guest list RSVP's and the reception layout use our printable wedding seating chart templates to start mapping out the plan.
To view and print our wedding seating charts you'll need Adobe's Acrobat Reader software on your computer. If you have a browser that supports plug-ins then these files may be viewable directly within your browser window.
Round Wedding Seating Chart Template
Square Wedding Seating Chart Template
Rectangular Wedding Seating Chart Template
Simply print out as many copies as you need and using a pencil or movable post it notes to assign people as you wish.
Project Wedding Seating Chart Complete: Now What?Once you have finished your seating assignments you'll want to get them to the caterer if you are planning a specific floor plan. However, your guests still need to know where to sit - there are two options to show your guests to their assigned tables.
An alphabetical seating chart is usually printed and framed by a professional printer. These are typically placed by the entrance to your reception. As guest enter they find their name in alphabetical order with their table number. You'll need to provide your printing company a list of names in order (tip: use an excel sheet to organize this).
Escort cards are your second option and most commonly used - people commonly refer to them as place cards. These little 2" x 3" tent cards ordinarily have a line for the guests name and a line for their table number. These cards may or may not be provided by your wedding venue. They are normally set up at a table near your reception entrance or at a table during your cocktail hour. Guests will pick up their card to know what table they sit at. (Tip: make sure the venue lines these up in alphabetical order so your guests can find their names easily) You can display them in place card frames or holders as an alternative to plain standing tent cards.
You'll need to provide these items to your venue before your wedding, typically a week or two before. Make sure all of your RSVP's have responded. If they haven't it is OK to call them now, after all you need a final head count. You wouldn't want anyone not to have a seat at your reception!