One of the most complicated and daunting tasks of planning the wedding reception is organizing the seating arrangement of the guests. With family drama, different friend groups, and etiquette issues dictating the table assignments, there can be a lot to balance and consider when completing this task. However, it is usually well worth your while to diligently consider the comfort of your guests while taking on this project.
Do You Need a Seating Arrangement?
YES. Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes…in my opinion, anyway. If you are having more than fifty guests, it is usually expected that a seating arrangement will be provided (unless you are having a social, cocktail-style reception without seating for everyone). It can be awkward for guests to wander around in search of available chairs in an area & group that they’re comfortable sitting with. Having the seating chart will ensure that all of your guests feel at-ease as they enter into your reception. They will realize that they’ve been placed at their table with intention-making them feel like you’ve thoughtfully taken care of them throughout the evening.
Reminder: If you are having a cocktail-style reception, remember this: Don’t have any assigned tables. It’s okay to reserve a table or two for the family, bridal party, and elderly; however, you really shouldn’t make escort cards for some people, and not for others. If a few guests are “assigned” a seat, and others are not, you could hurt feelings and send the wrong message to those without designated seats. Instead, just put a “Reserved for Bridal Party” or “Reserved for Family” sign on a few tables, and leave the rest as temporary seating for guests to “touch-and-go” throughout the evening. Having a sign upon entry into the reception that explains your seating (or lack of seating) plan will help guests understand that they’re suppose to mix and mingle all night long!
Where Should My Bridal Party Sit?
This depends on the size of your bridal party, including their guests (spouse, children). Having them sit with you & your spouse at one large table is a great way to acknowledge their important role throughout the entire event. However, if your bridal party is too large to make that happen, you can certainly assign them to designated tables that are reserved for bridal party members only, placed closely to the sweetheart table. It’s nice to group the bridal party together-in one way or the other- to unify the members of the wedding that are closest to you.
My Example: I have ten bridesmaids & ten groomsmen in my upcoming wedding so one large table will not be an option for us. However, I have arranged that my “groom-to-be” & I will sit with our immediate family members, and our bridal party will be sitting together at nearby tables.
Things to Consider
-Divorced Couples & Exes
As much as you’d like for everyone to “play nice” for a few hours, this is not the time to force the issue. Nor is it the appropriate time to make assumptions about how peaceful other people’s relationships are. If your family has dealt with divorce, it is a good idea to let each person “head” a different table, in order to make everyone feel comfortable.
Although it is a good idea to primarily keep friend groups seated closely together, it is also a fun way to introduce friends that you’ve always wanted to meet! Place people together who have similar interests & backgrounds, and be thoughtful about where you would want to sit, if you were that person.
-The Floor Plan
Make sure that you are familiar with the location of each of the tables that have been set on your floor plan. You want to take walls, pillars, and balconies, into consideration when placing each group at their designated table. If there is a balcony, that could be a great place to put young groups of friends; if there is a pillar or wall, make sure that the tables in that area still have a visual on the rest of the reception area. Knowing your space will help you to accommodate each table in the best way possible.
Get to Work!
Now that you have the advice, it’s time to get started! The best way to tackle this is to get out your post-its (one color for the groom’s family & friends/one color for the bride’s family & friends), so that you’re able to visually place and relocate people interactively, with ease. Put each name from your guest list on a post-it and begin grouping people together into table formations. Before you know it, you’ll have the perfect plan for your seating arrangement!