For many couples, the reception-seating chart is one of the most difficult last minute tasks. An already difficult job, due to late RSVP’s and the fact that no one likes puzzles, can be made even more difficult by a lackadaisical groom. “Yeah, babe. That looks good.”
Ring, ring it’s your mother-in-law calling to tell you the seating chart is all wrong. “Paul cannot be next to Birdie, because she dated his sister’s friend and dumped her. Uncle Herald can’t hear and Aunt Edna yells, so they must be at the same table.”
This trouble begs the question, should you even bother assigning tables?
The answer is yes, and here is why:
1. Guests expect to be told where to sit. Most guests attend weddings with the understanding that they will have an assigned table and/or seat.
2. Without a seating chart, more tables and chairs are needed because tables won’t fill up. Like the empty seat on the bus next to the stranger…no one wants to take it.
3. Assigning guests to tables helps with the organization and delivery of plated meals.
4. It helps with the overall organization of your reception and as a result, the timeline.
Situations when a seating chart can be forgone:
1. Reception is more intimate with fewer than 50 guests
2. Cocktail party-style reception where guests mix and mingle individually
Assigning specific seats versus tables:
1. Only extremely formal affairs warrant specific seats at specific tables.
2. Assigning guests to tables only is perfectly acceptable.
3. If you include specific seat settings, you must have both escort cards and place cards.
4. For ease and peace of mind skip the place cards and utilize escort cards or a large seating chart listing everyone’s names and tables at the front of the reception hall.
1. Group guests according to how you know them: family, friends, co-workers
a. Then create subgroups: childhood friends, high school friends, etc.
2. Set younger guests closer to dance floor and older guests further away. Older guests typically like to talk with those at the table, which is made easier if they are further from the music.
3. Enlist your mother and mother-in-law for placement of their friends. No one knows better than a mother.
4. Avoid a “singles” table. Save the setup for a casual run in on the dance floor.
a. Similarly, don’t stick singles couples. The lone ranger will not appreciate it.
5. Designate a kids’ table if you have multiple children at your wedding. If you only have a ring bearer and flower girl, seat them with their parents.
As you start receiving RSVP’s, place the name(s) and food preference into a spreadsheet that has categories. For example: family, friends, in-laws, co-workers. Develop a second page of that spreadsheet that has table numbers and how many people can be seated at each table.
After the RSVP deadline, sit down with your fiancé, mother and mother-in-law and start plugging in names. By having everyone there to do it at once, you avoid a ridiculous number of email exchanges and having to recreate it over and over again.
Do not allow the seating chart to become a source of conflict. At the end of the day, everyone is there to support you and your loved one regardless of whether they got stuck next to Uncle Herald.