Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Creating a Guest Seating Plan for the Reception

Filed under: Guest Seating,Receptions — Larry James @ 8:30 am
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Can’t everyone just figure out where to sit on their own? Yep! However, taking the time to develop a seating plan will reduce your guests’ anxiety of trying to find a seat. It also ensures that couples who want to sit together get to. With a little common sense, you can create a seating plan that will make almost everyone happy.

In order to prevent any confusion, arguments or stampedes on your wedding day, do yourself a favor and create a seating chart. Organizing a seating chart is best left until a few weeks before your wedding, after you know who will and will not be attending.

SeatingChartThe reserved tables, located near the head table where the bride and groom sit, is where the parents of both the bride and groom, the wedding officiant, and sometimes grandparents sit during the reception. The bride and groom’s table should be easily seen from anywhere in the room so all the guests can be witness to their expressions of happiness. Usually there are two tables reserved for family members and close friends. If parents are divorced, remarried, etc., each parent may also host his or her own table, smoothly diffusing any awkwardness or discomfort.

Not traditional? Mix it up a little with your seating plan, don’t worry about your guests being surprised. One of the things many people look forward to at a wedding reception is catching up with old friends and family. Make sure the people you are mixing have something in common other than just that they know you; they’re more likely to feel less discomfort if they’ve got more to talk about.

If you choose to invite the wedding officiant to the reception, be sure to let him/her know prior to the wedding and remember to reserve a place for him/her. Usually the seating chart is made up of RSVPs to the invitations and since it is not necessary to send the wedding officiant an invitation, often the bride and groom forget to add the wedding officiant’s name to the seating chart. That’s awkward! Now the wedding officiant has to ask where they want him/her to sit. Opps!

seatingchartEscort cards direct guests to their tables; place cards are displayed at each place setting. Make it easy for guests to find their table. A large seating chart if helpful. Put it somewhere where your guests can see it during the cocktail hour so there’s not a bottleneck when they get the call to enter the reception area. Hopefully they’ll look at it beforehand and know where to go.

Resist the urge to omit the seating chart in favor of placing the names on the table. It’s no fun for guests to wander around the room searching for their place setting. On the seating chart, the guest’s preference is listing the guest’s last name alphabetically which will help them find their table faster. Next, put the number or name of the table next to their name to make it easier to find. You can also choose to place name cards on the table telling them where to sit. Table assignments without a seat assignment is slightly less work for the bride. Never split the guests from their spouses or dates.

You could also have an escort card table where you display cards inscribed with guests’ names laid out alphabetically and each card has the table number and/or table name on it. Remember to check the spelling of all names.

There may also be situations in which certain family members just do not get along. You want to keep them as far apart as possible. Avoid putting guests on the same table as ex-partners, unless you are sure this is okay.

Younger children should be seated with their parents or, a kids’ table is a nice idea for the children who may be at the reception. This is fine if the children are mature enough to handle sitting by themselves. Otherwise you may want to seat them with their parents.

Younger people who love music and love to dance should be seated at tables close to the dance floor and the music makers, while older guests may want a quieter table for catching up with friends. It might not be wise to sit your alcoholic uncle right next to the bar.

Remember to consider special needs’ individuals who may have mobility issues. Such individuals should be seated near doors and restrooms so it’s easier for them to get around once the reception hits full swing.

For guest lists of under 50 or less, generally there is no need to have a formal seating plan. There are so many variable ways to seat the guests. Do a Google search for “Guests Seating at the Reception” to find the way that suits you best.

It’s smart to begin making your seating arrangements as soon as you receive the RSVPs. Allow for last minute changes and once you have your seating chart complete… let it go and focus on having fun at the reception.

BONUS Article: Get Sh*t Done: Seating Chart Tips
Guests: Reception Seating Nightmares Solved
50+ Eye-Catching Seating Charts
More articles about receptions!


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Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Check Larry’s availability.

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