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: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.

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NOTE: All articles, “LoveNotes” and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Choosing Sides!

Brides and Grooms… Here are what two guests think about “choosing sides” at the wedding!

BridesSideWeddingWoman.net“At many ceremonies, all the bride’s friends have to sit on one side of the room and all the groom’s friends sit on the other side. That sucks, because sometimes you’re friends with both of them — how do you choose? That moment of indecision is just weird for me. Plus, one side is usually much less crowded and people sit there thinking, ‘Gee, the groom doesn’t have many friends.’ All of this can easily be avoided by just letting guests sit where they want.” — Angie, 35

I totally agree! Usually it works best if when the guest asks the usher, “Which side is the Bride’s side?” that they tell them to not choose sides, but pick a good seat on either side towards the front.

“There’s always that one table at the reception: The people kind of know each other but not really — or they’re all the extra people who couldn’t be seated with people they know due to space constraints. It’s always a random mix of cousins, college friends, neighbors, work friends, and distant relatives. The guests always know they’re the misfit table, and it’s always awkward to sit there trying to make conversation with these people you have no interest in. Lack of thought in the seating plan has one of the most painful, sometimes embarrassing, results for a guest who often wonders, ‘Why am I stuck behind a pole at a table with a bunch of strangers?'” — Megan, 27

I totally agree! (There’s an echo in here) 😉 Some brides and grooms spend way to much time on trying to put the right guests at the right table. It’s not likely that you will please everyone. I’m finding that more and more couples are opting for “open seating,” – letting the guests sit with whomever they want. AND there are times when it is important to select the seating for a guest, such as exes who need to be separated, or putting a shy couple with someone you know that will engage them in conversation and help them to feel like part of the celebration. There are exceptions to every rule. I recommend two table of “reserved seating” for the the mothers and fathers and their close family members.

BONUS Articles: Traditional & Non-Traditional Wedding Seating
A Bright Idea for Seating the Parents of the Bride and Groom

Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant 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 Cell: 480-205-3694. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles, “LoveNotes” and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Traditional & Non-Traditional Wedding Seating

Where the seating of guests and family used to be very traditional, today brides and grooms are looking for creative and meaningful ways to have their ceremony be different to allow their guests to have a memorable experience of their wedding.

Here is the traditional way of seating guests and family…

You may have been to weddings where an usher will ask, “The bride’s side, or the groom’s side?” Usually they would seat you based upon your choice. Typically in most ceremonies the bride’s family and guests sit on the left (when entering from the back), and the groom’s family and guests sit on the right. For Jewish services it’s reversed.

BridesSideWeddingWoman.netReserving the first two rows for immediate family is traditional and still very much the norm.

Consider a more non-traditional seating arrangement. You really don’t have to separate the sides. How about no bride’s side and no groom’s side? How about mixing it up a bit. I have been encouraging brides and grooms to tell the ushers – when asked, “Which side is the bride’s side?” to ask the guests to please fill the seats near the front first so the photos look more balanced. Some will display the sign asking the guests to choose a seat not a side near the guest entrance. Some couples prefer a more “free-for-all” approach to symbolize the joining families and friends.

Tradition says the parents of the bride sit in the front row on the left side and the parents of the groom sit in the front row on the right side.

When the couple walks up the aisle, the bride is usually on the left and whoever is escorting her is on the right. Once the groom takes his place next to the bride their backs are to the guests. In my “romantic” wedding ceremony after about 6 minutes into the presentation of the ceremony they are asked to face each other holding hands.

Here’s the problem I noticed. When the bride faces the groom, she is facing away from her parents and the only thing they see is her back. The parents of the groom can only see the back of the groom.

Solution: Seat the parents of the bride on the right side and the parents of the groom on the left side. I know, that’s not tradition, however the first time we actually seated the parents in this manner, both sets of parents came up to me after the ceremony to personally thank me for allowing them to see the expressions on the faces of their daughter and son as the ceremony was being performed.

If you like these non-traditional ideas, remember to tell the Wedding Consultant and the Wedding Coordinator at your wedding venue, otherwise tradition will most likely be the rule of the day.

My experience has been that most brides and grooms prefer a mixture of a little traditional and more non-traditional in their wedding. Old traditions are hard to break, but bridal couples must be mindful that just because something has been around for a long time, doesn’t mean that fashioning new rituals isn’t perfectly acceptable and perhaps even preferable.

Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant 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 Cell: 480-205-3694. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles, “LoveNotes” and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
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