How to Conquer the Seating Chart Beast
It’s 3 weeks out from your wedding. The RSVP date has come and gone. You’re still trying to hunt down any guests who haven’t responded and your venue and caterer are breathing down your neck for your table layout and seating chart. Meanwhile, your soon-to-be spouse is asking why you even need a seating chart. “They’re grown-ass adults Can’t they just pick their own seat?” And your mother is reminding you that Aunt Barb and Uncle Tom are going through some sort of insane drama right now, and they need to be at different tables. And can you even fit your 11 college friends and their dates at the same table? I mean, how the hell are you supposed to know? You’ve never done this before, and you pray to God you’ll never have to again.
Sound familiar? I get it. The seating chart is a bitch. But it’s a big part of your final to-do list, so let me give you a few pointers.
Do I HAVE to assign seating?
Brace yourself, because you might not like the answer. There are very few cases where open seating works. If your guest list is under 100 and/or you’re having a cocktail styled reception, you might be able to do without a chart. But in most cases, yes. You gotta do it.
Because your family wants to sit close to you on this special day. Because your friend Ted came alone so you might want to make sure he can sit with someone he knows. Because couples might have to split up if there aren’t two seats at one table. Because there’s always those people who decide to take up a whole damn table even though they only need half of it. Because while one or two “grown-ass adults” are capable of finding their own seat, 250 “grown-ass adults” can be more like a heard of sheep.
Does that mean I need to assign a seat for every. single. person?
HELL NO!! In most cases - I’m talking like 99% of the time - assigning tables is enough. Exceptions to this rule are very formal weddings. Also, if your table layout involves long rows of tables (banquet style), then assigned seating might help eliminate any potential confusion.
Place Cards vs. Escort Cards vs. Seating Charts
These are all ways of letting guests know where to sit and is a great opportunity to get creative! But what the hell is the difference?!?
Place Cards name cards are used to mark each person’s place at a table. These are what you use if you wish to assign exact seats.
Escort Cards inform guests of their assigned table (and meal choice, if applicable) are are traditional located on one central table. Guest then take their escort card with them to their table.
Seating Charts are essentially large lists of every guest’s name and table assignment.
So how many people can I put at one table?
Of course, there are endless possibilities for seating, but these table sizes are the most common you’s see:
60” round seats 8 - 10 people
72” round seats 10 - 12 people
6’ long seats 6 people (or 8 if you need to use the end caps)
8’ long seats 8 people (or 10 if you need to use the end caps)
OK, I’m ready. Let’s do this thing.
If you done even the most basic google search,I’m sure you’ve seen the post-it method of seating where you right each guest’s name on a post-it note and then stick them to paper plates or pieces of paper representing each table.
Hot take, y’all: I hate this method! Too many pieces of paper to loose and too time consuming. In the final stretch of wedding planning, do you really want to be writing out each guest’s name and cutting strips of sticky notes?!? Here’s what I recommend instead:
Break your master list down into logical groups (family, friends, coworkers,etc.) and then sub-groups (your family, your partner’s family, college friends, childhood friends, etc.).
Take your floor plan (make sure you know how many people each table holds) and assign each of these groups and sub-groups to tables, starting with most important (typically family) closest to the couple.
Make adjustments for any special considerations. Put dancers close to the dance floor. Pregnant ladies will be forever grateful for a clear path to the bathroom. Kids should be far away from any exit to the outdoors.
Run your seating plan past your parents, if you can. A second opinion when you’re waist deep in last-minute details is incredibly helpful.
Update your guest list with you seating assignments. Then let it sit for a day and look at it again with fresh eyes.
And you’re DONE!! YAY!!!