Once you have received all your RSVP’s back and you know exactly who is attending your wedding the fun and games of putting together your seating plan begins. Below we outline our top tips for putting this together and review some alternative layout styles, because well …………. its fun!
Your seating plan is a task that can’t really be allocated to your planner, they can give you advise but at the end of the day you are the only people who know your guests and are therefore best suited to carry out this task. Make sure both of you are involved in putting together the seating plan, this way you can both consider who should be sitting beside each other and hopefully save half the time in doing so.
If your parents have invited guests it is a good idea to allocate tables to them and have them decide who sits beside who at their tables as they know them best.
Break with tradition, it’s your big day so do it your way, rather than having your parents, celebrant etc at your top table include just the two of you and your close friends which will more than likely include your bridal party. This allows you to allocate a table to each of your parents who can sit with their own friends and guests and you can all really enjoy each other’s company.
Start with the top table, after all you are the two most important people on the day so it is important you are happy with everyone sitting at your table.
Try to not separate guests who have attended together, we have witnessed this at a few weddings and have yet to see it prove a success.
We would always advise keeping young guests together. This will allow you to arrange entertainment or colouring paraphernalia for them in an allocated spot and give their parents some light relief while they enjoy the celebrations. Your venue may also have a TV where your younger guests can watch movies or cartons. They key here is to keep them as happy as possible for as long as possible. A table close to an exit is always a good idea too for a quick getaway incase one of your younger guests does not feel like keeping quiet.
Always consider peoples personal circumstances such as older people being located too close to speakers, divorced or separated family members etc.
We would suggest four to six weeks before your wedding is a sufficient amount of time to start planning your seating arrangements. As soon as your RSVP’s arrive in add the names to the list for the seating plan, small efforts like this along the way can make the task more enjoyable.
Don’t segregate singles ….. nothing worse than knowing you’ve been allocated the singles table while all the other couples gather around their tables. More than likely your single guests will know other people at your wedding so it would be our advice to put them at the same table as people they know.
While we advocate not separating couples we do believe in trying to evenly allocate the number of males and females at each table. Try and keep similar age groups together too.
Don’t stress too much over it, at the end of the day you are only asking these people to sit beside each other for a couple of hours, once the meal is over they will be all on the dance floor mixing between themselves.
Always consider how many people can fit at the tables. Here is where your wedding planner or venue will be able to advise you. Don’t try squeeze too many people onto the one table. For starters, its uncomfortable for your guests but also it may cause service problems for your venue.
We always think the best way to decide on your seating plan is to draw out your tables on a large piece of paper (don’t worry nothing too artsy!) and with little post-its allocate place settings. You can even use different colour post-its for the grooms’ guests and the brides guest. Visualising the tables in this way is always a good idea.
So now that you have our top tips on putting together your table seating plan here are some helpful tips for alternative layouts:
1. Form an orderly line ………..
Visually this one always gets a ten out of ten from us. Not always easy to do but with a small party in a gorgeous hacienda courtyard or outdoor setting this one is a winner for us. Centre pieces look stunning in a long continuous line making for the prettiest of pictures.
2. Big circle, small circle
Often the shape of your tables will be determined by the venue. Venues where you are bringing in your own catering company allows you more flexibility on the table formats. Notwithstanding this most venues will offer you round tables, if you wish to spice it up a bit why not ask if you can have a mix of small and large round tables. The variety will be visually very pleasing and may help you with dealing with odd numbers.
The straight lines of square tables is always a pleasant visual change for your guests. Again, this is probably a table arrangement your venue can work with you on as they will have square tables for twos and fours which can be combined to allow for up to twelve people sit. This table formation allows for a generous table centre if that is the look you are going for. Do bear in mind however that this will not be a standard linen shape so you may have to factor this into your budget.
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