Creating a seating chart for your wedding reception is sometimes the biggest headache of wedding planning. Putting good distance between ex-partners. Working out who will be able to hack Great Auntie Mabel’s ramblings. All this and doing the odd spot of matchmaking can end up feeling like a particularly difficult jigsaw puzzle.
But there are ways to make the process that bit easier. If you’re about to start on your wedding seating plan, take a look at our top five tips to help you along the way:
1. Use Table Planning Tools
A sheet of paper and some post-it notes may do the trick when configuring your seating plan. However, if you’re more technically minded you’ll find a host of handy table planning tools available online. They allow you to personalise a template with your particular table arrangement. Then you can start testing out different seating charts at the click of a button.
Photo by Ben Rosett
2. Mix It Up
Whilst no one wants to be sitting at a table where they don’t know anyone, it can be a good idea to mix up the usual groups a little. Have people sat at tables with some people they do know and some people they don’t. This will encourage your guests to mingle and really boost the party atmosphere as the evening goes on. Mixing your guests works particularly well if you match people based on their interests or personalities.
Photo by Terje Sollie
3. Ask for Input for Your Seating Plan
You may think that your mum will want to sit with your granny. Maybe you think your friends from school will all want to be together. Ask for their input when table planning. Their responses may surprise you and give you a little more scope for manoeuvre. If, however, their input just makes things more complicated, stick to your guns and do whatever is easiest for you.
4. Consider the Practicalities
Younger children should sit with their parents and may need a highchair. Older children can be sat at a dedicated children’s table. That is, if you feel they won’t get too rowdy without parental supervision! You should have a think about the requirements of pregnant, elderly or disabled guests. Speech givers should be seated where everyone can see them. Make sure they don’t have their back towards anyone.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Buck Tradition
A traditional top table can prove problematic nowadays as non-nuclear families are the norm. Perhaps your mum and dad are divorced with new partners. Maybe your maid of honour’s boyfriend doesn’t know anyone else at the wedding. Don’t be afraid to rewrite the top table rules. You can do away with the top table altogether. Perhaps opt for long, informal trestle tables where there are fewer distinctions between the wedding party and guests. Assigning tables but not seats is another less traditional option. This can save you time and allow your guests a bit more freedom over where they sit.
It’s easy to become mired in seating chart dilemmas but try not to overthink it. Your guests are coming to your wedding out of love for you and your partner. As long as you put in some thought to avoid serious personality clashes, they’re very unlikely to cause a stink over where they’re asked to sit.