Creating your wedding reception seating chart can be a tough task. This is a primary reason some couples decide not to assign seating. However, the majority people (regardless of what they may say) actually prefer to know where they’re sitting. It helps them avoid that awkward situation of not saving enough seats for the couple they didn’t really want to sit by, and saves your reception from having chairs tipped up on tables, saving spots.
Assigning seats at your wedding reception allows you to set things the way you want, making sure grandparents and close friends are able to see everything, placing your married friends with other married couples, and making sure your single college roommate doesn’t get stuck at a table with your aunts and uncles who are twice his age. And it doesn’t have to be that hard.
Here are a 9 steps to create your wedding reception seating chart.
1. Get Started Now
Don’t wait til three weeks before your wedding. Start planning now. You have a lot to do over the next several months. If you put off starting this one, there’s a good chance it won’t get done. As soon as you know how your reception venue will be arranged, start the process and get this one checked off your list.
2. Pick Your Layout
Some venues will only offer one way to set your reception up, but most will have a couple different options for where the dance floor goes, how your head table is arranged, where the buffet or dessert tables are, etc. Talk with your team (family, friends, bridesmaids) and pick the best layout for you. Be sure you and your partner are easily visible and the DJ is close to the dance floor, but away from the food and bar (nothing ruins a reception like a spill on the DJ table). Once you have your layout selected, you can start your chart.
3. Organize Your Guests
If you don’t already have a spreadsheet of your guests, you should make one now. You’ll want to use it for keep track of addresses, phone numbers, plus-one names, etc. Feel free to do this part by hand, but we recommend using a simple excel spreadsheet. Add a column title “Relationship”. Go through your list and categorize everyone by their relationship to you; friend of the bride, friend of the groom, bride’s family, groom’s family, bride’s family friend, etc. I always recommend adding one more column and labeling each with a sort of “status”; single, married, teenager, 20-30s, 40+. Both of these columns will allow you to easily sort your guests by common categories to help you see who makes sense sitting next to each other.
4. Create Your Tables
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is figure out how many tables you will need. Although most couples see about 75% of invited guests attend their wedding reception, make sure you have a plan in place in case everyone you invite can make it. Work with your venue or planner to organize the tables within your layout selection. Using your spreadsheet, label tables with category names. This will make it easy for you to go through each table and assign those who fit into similar categories.
5. Seat Yourselves
A traditional head table is a long table with you and your partner in the middle, your maid of honor and best man next to you, and your wedding party filling out each end. Typically the ring bearer and flower girl will sit with their parents. This is a fairly simple setup and most venues plan their layout options around this setup. A nice alternative is a sweet heart table for you and your groom to sit at a smaller table for two. Your bridal party would then sit at their own long table with the maid of honor and best man in the middle.
6. Don’t Forget Your Parents
The most common placement for parents is at a table together, often times with grandparents, siblings that may not be in the wedding party, and/or the officiant and their spouse. However, if either set of parents is divorced, you may want to have a separate table for each set of parents. This would allow each set of parents to sort of “host” their own table; including their parents, children, or a close friend or relative. The best route here is to discuss it with each parent and see what everyone is comfortable with and prefers.
7. Play Cupid
Your wedding reception is a great place for people to loosen up and meet new people. Feel free to sit some of your single friends with other singles they may not know. The atmosphere of your big day may inspire your shy girlfriend to ask your partner’s old high school buddy to dance. You never know who might hit it off. If you’re feeling like a matchmaker, this could be the best opportunity you have to set it up!
8. Keep Em’ Separated
I’d like to say that everyone will be so happy for you that no one will cause any problems at your wedding. However, some things never change and some people have a hard time letting things go. Be aware of friends and family members who don’t get along well or have clashing personalities, and be sure to keep those folks separated.
9. Forget Traditional
There is nothing that says you have to arrange your wedding reception seating chart like everyone else. Even if your venue has specific seating charts, don’t be afraid to switch it up a bit. You could put all your bridesmaids at one table, and the groomsmen at another. Maybe you and your sweetie live a few states away from your parents and want to spend dinner with them at the same table. Remember, it’s your wedding and your choice. Make sure you’ll be happy with your setup.
Creating a seating chart for your wedding reception may feel like one more thing to do, but it provides opportunities for you to make the night easier on your guests and, at the very least, you need to arrange yourselves and your wedding party, so don’t forget to plan for it and don’t put it off til the last minute. Checking this one off the list early will save you a huge last-minute headache! Use these 9 steps to make creating your wedding reception seating chart a little less stressful.