Planning a Stress-Free Seating Chart Arrangement for your Wedding or Event
Organizing a seating chart is one of the most stressful aspects of planning a wedding or event. Great-aunt Linda is cranky and hasn't talked to most of the family in years and your sister wants to bring her new boyfriend, Hank. And that's just the beginning! Do you separate your family from your in-laws? Do you need a mix of men, women, young, and old? Where do you put the kids?
There's no need to dread the seating chart. Okanagan Event Rentals is here to help!
Step 1: Know the Basics
Know how many tables you will have, how many people each table holds, and how they will be arranged at the venue and if you can move them around or not. If there are sight barriers like pillars, be aware of them so that you can plan your seating chart accordingly.
If you are a visual person, it may help you to sketch out a rough draft of your seating chart on a piece of Bristol board and then print the names of your guests and cut them out into small pieces that you can use to rearrange on your board or write names on small post-it notes.
Step 2: The Head Table
This table may be where you and your wedding party sit, it could be for you and your family, or it could be a sweetheart table for you and your groom. This table should be visible by all of your guests, after all, they are there to celebrate your happiness and they want to see your giddy smile all evening.
A traditional head table arranges the wedding party in much the same way that they come down the aisle:
Bridesmaid – Maid of Honor – Bride – Groom – Best Man – Groomsman
If you would like to have your family at your side, you may do it in a few different ways. For example:
Sister – Dad – Mom – Bride – Groom – Mom – Dad – Sister – Brother
Son – Daughter – Bride – Groom – Son
A sweetheart table is just you and the groom. It allows for hushed conversations between the two of you during dinner and if you are tight on space or your wedding party would like to be with their family, this could be the option for you.
Step 3: Families of the Bride and Groom
The tables for your family should be the ones that are closest to the head table and offer the best view of the happy couple. Traditionally, the bride's family is positioned on the “bride's side” and the groom's family is positioned on the groom's side. If you have a situation with divorced parents or family who don't get along, you can always do multiple tables and also seat close friends, co-workers, and extended family at the tables to fill in any spaces.
There are no set rules, so if you want, you could even mix your families up a bit with both sets of parents at one table and grandparents at another, and so on.
Step 4: Your Guests
This is often where people begin to stress out. Take a deep breath; you're going to be fine!
Try to group people with similar interests, personalities, and backgrounds together. Don't put your conservative uncle at a table with your college friend who spent a year living in a hut, doing yoga in India.
Try and offer a 50/50 mix of familiar and unfamiliar faces at each table so that your guests feel comfortable and are encouraged to mix and mingle with new people. Don't feel obligated to group people by age, but be sure that the people you do put at a table can have a lovely conversation or make a new friend.
When it comes to singles and couples, be sure to mix them up and put 2 or more singles at a table with couples. There shouldn't be a single at a table full of couples and there also shouldn't be a designated “singles table”. And don't use this opportunity to play matchmaker. If you think your co-worker would get along with your groom's cousin, tell her as an aside and leave it to her to seek him out.
When it comes to kids, think about how many children will be coming and whether or not they are well behaved. If there are several well-behaved children, a kid’s table could be just right. Be sure to offer colouring books and activities and place their table at the back of the room but within eye sight. Alternatively, you could have children sit with their parents during dinner and offer a table at the back with activities to keep them entertained once speeches or dancing starts.
Step 5: Getting the Message Across
Whether you have each seat planned or you simply have table assignments, you've gone to a lot of effort to design a functional seating chart.
If you have assigned seats, consider having two spreadsheet lists at the entrance – one will have the tables listed with their guests beneath, the other should have guests arranged alphabetically with their table and chair number beside.
If you would like to use a clever table naming scheme, be sure to offer guests a number system or visual guide as well. Wandering around the venue looking for your name or for the name of the place where you proposed isn't fun. People should be able to find their seats with minimal effort.
Step 6: Relax and Break the Rules
Rules are meant to be broken. If every bridal magazine tells you not to do something but it makes sense for you and your guests then do it. Arrange your seating chart to encourage maximum enjoyment for all guests and remember – you can't please everyone, so don't stress about it. This is one of the happiest days of your life!