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Who Should Sit Where? The Art of the Seating Chart.

We've all been there. You finally sit down to make your wedding reception seating chart only to be influenced by the options of Aunt Edna, your mother and your sister. Who is supposed to sit where? Will they be happy there? What do you do with someone who isn't bringing a date? All your questions answered in these helpful seating chart tips.

Often times the most daunting aspect of planning a wedding is the seating chart and most would say it's the least fun! Luckily there are three main ways to seat your guests: Open Seating, Assigned Seats or Assigned Tables,. Your choice will depend on how much time and effort you want to put into the seating, what your venue requirements are and how the family dynamics may influence who sits where.

Open Seating

The first options allows guests to sit wherever they please. This can get tricky because guests tend to need some direction when attending events at places they have never been before and people may want to sit in specifics groups that are larger than the number of chairs placed at each table and move things around that they shouldn't. I recommend reserving at least two tables in the front of the room for immediate family and bridal party to ensure that they don't get stuck in the back of the room and instructing the venue or catering staff that if guests ask to move things around they should not be allowed to. There should also be a welcome sign at the reception entrance instructing guests to find a seat to that little bit direction all guests need. The seating is designed to organize the meal portion of your wedding and that is really the only time guests are confined to their seats, so there is really no need for them to stress about reorganizing the whole room on the day of your wedding.

Assigned Seats

The second options is the most detailed and requires quite a bit of organization. It is perfect for the family who has any major negative dynamics and provides a plan for the least amount of drama on your special day. Assigning seats leaves no room for questions or flexibility so you can ensure no unwanted guests have come and the reception room stays neat and organized. This can be displayed for your guests two different ways:

1) With a seating chart that displays guest names listed under or next to each table number with name cards also placed at specific seats on the table they were assigned.

2) With an escort card table at the entrance of the reception with name cards that display both the guest's first and last name and the table number. These are organized alphabetically so guests can easily find their name.

Name cards may also be required for plated meals with additional dietary restrictions and food choices displayed for the banquet staff to determine who gets what meal option.

Assigned Tables

The third option is my favorite and offers the perfect amount of direction and flexibility. Assigning tables can be made on a single displayed seating chart and can be done in so many different ways: a painted board with liquid chalk, vintage mirror with calligraphy paint, printed foam boards designed on a computer, open frame with string, clips and paper, and the list goes on! I've seen couples get the most creative with this option, so get on Pinterest and look up 'creative seating charts'. A single board or display makes it easy to change names around last minute, visualize who is sitting where and allows guests to sit wherever they want at their table making this my favorite option!

Your final RSVP cutoff date should be no less than a month prior to your wedding and there should be very few cases where a guest is still be deciding or can't give you a definitive answer on whether or not they are attending your wedding. Once a final guest count is given to your venue and/or catering company that number should not change and you can then make your seating chart to ensure enough tables, chairs and linen are ordered. Make sure you pick the seating option that is the best fit for you and remember if people don't like where they are sitting, it's YOUR day!

Happy planning!


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