I have been to wedding receptions where the couple chose not to have seating plans and I have also been to weddings where there were seat allocations. There is no wrong or right way to do it, however, there are pros and cons for each.
The pros to having seating plans is that you choose who you want near you. This means having designated, front row seats for your VIPs (e.g. parents, closest friends or family). Another pro to seating plans is that you can choose to sit groups of people together that will get along the best - ain’t nobody got time for drama at your wedding! Or maybe if you’re trying to set up two single people, seating them together might be the perfect way to go about it. One more advantage to seating arrangements is that it will be easy for the caterers to find guests with dietary requirements without delay in the food delivery - which can hold back your runsheet (see our blog post on runsheets).
The cons to seating plans is that many people find them an absolute pain in the butt to organise. They are time consuming, especially if you have a large number of guests at your wedding.
The pros to not having pre organised seating arrangements is that you don’t have to go through the headache of arranging the seating plan. However, the disadvantage is that people may be confused about where to sit and end up sitting separately to their families/ partners/ closer friends due to table size limitations.
A compromise is to allocate guests to a table number and then they may choose their own exact seat to sit in.
How To Create a Seating Plan
For my own wedding, I collected a whole bunch of scrap paper and stuck them together so that they were the size of a poster. On this, I drew out the bridal table, the table layout of the venue (they provided this to me) and where the DJ and photo booth would be. I then cut out little rectangular bits of paper and wrote names on them and used blu-tac to place the names around the tables to where I think people would enjoy sitting. With this method, it was easy to move the names around as the guest list changed. Call me old fashioned but there’s nothing more effective than the good ol’ pen and paper.
Some tips you may choose to follow:
- Seat your family and closest friends/ relatives close to the bridal table or dance floor
- Don’t sit the elderly near the speakers/ DJ table
- Put groups of people that get along well together/ know each other
- Have a kids table at the back and put their parents close by
Displaying Seating Plans
There are several options to display your seating plan so that your guests can find their designated table and/or seat.
- Name board - Printing off a seating chart in the form of a board allows your guests to self-serve and find their seat/ table. Should you choose this option, you would need to create one and then have it printed. Some ideas for printing include Etsy. You could also DIY.
- Some venues also do electronic display boards, you could ask yours if they provide this option.
- Have someone greet them near the door and check them off a list - Print off a list of names and which table they are seated at. Designate a trusty friend or relative (sometimes you may need more than one person) who can arrive earlier than all the other guests to help you with this one. Your helpers will find your guests name on the list and let them know where to go. For large weddings, this is particularly useful as there won’t be large crowds struggling to read a name board at the same time. This option also gives you an avenue so that people are able to leave their gifts at the table and also direct guests to sign your guest book if you choose to have one.
Organising a seating plan may be a hassle to some, but for others it can be an exciting part of wedding planning. If you choose to do one, make it a fun activity and involve your significant other, family or bridal party.
All pictures taken by Love Pixels.