You hear stories about the drama. You have experienced being seated at awkward tables at weddings. You try to avoid this part of the planning, but at last the day has come: The Dreaded Seating Chart.
Luckily, as someone who considers herself
fairly highly organized, I have some tips that can hopefully help make this process…well, if not fun, at least slightly less dreadful.
1. You’re not ready for the seating chart until after your RSVP deadline has passed. So there’s one good thing. This item can’t even be on your to-do list until the RSVP deadline, and the grace period after that, has passed. Call everyone you haven’t heard from (or deputize family and bridesmaids to help) and get your final guest count.
2. Hopefully someone has been keeping track of RSVPs, but if not, this is a good time to start. Open a spreadsheet and list each person’s name, first and last, in one column. If they require a seat, they get a row in your list, so be sure to include the unknown +1’s (e.g. Jane Smith and Guest of Jane Smith). This will also help with making escort cards, etc. down the line.
3. Open a second spreadsheet and start listing a table across each column, left to right. We had 12 tables, so 12 columns.
4. Add counts below each column/table. If you have 10 seats-per-table, you can use this formula below each table so that it will count up the number of names in each column/table:
That formula means “count the 10 seats, minus the blank cells in rows A3 through A12.” So if you have 8 of the 10 seats filled, the formula says “two blank cells, 10 seats minus 2 blanks = 8 seats filled”.
Too complex? Just glance across each row as you go to make sure all the tables are filled up the same amount. You don’t want seven at one and thirteen at another.
5. Now start playing around. Begin with The Wedding Party – immediate family and bridesmaids/groomsmen. Drop them into slots. Then fill in – maybe his aunt and your godparents should sit together. Your cousins and his college roommate. More tips:
5a. At each of our tables, I tried to make sure there was at least one familiar face for each person, or at least a shared interest. This wasn’t always possible, but that attempt meant that everyone would have a “comfort zone.”
5b. In an ideal world, you’d also mix things up a bit. This group gets together for dinner every Friday night? Chances are they’d like to see some new faces around the table tonight. Mix up the families, mix up the friends. Your natural groups will find each other at cocktail hour, during the dancing, etc. but dinner is a time to intermingle.
5c. Keep spouses and +1’s together. They don’t have to sit next to each other, but the Mon Amye school of etiquette says they should at least be at the same table. A helpful way to do this is to colorblock pairs in your spreadsheet by shading the cells or the text, that way you’ll notice if you move one without the other.
5d. Anyone you’re on the fence about – think they’re gonna bail? #traitors lol
It may be tempting, but don’t seat them all at the same table. Spread them out, so instead of one empty table you have one extra seat at each of 10 or 12 tables. It gives the impression of a full room even though you’re missing a few guests, and gives everyone some elbow room to enjoy the meal.
Photo credit: Kahl Weddings
6. Rearrange to your heart’s content. It’s not over til you say so! I highly recommend sleeping on it and revisiting a day later.
7. Once you feel good, the final thing is to set the locations of the tables in the space. For instance, your Table #1 might be both of your parents, but the caterer/venue might have Table #1 as the closest to the kitchen doors. Not good! Get a diagram from the caterer and have them number the tables according to their system. Then you can just change the numbers at the top of your columns to match where each group should sit. No one really cares if they’re at Table #25 when its the best seat in the house. More tips:
7a. Immediate family centrally located. Chances are Mom and Dad have a lot of familiar faces in the room and they’ll want to be accessible to visit between tables.
7b. Wedding party at front / near the front if you’re doing a Sweetheart table.
7c. If your wedding party is at front, consider putting their spouses and +1’s nearby so they can visit during dinner.
7d. Party people near the music source! (and it almost goes without saying – if anyone is hard-of-hearing be sure they’re as far away as possible so they can actually have a conversation!)
Once the table locations are set, you’re done. Whew! You’ve been thoughtful and considerate of your guests, and now its just up to them to toast to your wedding day!
Photo credit: Kahl Weddings
Just joining Wedding Wednesdays on Mon Amye?
Catch up here:
Week 1: Announcing: Wedding Wednesday series
Week 2: The concept
Week 3: Hair
Week 4: Oscar 2014 Red Carpet Inspiration
Week 5: Irish Blessing
Week 6: Oscar 2014 Red Carpet Inspiration for Mothers of the Bride
Week 7: A Checklist for Choosing Wedding Favors