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Wedding Planning Tips: Making a Seating Chart

Tips to make the seating chart creation process (a little) easier

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You have the tablescapes designed, the caterer paid, and RSVPs are returning! Time to work on the seating chart! From etiquette to family dynamics, creating a seating chart can be frustrating, but it doesn't have to be!

First thing first, why would you need a seating chart?

Sometimes assigned seating is required by a caterer, specifically if you are having a plated meal. The preassigned seating can help staff avoid confusion while passing the specific meals out.

Other times, it is for aesthetic purposes. Assigned seating ensures that each table is occupied and that no table goes unused from too many place settings or guests moving chairs to other tables.

Perhaps some family members dislike another side, and keeping them separate is the goal. Regardless of why you might need to make one, they can be a hassle.

Luckily, we have many tips and tricks for creating a seating chart, and we want to share them with you!

Tip #1 - Keep Family and Friends close

The top question we get asked by our couples while working on seating is: Where do we sit and with whom?

This will depend on the venue space, your bridal party's size, and if you want privacy and intimacy during dinner.

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Photo by: Marissa Wood Photography.

Head Table:

Head tables include the entire bridal party- sometimes with their partners. The Bride and Groom sit in the middle facing the guest tables.

As for etiquette, when looking straight on, the Best Man sits left of the Groom, and the Maid of Honor sits to the Bride's right. Bridal party members can then be split by bridesmaids and groomsmen or mix and match.

Some couples want a grand head table but have a smaller venue or larger bridal party. In this case, we may recommend a U-shaped head table or a sweetheart table with a bridal party at a nearby table.

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Photo by: Miranda Jade Photography.

Sweetheart Table:

Sweetheart, tables provide the Bride and Groom with a tiny bit of privacy in that there are no direct people to the side of you. However, if you have a sweetheart table, you might struggle with figuring out what tables you should place family and friends on.

Depending on the size of the tables and the size of your family, a table can be dedicated to the Bride and Groom's parents and grandparents so they can sit together. Or, if you rather the families be separated, each set of parents sit at a separate table and be seated with their close family and friends.

Generally speaking, the Bride sits to the left of the Groom (right side when looking straight on).

Tip #2 - grouping your Wedding Guests

Once all the RSVPs are in and your table layout is set, start grouping your guests. An RSVP tracker can make this easy, but you can also create a spreadsheet.

Group guests first by their additional guests. For example, if Susy Q. is bringing her boyfriend and daughter, you would include all three in a single party. This way, you will know that they need to be sat together when placing them. If a guest only brings themselves, that individual is their own party.

Next, look for common interests. Maybe a few of the guests are from your partner's workplace. Sitting together at a table would ensure they have relationships with other table members.

Once guests are grouped by interests and parties, it is time to make the seating chart.

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Tip #3 - Visualize

Learning styles vary, but creating a physical seating chart can help visualize the space. We have seen clients using the poster board method (make a large table layout drawing and use post-its to represent each party/person), auto-generated seat assignment apps, and classic paper and pen drawings. Personally, we enjoy using a 3D model rendering or creating a visual with an app like Canva.

Begin placing parties with similar interests at tables together. Focus on the larger parties first and then work down to those who do not have additional guests. Often there will be a few tables with an odd number of empty spots that can be filled with these individual parties.

See the example below of a Canva-rendered seating chart.


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Tip #4 - Tables Vs. Seats

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Deciding whether to assign individual seats or just a table for your event is a matter of personal choice and depends on your catering preferences. However, assigning a table for a party instead of individual seats can reduce stress and give your guests more freedom to choose seats.

Photo by: Megan Montalvo Photography.

If you opt for assigned seating, providing a seating chart or escort cards for your guests is recommended, followed by place cards at each seat.

Tip #5 - Considerations

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While creating your visual, you may encounter certain areas requiring special attention. For instance, if there's a playground, you might want to place tables for kids near the exit to make it easier for them to access. We suggest adding tables for kids and even teenagers if there are several of them, but this depends on the available space in the reception hall.

When we assist our clients in planning layouts, we always ask if there are any ADA, requiremenDon'this is because some guests may need to avoid stairs, while others may require ample space for a walker or wheelchair.

Tip #6 - Don't Stress

We know, we know, easier said than done. But take it from us, once dinner is finished, the seating chart will no longer matter. Guests will dance, visit with friends, and hit the cake table.

Each and every person is there to Don'trate you and your partner! Even if not everyone knows each other at each table, they will have that in common.

Now, get to making that seating chart!

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Creating a seating chart and assignments can prove time-consuming, but hopefully, these tips will relieve stress.

Would you like extra assistance? For more wedding planning tips, make sure to give us a follow or Click Here to schedule a consultation with us!

Photo by: Amanda Lloyd Photography


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