While assigned seating at a wedding certainly isn’t mandatory, most couples opt to create a wedding seating chart.
Assigned seats tend to make things simpler at any sit-down dinner affair—including your wedding reception.
To begin with, it ensures each table will be filled to max capacity.
And without assigned seating, especially for plated dinner service, things can quickly confuse the staff otherwise.
Many wedding reception venues require assigned reception seating.
Some wedding planning tasks are more accessible to cross off your list than others. But just because organising certain elements can be tricky, don’t assume that tackling them is downright impossible.
Take making a seating chart for your wedding, for example. Many find arranging their guests among their wedding’s reception tables a total headache, but it doesn’t have to be.
We’re here to walk you through exactly how to make a wedding seating chart.
First things first: Start devising your wedding seating plan about two to three weeks before the big day, once you’ve (hopefully) heard back from everybody you’ve invited.
To begin, you’ll need to scour your RSVPs and figure out who’s coming (A.K.A., who you need to seat).
Once you have that wedding seating list, you’ll also need to decide on a wedding seating layout—what types of tables do you want to have, and how will you arrange them in your reception space?
If you’re struggling to answer these questions yourselves, you can always consult your wedding planner.
You can also turn to other factors, like your budget and venue, to determine what makes the most sense in terms of furniture rentals and the likes. We’ve also got a few more tips ahead.
Deciding on seating arrangements for your wedding guests can seem overwhelming at first—and trust us, we hear you.
But once you get into the swing of things, it can be fun!
To help the two of you get started, we’ve created the ultimate guide to planning out your wedding seating chart. Looking for a wedding photographer in Melbourne? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of Melbourne wedding photographers to help you choose.
With these expert rules of thumb, you’ll have it (almost) figured out in no time.
How to Do a Wedding Seating Plan
Decide on Table Shapes
The first step in creating a wedding seat plan is to determine the best size and shape of the tables. Next, it will dictate how many guests you can sit at each one.
When it comes to wedding table shapes, there are four standard options: round, square, rectangle, and oval.
Before you start seating guests, you’ll need to have a game plan for your tables, generally, as the size and shape will dictate how many guests can be placed at each one.
When it comes to reception layout and table shapes, typically, there are four standard options: round, rectangle, oval, and square.
Different table shapes come with their benefits:
- Round tables: offer guests with more legroom; cost less to rent
- Rectangular tables: can seat more people and take up less space; best for conversation
- Square tables: gives lots of elbow room; can accommodate larger centrepieces
- Oval tables: looks elegant, and guests can easily talk to each other
If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of each table shape, Glamour has an informative article that gives you all the nitty-gritty details.
Keep Your Friends Close
A head table with your wedding party (and their dates, if you’ve got the room!) is a great way to acknowledge their unique role, as well as ensure your B.F.F.s surround you during the reception.
Are you opting for a sweetheart table? Have your wedding party host tables, instead. Seat them with their dates and a group of other mutual friends.
They should be seated at the third-best tables in the room: the first is your sweetheart table, the second-best table(s) are for your parents, and the third nearest table(s) are for your wedding party. (Near the dance floor, natch!)
Figure Out Where You Want to Put Your Parents
Traditionally, all parents will share a table at the reception, along with grandparents and any siblings that aren’t at the wedding party.
This gives everyone another chance to get to know each other and bask in the glow of your special day.
While all of your guests will be thrilled to be there and share in your celebrations, no one will likely be as thrilled as your parents—which is a beautiful thing for them to share.
Of course, things can get tricky when you’re dealing with divorced parents (or other more complex family circumstances).
If things are tense between specific vital individuals, consider having two equally close tables to the head table, and then put one at each table.
That way, no one feels uncomfortable or left out.
Another option: You can also consider seating them at the same rectangular table, but at opposite ends (and try to make the table long).
Enlist Your Parents’ Help to Seat Their Friends
If you have no idea where to seat your parents’ close friends, ask your mother and future mother-in-law (or whoever is closest to them) to help arrange those tables—they’ll be happy to be involved.
Generally, it’s helpful to involve your parents in the seating chart process. If there’s room at the family table(s), for example, they’re sure to have an opinion on what close friends or other extended family members they might like to have seated at their table.
And if there will be another family-and-friends table nearby, they may want to help choose those guests, too.
Organise Guests by Groups
Once you’ve finalised who’s coming, step one is to start grouping guests according to how you know them, such as family members, high school friends, college friends, work friends, etc.
This doesn’t mean you have to sit them according to the group, but a picture will form of who already knows each other and gets along.
In addition to grouping your guests by how you know them, you can also consider their age, interests, and backgrounds.
Try to make everyone feel comfortable by offering a mix of familiar and new faces at each table.
And, of course, be tactful: Avoid seating people together who have a history they wish they could forget.
Put Pen to Paper
It’s helpful to map out your seating chart. You can laminate pieces of paper printed with table shapes that you can label with dry erase markers or use an online tool.
If you prefer colour coordinating, divide your guest list into categories arranged by colour (your college friends might be represented with pink, his in blue, and family in yellow, for example) and write out everyone’s names on the appropriate coloured Post-it flag.
Then, arrange—and rearrange—them on photocopied outlines of your table arrangements.
Consider Making a Separate Kids’ Table
If you have several children as guests at your wedding, one strategy is to seat them together at a separate kids’ table, where you can even have engaging activities or crafts to keep them occupied.
And, while it might be tempting to put the babies in a corner, try not to put the kid’s table too far away from where their parents are sitting.
Younger children might get anxious when they look around and don’t see their parents anywhere (and vice versa).
On the other hand, if your flower girl and ring bearer are the only children present, sit with their parents.
Skip the Singles Table
If you’ve been dying to fix your old co-worker up with your cousin, you might take this opportunity to seat them next to each other discreetly.
But resist the urge to create a separate “singles” table, which might embarrass your guests.
Also, don’t seat your unmarried friend at a table full of married couples. Use your best judgement and try to be sensitive to guests’ feelings.
Keep the Venue in Mind
It’s easy to get caught up in who’s sitting where, but don’t forget to give your V.I.P.s the best seats in the house so they have a clear view of all the action and can jump into the celebration.
Also, older guests may want to be a little further from the band (and not near a speaker).
Guests in wheelchairs or those who need more mobility should be seated at tables that are either closer to one of the edges of the room or closer to the dance floor, so they’ll have plenty of space to maneuver as needed.
Seat younger guests dancing all night near the band or the D.J., so they have easy access to the dance floor.
Make a Digital Seating Chart
Sites make it incredibly easy to design a seating chart online. As a bonus, these sites have drag n’ drop seating options, which makes it so simple to arrange (and rearrange) to your heart’s content.
You can also customise the templates and try out different table options. AllSeated even has an extensive library of dimensions for actual venues; if yours is included, you can select it, and the dimensions will auto-populate.
In addition to customising layouts for tables and seats, you can add other space-consuming setups—such as bar locations or additional seating areas—to get a sense of how space will flow.
Or Create a Physical Seating Chart
For couples who would prefer to make a wedding seating chart that’s tactile, you can use one or more poster boards to create a physical layout you can play around with until you’ve found the right mix.
After you decide on what type of tables you want and where they’ll be located, sketch them on the poster board based on the dimensions of your venue.
To save many do-overs, keep things neat by writing each guest’s name on a Post-It and then stick (and un-stick) guests in different seating arrangements.
Another option: a large whiteboard and dry erase markers.
As an Alternative, Assign Tables Only
If you’re still not into an assigned seating master plan, why not consider posting tables—without specific seats—instead?
This way, your wedding guests will still have some direction but can make their own choices, too, and no one will be scrambling for seats when you’re about to make your grand entrance.
Just as you would with an assigned wedding seating chart, put thought into who you’ll be grouping together to make sure everyone’s got someone to talk to and will have a good time. Looking for the Best Photobooth Hires in Melbourne? We have compiled an exclusive list of some of Melbourne’s best photobooth hire suppliers to capture your special day.
If you forego assigned seats or tables, make sure your elderly guests always have a designated place to sit down.
Convey All Table Assignments Clearly
When it comes to telling your guests where to sit, the goal for wedding table cards or place cards is to find that sweet spot between creativity and ease of use.
Tented or envelope cards are the most traditional and can be arranged in various ways depending on the type of tables you’re working with.
Table assignment signs and charts can also work well.
Arranging guests’ names in alphabetical order (versus grouped by table) means they’ll be able to find their seats faster, instead of having to read every table arrangement on the list to figure out where to go.
Are they opting for one or two long tables for everyone? A diagram with numbered seats, accompanied by an alphabetical list of guests’ names and their seat numbers, will get them in place with ease.
A font that’s easier to read is always welcome for any signage.
The bottom line is that having a wedding seating plan, even if it’s just table assignments, will make your reception flow that much more smoothly.
Seat the Two of You First
As it’s your big day, your table should be centrally located.
Typically, you’ll sit at a table by yourself with your wedding party or with your parents and a few close relatives and friends.
You also have the option of sitting at a sweetheart table, which is reserved for just the bride and groom.
Then Seat Your Wedding Party
Depending on the size of your wedding party—and how many of them are invited plus-ones—you can seat everyone together at one long head table or divide the group among several tables situated near you and the groom.
Put Family First
After you seat yourselves, place your parents somewhere close (unless they’re sitting with you).
Unlike the ceremony, where the groom’s and bride’s sides traditionally sit separately, you can mix things up and seat everyone together at the reception.
Ask Your Parents for Help
The odds are that you don’t know every one of your parents’ friends as well as they do. So include them in the process by giving them a say about where their friends should be seated.
Find Common Ground
When seating remaining guests, consider their life experiences and interests. If you know your best friend, Rachel, is a hardcore hockey fan, you might seat her next to John, who played in college. Your ultimate goal is to create an atmosphere where your guests can have fun.
Avoid a Singles’ Table
Although love is in the air, don’t be tempted to play matchmaker and seat all single guests together.
It can be tempting to set up a co-worker with your cousin or your best friend with your partner’s sibling but resist the urge to create a separate table dedicated to singles.
Seating them next to each other will embarrass your guests and make them feel awkward around each other.
Instead, intersperse single guests among couples, focusing on shared interests, not relationship status.
Maybe your aunt and co-worker come from the same state? Maybe your best friend and future in-law watch the same Netflix shows? These are great conversation builders that keep people talking and genuinely enjoying each other’s company.
Bring Children Together
Kids like being around other kids, so a kid’s table, and similarly, one for teenage guests, is a good way for everyone to have some fun, parents included!
In terms of table placement, consider any special needs of your guests.
Grandparents will likely have a better time in a well-lit area away from the band and speakers within view of the dance floor, but not in the thick of it.
Get Creative Table Assignments
Once you finally settle on seating assignments (phew!), use the seating chart and table numbers as opportunities to get personal.
Whatever their form, arrange your guests’ names in alphabetical order with legible table assignments in a format that will guide guests to their seats smoothly.
Additional Tips to Creating the Perfect Wedding Seat Plan
Keep Your Friends Close
Have your friends (and their dates, if you’ve got the room!) near the head table to acknowledge their unique role in your lives and ensure you have the best time surrounded by your B.F.F.s. Of course, make sure they’re also near the dance floor to keep the party going.
Ask Help from Your Parents to Seat Their Friends
If you’ve invited some family friends, but you have no idea where to seat them, enlist the help of your parents.
They’ll be more than happy to help you arrange those tables and provide you with valuable advice.
For instance, if there’s still room at one of the family tables, they’ll know which close friends and extended family members are intimate with each other.
Keep the Venue in Mind
It’s easy to get caught up when creating the seating plan for your wedding, but don’t forget to give your V.I.P.s, especially your sponsors, the best seats in the house.
Let them have a clear view of all the actions so they can fully enjoy the celebration.
Additionally, seat older guests away from the speakers and a little further from the band. They won’t appreciate the noise as much as the younger generation.
If you have guests in wheelchairs or need more mobility, seat them near the dance floor or closer to one of the edges in the room so they’ll have plenty of space to move around as needed.
Assign Tables, Not Seats
If you aren’t sure who should sit beside each other, you can assign guests to a specific table and let them decide.
It’s less effort on your end, and people can choose who they want to sit next to. It takes the stress out of everyone.
How to Create a Wedding Seating Chart, Simplified!
There’s no such thing as a lousy seating chart for a wedding.
Planning a wedding can be stressful, but making a seating chart doesn’t have to be when using free table planning software.
No matter how you plan to arrange guests, keep these main ideas in mind:
Start with what you know. If there are religious elements to the wedding, there will be some helpful guidelines for who sits where.
Or if you’re certain grandma likes to boogie, make sure she gets a seat next to the dance floor.
Not everyone will be happy. But as long as the couple is pleased with the seating arrangement, that’s all that matters. Here at Brighton Savoy, we have compiled an exclusive list of Wedding Photo Locations in Melbourne to help you decide on your special day.
Choose safety over style. Keeping the tables a certain width apart or adding space for wheelchairs ensures that everyone is comfortable and well taken care of no matter what.