Think it’s worse than playing musical chairs? Take a deep breath and relax! Having all kinds of guests at a wedding can be difficult if you’re planning the seating charts. Where do you start and how do you assign people to different tables? Here’s the lowdown on how to plan your reception seating arrangement:
Keep it separate or Mix it up?
When you have guests from back home, work, college, associations – and all over – trying to group people together seems tough. Think about this and keep it simple. You know your friends and family best, do you think they’d be comfortable sitting at a table with strangers or would they prefer known faces? Some couples choose to keep families together at a table, work colleagues at another and school friends together. Or you can place equal numbers of both at each table. The latter requires more planning as you want your guests to enjoy each other’s company too. Also, it’s best not to put a young couple bang in the middle of a table set for your older relatives or parents’ friends. Be careful when it comes to mixing age groups.
Use RSVP cards to confirm numbers for seating. Also bear in mind that some people will call or email their confirmation. It is a good idea to keep one book or sheet aside to account for every addition and subtraction from the initial guest list. Be sure to ask for specific numbers to avoid embarrassment if a significant other shows up, without being accounted for. If you have invited families, ensure you have the final head count before you assign tables.
Write it down
Placement maps are available with most reception planners and venue staff. Once you have the table and chairs put down on paper, it is easier to assign people to different tables. If Monica from Friends is your planning guru, then you may assign chairs but that seems like too much trouble. Assigning tables is good enough in most cases. For the people you can’t quite figure out where to place yet, create a small column on the sides of the sheet and add names there till you add them to some table. Once assigned, cross the name off your list.
A head table is usually for the bridal party and you must assign who will join you at that table. Fuming Aunties and disgruntled cousins can be avoided once you make it clear which near and dear ones make it to the head table. It’s always pleasant to have their significant others seated somewhere close by so that they don’t have to wander too often to be with them. Weddings are about togetherness, after all!
Names or numbers?
Designing the seating plan, do you assign tables according to numbers or according to names? In both cases, the place cards should be legible. If your reception venue is spread across a large area, it might be useful to place a mini-map at the entrance to guide guests in the right direction. When using names, use specifics especially in cases of people with similar last names. Mr and Mrs Sharma won’t help much when half your family shares that last name! Numbered tables are usually easier to understand and follow, provided you arrange your tables in a logical order. There’s not much point placing table number 1 at the north end of the venue while table number 2 is in the south. Keep it simple, again!
Kids and Teens
Small children are comfortable being close to their parents and this works well at receptions. Seat children near their parents so that the parents can have them within visual range at all times. For older kids and teenagers, you can place them at separate tables where they’ll most likely get along. Again these tables should not be too far off from their parents’. Young adults can be assigned regular seats like other adults present there.
There are times where you have to exercise caution while assigning tables to your guests. Those two cousins who can’t stand each other? Or two friends who no longer date each other? All those tiny details make a difference. Avoid awkward moments and discomfort by not placing warring parties at the same table! Use your discretion is selecting tables for people you know don’t get along. While you will not be able to keep them apart all evening, it’s a tad easier when your guest doesn’t bump into his/her ex at the same table!