No matter how many people you are planning on inviting to your wedding meal, one of the biggest concerns for the bride and groom is the seating plan, and where all the guests are going to sit. Whether it’s a small wedding breakfast or a big reception, the guests will need to sit somewhere, but it needn’t be as difficult as you think.
You will of chosen your wedding venue based several different things, but one of the reasons will be it’s size, hopefully you checked on where the top table will be, and how many people can be seated on it, you may not have enough space for the entire bridal party, what with parents, best man, bridesmaids, ushers, so the first challenge you’ll face is working out who can sit on the top table, and who can’t.
The good news for you is that you don’t have to make any decision until a week or so before the wedding, things will change right up until the last minute, so creating a seating plan too soon will mean you’re constantly making changes to it. Plus there will be some people you’ve invited with a plus one, they may not respond with their guests name until late, so be warned that your seating plan won’t be done and forgotten about too early in your organising. Changes like guests being unable to get babysitters will and can’t attend unless they can bring their children could make a last minute drama, so be flexible and patient.
Of course, not every wedding will have a seating plan, if you’re organising a buffet reception it’s nice to allow people to find their own seats, it would create a more informal feel to your wedding. It’s a nice idea to have your guests mingling freely, and choosing to sit where they like, especially if you have families and friends who know each other already. However, if you’re planning a grander celebration in one of the many stunning wedding venues in Essex then chances are your guests will expect to find a table plan and place cards with their names on it.
Think about which option you’d like, and if you think that you’d prefer to keep it informal, then you may not even require a seating plan after all, this is an easy way out which could save you plenty of stress at a later date.
Should you decide to make your tables a free for all, make a nice fun sign to inform your guests when they arrive, something like “Meet our friends and family, please sit wherever you like.” Make the sign as personalised and attractive as you would do for your table plan.
Avoid upsetting people with your seating plan
Some couples plan a table for those guests who don’t really know any other people at your wedding, not only does this create an isolated table, it makes a difficult day for them too, so try and mix them up with other people who can introduce them to other wedding guests.
Don’t try and play match-maker on your wedding day either, creating a table with single people on it can make some people feel a little awkward, it maybe a romantic occasion but that doesn’t mean people are looking for a partner, they probably just want to be there to share your happiness. Although being able to say “they met at our wedding” when you attend their wedding in a few years time does make a great story!
Parents can either be the easiest or most difficult people to arrange seating for, if you’re lucky enough that both sets of parents are still together, and can fit on the top table, then it’s easy enough. However, if some have split up and bring their new partner, you don’t want to show parental preferences by sitting some on the top table and not others. The best solution is to sit them on the next table nearest to the top table, and if there are certain people who do not get along, place two tables close to the top table, and split them accordingly.
Mixing up the guests on your seating plan is a good idea, but remember you want to create a buzzing social occasion, some people will find sitting at a table full of strangers quite unnerving. The last thing you want are some of your guests leaving early as they are feeling a little left out.
Some couples like to have a children’s table, this is fine if the kids will stick to your plan, if they don’t they may end up running over to their parents and spoiling their meal. A good idea for a kids table is to fill it with party bags, loaded with items to keep them occupied, failing that, consider hiring a professional children’s entertainer. Also check, do you need any high chairs, and if so, does the wedding venue provide any.
Check and organise your seating plan
Check, double check and check again, make sure you’ve not missed anyone out, imagine how embarrassing that would be if your guests arrived at the seating plan and couldn’t find their names.
At larger weddings it’s almost inevitable that some people will let you down at the last minute, so our best tip for your seating plan is to attach each table list to the plan with velcro, this way if you’ve completed it and someone can’t attend, you can un-stick the table name, changes the guests, and re-attach your revised version without spoiling the whole plan.
If someone should let you down, don’t be embarrassed to call upon one of your evening guests and offer them the “promotion” of becoming a daytime guest. They’ll appreciate the thought and understand that you can’t invite everyone, trust me, they’ll jump at the invite if they can make it.
Get your seating plan to the venue a day or two before hand, and also email the coordinator a list of the tables and who is sitting where, just in case anything goes badly wrong with the seating plan, you don’t want last second issues trying to remember who you say where.
Think logically, how many times you have been to an event and your elderly relatives have moaned about how loud the speakers are, so sit them away from the noise if you have speeches planned.
Finally, don’t forget to make the table plan easily readable for the guests, timing is everything during your day, you’ll want everything to run like clockwork, so if it takes each guest 10 minutes to find their name on a large table plan written in a small font, you could take a long while to seat everyone, delaying the meals.
Good luck, and don’t get stressed about who sits where at your wedding.