Photo by: BKB & CO
Wedding Reception

Seating Chart Nightmares Resolved

Between feuding family, single girlfriends, and guests who don’t speak English, creating the perfect seating chart for your wedding can be a real handful. Here’s a little info to help you on your way.

The Who

Formal Seating Plan Versus Free Seating

Yes, this is a choice. Having a formal seating plan is completely dependent on your personal preference and wedding style. Some guests don’t like to be told what to do, and if the meal is buffet and not plated or family style, you can simply provide enough tables and chairs, allowing people to pick their own spot. But if you choose to go with a more formal plated meal, then creating an official seating chart is necessary and will help ensure that no one feels left out.

Head Table Versus Sweetheart Table

There are no rules here; every couple is different. You may choose to sit alone or at a head table with your entire bridal party. Some couples even choose to sit with family and seat their bridal party throughout the room with their significant others.

Family Tables

You can choose to have the bride’s family and groom’s family sit together at one large table, symbolizing their new unity, but if the numbers don’t make sense, each set of parents can “host” their own table, consisting of their family members, the officiant when applicable, and other close friends.

Friends and Extended Family

The age-old question is whether to seat friends who know each other at one large table or to divide them up so they meet new people. We believe the best solution is to do a little bit of both. Seat some friends together while mixing in some new faces. Consider people’s personalities and do your best to seat accordingly. Have a single girlfriend you’ve been dying to introduce to your fiancé’s cousin? Take advantage of the moment and use the seating chart to play a little matchmaking.

Involve the In-Laws

If you have no idea where to seat your parents’ friends, get your mother and mother-in-law involved. Give them specific tables and the names of people you need sorted. Don’t stress; share the load.

The How

Escort Cards

Used most often, escort cards include the guest’s name and their table number. They are usually displayed at the entrance to the reception area so guests can easily identify them.

Seating Chart

A seating chart can be used in lieu of escort cards. Chalkboard or large frames on easels are often used in this application. Names are displayed alphabetically.

Place Cards

Place cards can be used in addition to escort cards or a seating chart. This simply means you’ll be actually deciding which seat at the table a specific guest will occupy. These are most often used when tables are large (72 inches round) or long (eight-foot banquets), and you feel it might be best to seat certain people closer to one another. This is not overkill and is often used as a trick for creating successful guest seating assignments from start to finish.

The Floor Plan

Request a floor plan that outlines table sizes and locations from your venue or wedding planner before starting your seating chart. This will help you be sure you’re placing the correct family tables near one another and so on. We also suggest not only printing out a master seating plan with names and table assignments, but also labeling how many people are assigned to each table on the master floor plan.

Wedding Reception