Your RSVPs are starting to trickle in. Now it's time to start working on your seating chart - but where do you begin? You'll need a few sheets of paper, a good idea of the table arrangements in your reception hall, and your guest list to get started. Keep in mind, your top priority is to make your guests feel as comfortable as possible and to avoid any potential disasters.
Photo: Monika Greenaway Photography
Do You Need a Seating Chart?
Unless you're planning an intimate wedding, a seating chart is a good idea to avoid confusion and to keep things running smoothly. An informal buffet-style reception is often manageable without seating assignments as well, as long as your guest list isn't too large. In most situations, however, a seating chart and place cards are expected.
Traditionally, the bridal table sits at the front of the reception hall facing the guests. You and your new husband take the seats of honor in the center, while the best man sits beside you and the maid of honor beside your groom. Continue to alternate between bridesmaids and groomsmen to fill the table.
The table closest to the bridal table is typically reserved for both sets of parents, the clergyman and spouse, and other close friends or relatives. Tables are usually seated alternating males and females with couples sitting across from each other at long tables or beside one another when the table is circular.
Remember, these are just traditions, not rules that must be followed. Some couples swap the traditional bridal table for a romantic table for two, while others include the maid of honor and best man's dates, parents, or even officiates and seat the rest of the bridal party with the other guests.
The Most Common Seating Mistakes
There's really no right or wrong when it comes to seating arrangements as long as your guests are happy. Keep these tips in mind to avoid problems:
- Don't sit some parents at the bridal table unless you can seat them all - including stepparents.
- Do assign guests to tables where they know someone, but
- Don't seat all of your guests with only people they've met before.
- Do pay a responsible preteen guest to ‘baby-sit' if you designate a children's table.
- Don't try to play matchmaker with your single guests.
- Do consider your guests personalities and interests while assigning tables.
Once you have a rough draft of your seating chart, you can put it away until more RSVPs arrive. Enlist the help of your fiancé or future mother-in-law to assign the best tables to guests you haven't met.