How do you come up with a seating chart for two families, five schools and four states? Good question. I’ll let you know when we figure it out.
I figured that this would be one of the most difficult parts of the planning process, behind getting everyone to actually put their RSVPs in the mail. With a little coaxing on Facebook, that crisis was mostly averted. Give or take a few stragglers, we got our numbers relatively quickly, without Christian’s head exploding.
Obviously, we had to wait until we received all of our RSVPs until we could start planning out the seating chart. Sadly, everyone we invited cannot attend. Fortunately, that gives us more space to plan and decide where things are going to go, such as the dance floor, the gift table, the photo booth, etc.
While the first thing your guests do after arriving at the reception is find their seats, it’s not a bad idea to keep the seating chart relatively close to the front door. One wedding we went to used their book theme by writing their place cards on old library cards and filing them in old drawers from a library.Several weddings I’ve attended didn’t have seating charts, which puts stress on the guests to rush and get a seat with everyone else. Inevitable, someone gets left out, so I feel like it’s just easier to tell people where to go.
Some graphically inclined couples have used anything from subway maps to the periodic table and infographics. This couple’s seating chart even pulled double duty, serving as a map of the venue. Instead of using the traditional paper, card stock or even a window, add some fun by writing everything out on a chalkboard. Great thing about chalk? It’s not permanent and good for last-minute changes in the lineup.
One of my good friends used these awesome windows as her seating chart, and I wanted to borrow the idea from her. She actually even let us use her windows. This is much easier, less time consuming and way cheaper than making place cards for each wedding guest. It also goes with the general idea of repurposing products for our decorations.
Instead of just numbering your tables, you could use names of cities that you’ve lived in. If you have a book theme, you could use literary titles. We thought about doing newspaper titles, but we weren’t sure how to actually post them on the tables without a lot of time-consuming work. Another idea we were playing with was using numbers to tell a story about us and our relationship. For example, table No. 5 — How many years we’ve been dating. Table No. 6 — How many dates we went on before we said I love you.
We ended up making numbers out the same cardstock as our banners, to tie everything together. We stuck them on wooden skewers, which will stick into the plants we’re using as our centerpieces. Not only was this easy, it was much cheaper than buying 20 picture frames.
Also, decide whether or not you want to have round tables or long rectangular tables. No matter what shape and size you use, don’t pack your guests in. No one wants to put their elbows in their neighbor’s spaghetti. Also give your guests enough to room to keep their salad plate if they’re not quite finished by the time dinner is served.
I’m very much a visual person, so to plan the actual seating arrangement, I wrote everyone’s name on index cards with their guests, keeping them together instead of cutting them into individual seats. That way Grandpa doesn’t end up at one table while Grandma’s across the room. I also did this with families that included small children, so I knew they would be taking up three or four chairs at a table.
The index cards gave us the freedom to spread out on the floor and move guests around. It really is like a puzzle. While our tables can fit eight each, several tables only have six or seven because that’s just the way the arrangements worked out. This can add tables quickly (including extra linens), so I’d advise against it if you’re tight on space.
Instead of having a head table, we are breaking tradition and going with a sweetheart table for us and two large, round tables for the wedding party and their dates. We have several people in the party whose dates might not know anyone else, so we figured this would be an easy way to make things less awkward for them.
Usually parents and immediate family get sat closest to the bride and groom, with grandparents and other close family members. The Knot.com suggests seating the two sets of parents together, which I’d never heard of.
While arranging the families, be considerate of family members or friends that don’t necessarily get along or might make for an awkward table. We made sure we didn’t sit Christian’s rowdy friends from New Jersey with any grandparents. Also, be cognizant of split families or divorced parents. And for the love of God, don’t invite your exes.
Catch up on last week’s post: The perfect wedding photos take time