Photo by Alexis Ryan Photo
To have a seating chart or to have no seating chart, that can be a question that couples often wrestle with. We are here to give you all the facts you need to know about the seating arrangement so hopefully we can make your decision easier!
There is no right or wrong answer here, one wedding may need a seating arrangement and another doesn't at all! So just take this information to help you decide what feels best for your day!
Why Should You Have A Seating Arrangement
First, let's talk about why you may have a seating arrangement. One main reason is the catering. Depending on your meal and your caterer, you may have guests decide what meal choice they will have at the wedding. So, when the caterers are going to serve the meals, they need to know how many of each entrée option should go to each table. The easiest way to do this is to plan a seating arrangement so you know who and what meals will be at each table.
Another reason to have a seating arrangement is so the immediate family can have the preferred seating up front close to the head table. If you don't have a seating arrangement, you can still reserve these tables for family only, but depending on the size of your families and how many people you want to include in those first 2-4 tables, it can be easier to just do the full seating arrangement. A great and easy option is to put a reserved sign on those tables. Some of my favorites are found here!
Having a seating arrangement can also save you money! I know that sounds odd, but when you don't have a planned out seating arrangement, guests will often sit with just who they know or came with and maybe one other group of people. They often will not fill a table to its maximum capacity. Because of that, you will need more tables than the exact guest count to be sure there is room. And more tables means more chairs, linens, centerpieces, place settings, etc. which all adds to the costs.
Not only can it cost you more, but it also could create an awkward situation or situations that will need resolving on the wedding day.
You don't want to have a family of 5 sit at table with 6 place settings, it's likely no one will come sit at the one place setting by themselves. So if you have a couple come to the wedding, they may not find a place to sit where there are two place settings together. This is why you would need to have the extra tables and places for guests to spread out a little more if there is no seating chart.
On the flip side of this, if your venue has the space and maybe you have a buffet anyway, some couples may choose to let guests sit wherever because they think they would be more comfortable that way too. Again, it's your day and your guest list, so you know what would work best!
How To Create Your Seating Arrangement
Now let's talk about how to create your seating arrangement! This can seem like an overwhelming task. It may help you to group your guests into who you would like them to sit with first. Having families that know each other together, work friends together, etc. Once you have general groupings, then you are going to want to assign the tables based on the layout and where you want them in the room. You'll want to take into consideration if someone has small children, if someone can't hear very well, does someone have limited mobility or a wheel chair, do they need more space, should they be further from the loud dance floor... All things to consider to help keep everyone most comfortable at your wedding. To me, it is helpful to have a visual of the room layout with the tables to start assigning where guests should sit. There is a great website called All Seated that we often use to help create the seating arrangement. You can add your guest list as you get back RSVP and even add their meal choices, etc. Then you can easily assign tables and even share with your venue, caterer, planner or coordinator, etc.
If you don't use an online platform, using a poster board with post it notes works great as well! This is great because you can move people around as you go, rather than writing it all out and having to re do as you make changes.
Creating A Seating Chart
Once you've created the seating arrangement, how will you display the information to guests. There are a few options in doing so: Place Cards, Escort Cards, and Signs.
Escort Cards are little cards that sit on an entry table into the reception venue in alphabetical order. They will indicate your guests full name, table number, and meal choice. Guests choose spot at their assigned table.
Place Cards are the same little cards, but they are usually accompanied by a sign to indicate a guests table number. Place cards sit at each place setting to indicate guests spot at the table and indicate their meal choice to the caterer.
Sign Seating Chart is a sign that you can chose to display however you may chose. This will just indicate a guests table number. This doesn't have a meal choice listed so it's best for buffets or other dinner options that don't require you to relay to the caterers what a guest chose.
You can of course get creative with other ways of displaying where guests will be seated. You can incorporate favors, art work, something that goes with your theme or represents you as a couple.
Escort Cards Place Cards Seating Chart