One of the biggest decisions couples make regarding their wedding receptions concerns where to seat their guests. Many a bride and groom has felt the crunch of compiling responses and then coming up with an acceptable seating arrangement for the reception.
Seating guests is not a task exclusive to brides- and grooms-to-be. Anyone holding a special party, whether it's at a reception hall or a restaurant, must determine seating arrangements.
Before you begin to make seating arrangements, you will need the entire list of people attending the event. Having a final headcount is essential. While you may want to do a seating chart early into the reception planning, it's best left until a few weeks before your wedding day, when you know who will and will not be in attendance.
Next, know the number of tables you will be alloted in the party space. A catering hall may have a set number of seats that can fit at each table and can usually provide you with a map of the room or a blank seating chart. Many standard reception tables can comfortably seat between eight to 10 people. Squeezing in more people can make for an uncomfortable dining experience.
If you are a visual person, you may benefit from writing guests' names on small pieces of paper and physically moving them around your seating chart, much as you would do if you were trying to arrange furniture on a room layout. Otherwise, write things down as you plan.
When arranging the seating, figure out the head or bridal table. This is one of the easier tables to seat because it is traditionally filled with members of your bridal party and their respective spouses or dates. If your bridal party is especially large, consider flanking your own sweetheart table with two tables for the bridal party on either side.
After arranging the bridal table, focus on seating parents and close relatives of the bride and groom next. Many couples prefer to separate their families at the wedding, so the groom's family may sit on one side of the room and the bride's family will sit on the other. This means there will be two parental tables. Consider seating grandparents or other close family members at these tables to ensure they have a place of prominence in the room. This usually means being close to the dance floor to have a good view of all of the festivities. If your parents are divorced or there are any other strained feelings among parents, you can further separate into another table for stepparents, to avoid any unpleasantness or confrontation.
Many wedding receptions are full of friends and even coworkers of parents whom the couple tying the knot does not even know. You may need further clarification of their relationships and who gets along before seating them. In fact, ask a parent to take care of arranging their own friends so you will be certain the arrangements will be comfortable for everyone.
A friends' table is usually a mingling of friends or your own coworkers who are of similar ages. A friends' table can make guests who arrived solo feel more comfortable because they can converse with others who are like-minded.
Seating children can be tricky. You may be inclined to seat youngsters at their own table, which is fine if the children are mature enough to handle sitting by themselves. But young children sitting apart from their parents may be nervous. Furthermore, the parents will continually have to get up and check on the kids. Very young children are best seated alongside their folks.
When arranging seating, you also must consider special needs' individuals who may have mobility issues. Such individuals should be seated near doors and restrooms so it's easier for them to get around once the reception hits full swing. Try to accommodate special requests, like not seating the elderly too close to music speakers.
Keep in mind that there is software and even some smartphone apps that make it even easier to make seating arrangements. Tech-savvy couples may prefer this method to the old-fashioned pencil and paper technique.