How to tackle the dreading seating chart

Ohhh, the seating chart... How can something so small have such a huge impact on your special day? We know the task is (often) tiresome, but here are our steps to tackle one of the trickiest parts of planning your wedding. 
Ceramic Seating Chart by vendor Fielding Milligan

Ceramic Seating Chart by vendor Fielding Milligan

While it might feel easier just to forget a seating chart all together (we know the feeling), but a seating chart puts your guests at ease and eliminates the awkwardness of walking around trying to find the last two seats in the room! You can also control any unwanted drama by ensuring character clashes are separated and the mood remains celebratory at all times. So sit down with your partner (or trusted advisor) and begin what can (actually) be a fun night of planning. 

You will need:

  • A3 paper with table layout drawn 
  • Blu Tack 
  • Names of guests individually cut out
  • Wine (optional)

Firstly, seating charts can be a beautiful focal point of your day. If you haven't already, get excited by fabric signs, flower-decorated easels, or something really unique like the ceramic chart pictured above by vendor Fielding Milligan. The options are endless!

Begin by going through your guests and grouping all couples and people that should not be separated. Don't forget elderly guests or children in this group. Now continue to group your guests into three categories (keeping identified couples together): 

  1. Easy (these are people who know a lot of guests or are naturally friendly and outgoing)
  2. Tricky (these are people who don't know many people or prefer to socialise with people they know)
  3. VIP (these are guests who you want close to you on the day or would like in your eyesight) 
  4. Character clash (these are people who do not get along, or who's viewpoints are radically different that arguments are possible)

Now, let's start with the obvious. Where would you like to sit? We recommend thinking about your vantage point and sitting in a position that allows you to see as many guests as possible. Also, consider your backdrop. While it may be tempting to look at the view, consider your photographs and what you want to appear behind you. Using Blu Tack, add your names to the A3 paper layout. Following this, turn your attention to the bridal table and who you would like around you on the night. The most important thing here is to make the two of you happy! Who makes you laugh? Who are your best friends or beloved family? 

Now to place the rest of your guests. We recommend starting with those who need particular seating arrangements. Begin with the elderly or guests needing easy access. Consider placing these people on a table with a clear walkway, and preferably with good access to the bathrooms and away from speakers. You may now like to seat your 'Character clash' group, dispersing them around the room. 

Time to fill in the gaps. Try to intersperse people in the 'Easy' group and 'Tricky' group on each table for a good mix of personalities. As you go, try to think about peoples characteristics or hobbies. Your cousin and old friend from university both love soccer? Great, seat them together for a guaranteed icebreaker. Ultimately trust your instincts here and take your time moving people around the board until you find a mix that works. For your VIP group, try to place these people in your line of sight or in close proximity to you. 

When you're done, remember to take a photo (and a sigh of relief).  

Still feeling overwhelmed?

Another option is to allocate tables rather than seats. The same steps apply, but you can worry less about exactly who sits next to who. A great way to display this by attaching name cards to a board displayed under each table number. Guests can take their name card and make their way to the allocated table. 

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