Celebrity wedding planner David Connolly from Rich Bride, Poor Bride has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger answering all of your burning wedding-related questions. Need some help with the planning process? Have a question about etiquette, organization or budgeting? Post your question in the comment field below and we’ll forward it directly to David.
Here is this week’s reader question:
Q: David, what is the easiest way to do the seating plan?
- Stephanie Ricciardi via Facebook
A: Hi Stephanie,
Firstly, I applaud you on deciding to tackle the challenge of a seating plan. I believe that predetermining the table and seat at which each of your guests will sit is appreciated as a convenience.
Here’s why seating plans are important:
- Seating can be done more quickly, meaning food can be served per schedule.
- It allows you to identify specifically to the servers which chair is getting which meal, who has allergies, who is under-age, etc.
- Left on their own, people sit without leaving spaces for couples, resulting in an eventual shift or the couples sitting apart.
- It enables you to assign preferred seating to view the head table, speech podium and/or screens, etc.
- If there is sensitivity to certain family members being in the eye-line of others, strategically-placed seats help.
- It can be a clever matchmaking opportunity!
So with justification made, on with the fun.
STEP ONE: THE HEAD TABLE
I’ve experienced first-hand success with all of these options.
1. Traditional Head Table
The groom sits to the right of the bride, at the centre, then the wedding party (not their guests), alternate male/female along the side of the table facing the guests.
If the wedding party is too big to accommodate the longest possible table-length in the room, there can be two, tiered tables with the bride and groom centred at the top table with no one sitting directly in front of them on the bottom tier (sometimes the cake goes there).
2. Traditional with a Twist.
Same as above, but the dates/spouses of the wedding party are invited to join the head table and wrap around the front, again leaving a space for the bride and groom at the centre.
3. Table for Two aka “Sweetheart Table” – the choice of Victoria and David-my-doppelganger-Beckham
If you’re ‘visiting’ tables during dinner in lieu of a receiving line, you avoid disrupting others every time you leave or return to your table. Sometimes, it’s simply a much better fit, given the configuration of the room.
4. Table for Two Plus Two
At a semi-circle table sit the maid of honour, groom, bride and best man.
Now for the rest of the room. Here are some guidelines, yours to consider and apply (or completely disregard) based on your individual situation:
TOP TEN SEATING PLAN GUIDELINES
1. The universal law of magnetism will not cease to apply during your wedding so seat ‘obviously’: Families together, work mates together etc… then sub-divide in matched age groups and interests.
2. Sit elderly, disabled, pregnant and guests with newborns:
- near doors/facilities
- away from loud speakers
- at tables that will remain in the reception space throughout the night (not those that might be removed to create a dance floor)
3. Strive to place each of your guests next to one person they already know and one person they don’t but you feel will be compatible with.
4. Try for an equal number of alternating males and females, unless one of your common interest groups dictate otherwise.
5. Children under nine should sit with their parents which means 10-16 year olds will be too cool for that so if there are enough of them, let them thrive at a ‘teen table’ of their own. This can be the worst located table on the plan as they don’t care about the speeches (they care about texting that they heard Justin Beiber might be singing at the wedding).
6. Ask your guests to specify their needs for high chairs and booster seats. The latter takes its own place on the seating chart as it is a chair. High chairs however, generally don’t.
7. Share your completed plan with someone you trust in time to implement their suggestions should you agree on any changes.
8. How and when to communicate which table and seat a guest is assigned to is a separate matter entirely. I only bring it up to remind you that if you are creating a framed seating chart, either guest by table or alphabetically by name, it must be completed in time for (oversized) printing and framing.
9. Do your best not to have a ‘left-overs’ table of people without dates and people you thought would decline your invite.
10. Consider these suggestions, then do whatever suits you and your family best. If ‘tradition’ doesn’t support you having an incredible day, create a new tradition that does and most importantly, remember:
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
- Abe Lincoln
Find David on Facebook at Facebook.com/theaislefile