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How to Make a Wedding Seating Chart: Ideas and Etiquette

By: Jaclyn Holtzman, Editor, AllFreeDIYWeddings.com
How to Make a Wedding Seating Chart Ideas and Etiquette

Wedding planning can be a stressful process with big decisions to make, etiquette to follow, and friendships to keep in tact. Turning to experts for advice, tips, and tricks will take some pressure off, knowing that you're doing things the right way.

Assigning seats can be one of the most anxiety-producing procedures in wedding planning because it's a last-minute task. You must wait until your RSVP cut-off date before making a wedding seating chart, which means that you'll be frantically shuffling names just weeks before the wedding.

This guide on how to make a wedding seating chart, including ideas and etiquette, will make the process go more smoothly. Heck, you may even enjoy making your wedding seating chart once you know all the secrets. We've answered all of your assigned seating questions so that you'll feel confident as you plan your wedding reception seating arrangements.

Should We Have Assigned Seating?

First thing's first: you must decide if you want to have assigned seating at your wedding.

If your celebration is a casual get together, you may opt out of assigned seating. However, if you are having a sit-down dinner, experts suggest assigning tables at the very least. This prevents 15 people squeezing onto one table and one lone guest with no where to go.

More formal events go a step further and have assigned seats. This is a good idea if guests had a meal choice so that the serving staff knows what goes where. This is also a nice way to ensure that each guest has someone to talk to.

Keep in mind, if you are assigning both tables and seats, you must have escort cards as well as place cards.

* Escort Cards - direct guests to their assigned table; they are usually located near the entrance
* Place Cards - direct guests to their specific seat; these are placed on table settings ahead of time

If you are solely assigning tables, only escort cards are necessary. Some even opt to hang a glorified version of the wedding seating chart outside of the reception rooms for guests to see to which table they are assigned. Here are some wedding seating chart display ideas.

Artsy Watercolor Place Cards

How Many Tables Should We Have?

Before you begin making your wedding seating chart, you must determine how many tables are required.

Note that standard round tables are 60" and seat 6-10 adults. Eight adults fit the most comfortably. Similarly, standard rectangular tables are 6' x 30" and fit eight adults if two chairs are put at the ends or six if not.

Further, experts advise leaving 60" between each table in order for waiters to fit through and chairs to be comfortably pushed out.

Determine the size of your reception hall, and with a bit of math, you should know how many tables are needed.

How Do I Make a Wedding Seating Chart?

Once you have decided how many tables you will have, it is time to actually make your wedding seating chart. You can either do this manually with a hand-drawn wedding seating chart poster or electronically with a wedding seating chart maker.

You can also find a wedding seating chart template that you can print out, though these aren't always as customized as you may like. I prefer doing it the old-fashioned way with a poster, markers, and color-coded post it notes.

The Easiest Wedding Seating Chart Method

Where Should Everyone Sit?

The bride and groom -- There are a few options here, but no matter which you choose, position your table in a central location so that all guests can see you.

* Sweetheart Table - a table for just the bride and the groom. Usually these are placed at the front of the reception hall with both sitting on the same side, facing the guests.

This is not as common anymore but is a good solution if you can't decide with whom to sit or if you're afraid of offending anyone.

* Bridal Party Table - the bride, groom, and all attendants. This can be difficult with a large bridal party because people tend to include attendant's dates at the table. If your party is a manageable size, it can be fun to sit all together. The bride sits to the groom's left, the maid of honor sits to the groom's right, and the best man sits to the bride's left.

The male-female pattern continues around the table with the remaining attendants. If your bridal party is large, you can sit with just the maid of honor and best man and their dates. You can have a table with the bridal party sans dates and place the dates at a separate table, but this is more passé.

* Family Table - the bride, groom, and both sets of parents. This is a good solution if there are no divorced parents.

If you don't sit with the bridal party, place them at a table all together with their dates or scatter them around the party.

If you don't sit with the parents, they can either all sit at a table together with grandparents and the officiant or they can each host tables. The latter is an especially good option for divorced parents.

When hosting tables, the couple or single parent can pick who sits at their table; usually it's close family members from their side.

The kids - if there are enough kids for a kids' table, go for it. Make sure to keep them busy with activities like the "I Do" Printable Activities for Kids. If there are not enough kids or they are especially young, sit them with their parents.

Vineyard Place Card and Table Number Free Wedding Printables

Do Not Have a Singles Table

It is outdated and embarrasses single guests. If you have friends you'd like to set up, put them at the same table but include friends of each at the same table. It is always nice for each table to include a mix of guests who know each other and guests who you think would get along.

Arrange the rest of the guests so that everyone has someone she knows and someone she doesn't know at her table. Organize tables by age and interest.

Cheers to a great tip: conduct toasts during dinner. Encourage guests to continue eating while the toasts are going on. This cuts down on awkward conversation with full mouths.

Remember, guests are only at their tables for a small portion of the evening, so a boring or awkward table isn't the end of the world. If they are truly there to celebrate your union, they'll simply be happy to be there.

Would you have a sweetheart table or bridal party table at your wedding?

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