Guest seating: a complete guide
Guest seating can be a great way to add extra seating to your party, or even create a private area for guests to meet. There are a variety of methods to seat guests, and this guide will help you choose the best way to seat your guests.
Planning the seating chart in advance
Preparing a seating chart is not something you can easily finish the night before your wedding. It’s a serious matter that can save you a lot of trouble during the wedding night. There are three steps to planning a seating chart:
- Once the guest list is made and the venue selected, feel free to sit down to make the very first, “raw” seating plan. It is worth estimating how many people will sit at one table, how many tables there will be, how to divide the guests so that they were interested in each other. From the first seating plan depends on the arrangement of furniture and the number of tables, and thus the menu and decor.
- After the guests have received invitations and responded “yes/no” to the specified date, you can make a more accurate seating chart. Remove from the plan those who can not come, and distribute the remaining guests according to their age, relationship, hobbies, etc. Usually this is done at least 2 weeks before the celebration. It is this seating chart should be sent to the organizer and decorator to prepare a scheme and seating cards.
- It happens that some of the guests due to unforeseen circumstances can not come, and someone calls with a second half, and you learn about this just a couple of days before the wedding. At the time of such clarifications, the final seating plan should be made a few days before the celebration. All changes should be communicated to your team, and the final list sent to the host and the venue’s banquet manager.
The earlier you start making a plan, the easier it will be to make adjustments later and keep the numerous cost items related to seating under control.
Analyzing the guest list
You’ll need to analyze your guest list to make your seating plan. Make a table in which the first column is the guest’s name; the second column is relatedness/relationship/family affiliation: for example, friend of the groom or sister of the bride; the third column indicates the age category. After that, start assigning guests to tables. In doing so, pay attention to:
- Age: older guests are best seated next to each other, so that young people don’t interfere with their quiet time and relaxation.
- With a couple / without a couple: a wedding is a great opportunity to meet interesting people, so it is better to seat single friends at one table, but it is better to seat couples together, so they will be more comfortable.
- Relationships: If you have a group of lifelong friends at your wedding, whether they are singles or couples, it is best to seat them at the same table. And if former lovers are invited to the wedding, and even with their current halves, it is worth seating them at different tables.
- Passion and temperament: You know your guests, and you know exactly with whom at the table it will be more interesting: someone quiet, and who will be glad to party. Take this into account when making your seating plan.
But the bride or groom’s family should take into account only when it comes to relatives who will be very happy to talk to each other. Friends are best seated together regardless of which side they are from: in the future they will have to communicate in your common company.
Decide on a seating plan
Depending on the guest list and the characteristics of the venue, you should decide on the type of seating:
- European seating: round tables of 8-10 people. This seating arrangement is the most popular, and most venues for weddings offer it. If the seating at these tables is too dense, there is a possibility that some guests will not see the newlyweds during the evening. Therefore, if possible, seating guests not along the entire perimeter of the table, but only on those seats from which you and the groom will be visible.
- Rectangular individual tables: designed for 6-10 people. A great option for those who want to make a less formal version of the dinner and apply a non-standard arrangement to the tables. Here it is possible to put a composition along the table, to seat the guests so that everyone could see the hero of the occasion. But you should remember that such seating takes up a lot of space in the hall, so carefully plan the space to leave a reserve for the dance floor and free movement around the hall.
- Long common table: 1 or 2 common tables without a separate table for the bride and groom. This type is used at small, home weddings, where the number of guests is small, which means you can not put separate tables and do not divide the guests.
- The letter “P”: familiar to many since our parents’ times, the seating arrangement has not lost its relevance, adapting slightly to modern standards. The newlyweds’ table can be set a little apart and leave two tables for the guests. You should avoid dividing the guests into two camps: on the side of the groom and on the side of the bride. Such seating is used at weddings less and less often: with it, guests from the same company do not have the opportunity to communicate with each other freely, because they can see well only the guest sitting next to them and the guests opposite.
Seating the most important guests
The most important guests at your wedding are, of course, your parents. And about where to seat them, you need to think particularly carefully. First, seat them at the same table next to each other, because the wedding is a kind of symbol of unity, so they should also get to know each other and communicate, as well as feel part of one family.
It’s up to you to give them a separate table or not, but they should be seated next to you to show your respect and gratitude. If you chose not the European seating plan, you can sit together with your parents: it will be pleasant for them and for you, because in such an exciting day will be close to the closest ones.
Not overloading the tables
How often do we hear the problem of “we can’t divide the guests, so instead of the supposed 10 people we have 12 at the table”! Sure, it sounds harmless, but it’s better to think 10 times before you make such a decision.
Each table in any seating plan is designed for a certain number of people for a reason. For comfortable seating at the table per person should be at least 60 cm, and with an increase in the number of people, this space is reduced to 40 cm. And this means that guests will sit at the table literally elbow to elbow, and chairs will stand against each other, which will be uncomfortable and themselves, and waiters.
In addition, the large number of guests at the table complicates serving, because there will be much less space for plates, dishes and food. So what should you do? Revise the seating plan or completely change its type: you can, for example, replace round tables with rectangular ones, and add a smaller table to the rectangular ones.
Making a seating chart
To visualize what came out after analyzing the guest list, sorting and seating, it is best to make a layout. What do you need for this? If you’re not a computer programmer, prepare a large piece of paper and cut out tables and chairs in squares and circles, depending on what kind of furniture you want.
Do it in scale to see a real picture, so ask the manager of the venue about the size of the room and all the objects that are in it: the stage, bar, etc. Better yet, ask him for a diagram of the room.
Arrange the cut out tables and chairs according to the seating and taking into account the space for the dance floor or other areas. If you see during the layout process that there isn’t enough room, it’s time to come up with a plan B and change the seating arrangement or move additional areas outside the room.
For example, in the summer you can take the dance floor on the veranda or outside, if the area allows. Or remove the photo area or the wishes area to another room. Be sure to discuss furniture arrangement with the host and organizer to make sure the plan makes sense.
Prepare a seating plan and place cards
A seating plan is an essential part of a relaxed and sensible wedding dinner: guests don’t crowd at the entrance, don’t lament that they didn’t get enough space next to their friends, everyone takes their seat, admires the setting that the decorators have carefully thought out, and is happy with the little compliment left for them at the table.
Be sure to pay your host’s attention to where the seating plan is, and remind them to introduce it to their guests early, during the welcoming buffet, so they don’t crowd in front of the seating area just before dinner begins.
If the position of the guests at the table itself also plays a role, you should leave a seating card at each seat. They can be either classic paper cards or more original in design: a guest’s name can be left on some fruit, photographic film, or a tag on a gift.