If there’s one part of the planning process guaranteed to send every alpha male and his usually level-headed bride running for the hills, it’s trying to arrange the wedding seating plan. Navigating the minefield of whether or not him and her can safely sit in the same room as them, let alone at the same table, can be worthy of a mighty headache before you’ve made it anywhere near the bar. And while there are no easy answers when it comes to seating your nearest and dearest, with a few key pointers you’ll have guests firmly in padded seats and a glass or two firmly in hand for a job well done in no time.
Do you need a wedding seating plan?
Although the infamous diagrams tend to make an appearance at the majority of weddings, whether or not you choose to opt for a seating plan comes firmly down to a) personal preference and b) the style, size and tone of your reception itself. Large formal occasions can certainly benefit from having a well-ordered plan in place, but for smaller more casual affairs or buffet receptions a seating plan might not be necessary. It’s worth putting in a bit of time to weigh up the pros and cons on this one, gents – do your guests all know each other? Are they an orderly bunch? Will the whole occasion descend into anarchy if they’re left to their own devices with a handbags at dawn mass free-for-all on seating?
Wedding Table Plans – Where to start
Before setting out on your logistical adventure, consider a few of the basics;
- The number of guests – Tot up your guestlist for a rough idea on attendees and basic number to work from.
- The venue – size, shape and capacity – Your lovely lady, or possibly both of you, will have already made a few initial visits to check out the suitability of the venue. Make a note of its dimensions (we’re talking a rough guide here chaps, tape measures not required). The shape and overall capacity of the room will play a major part in table arrangement.
- Size and shape of the tables- Yes, size does matter. It will also dictate how many you can seat to a group.
- Entertainment – Give the venue co-ordinator a heads-up on any extra entertainment you’ve got planned.
They might have to arrange tables accordingly.
Wedding Top Table
Traditional seating plan for the top table;
Etiquette might suggest the bride and groom should be flanked by their respective parents, with the best man and maid of honour completing the top table line-up, but there are no hard and fast rules on this one. Family dynamics need to be taken into consideration, so ultimately it’s whatever works best for you.
Key Considerations For Guests
You’ve sorted the top table, so now it’s time to tackle the rest of your joint family/friends/rabble.
So…. where to begin?
First and foremost, close family (siblings, grandparents and parents, if not seated at the top table) should be allocated the seating closest to the bridal party, followed by any bridesmaids and ushers.
The rest, brave sir, is up to you! But there are a few considerations to help you on your way.
- From a tactical point of view, trying to fit all of your guests into nicely rounded groups can easily become mission impossible. As a first step, it’s worth asking the venue if they offer tables of varying sizes – it could make the job a whole lot easier.
- Always seat couples together. Sure, they might not be inclined to talk to each other half the time they’re at home (washing-up wars anyone?) but they probably won’t appreciate being placed at opposite ends of the room (er… washing-up wars dependent…)
- Try to make sure everyone knows at least one other person on his or her table.
- Factor in any youngsters – depending on age it might work well to create a separate ‘kids table’ with toys etc. to keep them occupied. Otherwise seat small children with their parents, and maybe add a few of their relatives nearby in case said parents need rescuing.
- And last but by no means least, ‘despite how tempting it might seem, never use your seating plan as an opportunity to match-make your single friends’ says Adam Leyton, founder of TopTablePlanner.
Useful online resources
A little technology can go a long way to making the planning process that bit easier, so unless you’re partial to leaving hundreds of pre-nuptial post it’s stuck around the place, planning your wedding seating online might be the way to go.
www.toptableplanner.com offers some cracking tools for making the process a whole lot easier to navigate; drag and drop, Word and Excel imports, printable plans, menu and RSVP additions… Well worth a look, gents.