Creating table assignments can rank up there as one of the most frustrating, argument inducing, let's-just-go-elope-instead parts of wedding planning. Naturally it comes at the very end of the process when you are ready to just do the dang thing already, but instead you're sitting at home waiting on your last RSVPs to come in (when the due by date was a week ago) so you can figure out where to put everyone. Trust me, I get it, that is why I am here today to help save you from that misery as much as possible.
As a planner I truly never want any aspect of preparing for your wedding to make you feel this way. But as much as I wish I could take the burden from you and do the seating arrangement myself (I oddly enough enjoy the giant game of Tetris that it is), I don't know your great aunt from your college roommate so what you would end up with probably wouldn't work. Let's face it, you're never going to please everyone and at the end of the day guests really shouldn't care where they sit because they are there to support you. So don't lose too much sleep over the matter and put these tips in place and everything will work out just fine!
Wait until you have received all RSVPs
I don’t advise beginning your seating arrangements until you have received everyone’s responses first and know your final headcount. There will be people who don’t send their RSVP in by the requested date, so make the necessary phone calls to see if they are able to attend or not and then begin working on placing them at tables.
Assigning tables vs. seats
This is likely a decision you made earlier on in the planning process when you discussed the formality of your event. But my advice is not to assign seats for each guest at the last minute unless you've planned accordingly for it.
While place cards can be a beautiful touch and definitely a part of your table design, I personally believe that you do not need to assign seats unless your caterer requires it or you are hosting a more formal, black tie wedding. Assigning tables will suffice in most cases and is always highly, highly encouraged.
Have a copy of your layout in front of you before you start arranging
I find it easiest to have a hard copy of the reception layout in front of you so you know where everything is. Even if the layout is not completely set in stone yet I think it helps to have a visual reference and understand the general flow of the space.
Tip: Don’t seat elderly guests too close to the band or DJ’s sound equipment.
Start with paper and pencil
Before entering anything into a finalized spreadsheet I find it easiest to put pencil to paper and just draw it out. One of my favorite ways is to get a white poster board, draw out your tables and start arranging names in pencil at each. Another option is to use an index card to represent each table and write each guest's name on the notecards (again in pencil) until you have everyone assigned.
Alway start with the head table, move on to immediate family and VIPs, then so on through your extended family members, friends and other guests until you are satisfied. And don’t be afraid to mix and match guests and groups of people, it makes it more exciting and promotes conversation!
Once everything is finalized
After you have created a seating arrangement that works for everyone I suggest typing up a general list of who is sitting at each table and entering each guest’s table number in your main spreadsheet. Both of these will be handy and you need this information to give to whoever is making your escort cards or seating chart.
Tip: If you are doing escort cards vs. a seating chart make sure the cards are arranged alphabetically by last name before wedding day!
While this whole task may seem daunting, I hope what I have outlined helps you in the process!
Photo by: Amy and Jordan Photography