When people attend a wedding, they generally expect to be told where to sit—a table assignment at least, if not a seat assignment. Who tells them where to sit? You do! Read on to find out all about how to make your wedding table assignments and seating chart.
There are basically four steps to making your seating assignments.
Step 1: Finalize Your Attendee List
You can’t make a seating chart until you know who’s coming to your wedding. And making a seating chart is time-consuming and kind of a pain in the ass. So make sure your RSVP deadline on your wedding invitations is well in advance of your wedding date. I recommend making the deadline a full month before the wedding date to give you time to track down stragglers who don’t RSVP at all.
TL;DR here’s the video version
Step 2: Make Your Floor Plan
Proximity to the couple getting married is a sign of status when it comes to wedding seating. You can’t figure out which tables are going to be closest to you until you have a floor plan. Some venues will provide the floor plan and lay out the tables for you. In some cases, you may have to rely on your wedding planner to help you.
What’s that? You didn’t hire a wedding planner? Well then, you’re on your own! If your venue doesn’t make the layout for you, they might at least have a blank template of their space that you can draw tables on to get some idea of where they will go. “Close enough” counts here. Don’t stress too much about getting the placement exact.
Step 3: Number the Tables
It’s very important that you do this step BEFORE you begin assigning guests to tables. Imagine that you’re walking into a room full of tables, and you know you’re at table 12, but you don’t know where table 12 is. It will be much easier for you to find it if the tables are positioned in numerical order. If you see table 9 and then 10, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
But imagine walking into a room where table 12 is next to table 3, and table 11 is next to table 15. It makes no sense! Don’t do that to your guests.
If half your tables are on one side and half on the other side with the dance floor in the middle, number all the tables on one side in order, then start where you left off and number the tables on the other side in order. So, for example, tables 1-8 would be on the left, and tables 9-16 would be on the right. Here are two examples of numerical order:
Table 1 Table 2
Table 4 Table 3
Table 5 Table 6
Table 8 Table 7
I call this a “snake order” because if you draw a line through the progression of numbers, it looks like a snake. Alternatively, try this way:
Table 1 Table 5
Table 2 Table 6
Table 3 Table 7
Table 4 Table 8
Just do something that makes sense!
Step 4: Assign Guests to Tables
Now that you know who is coming, where the tables are located, and which tables are which, you’re finally ready to assign people to tables. Begin with the easy guests: your parents and immediate family members.
Generally, each set of parents will have their table near the couple’s table, regardless of whether the couple is doing a sweetheart table (just the two of them) or a head table (the couple plus their wedding party members). If you’re dealing with divorced parents, then each parent should have their own table.
Your parents may have ideas about who they want to sit with. Maybe it’s their siblings, maybe it’s their other children, maybe it’s close friends. Ask them what they want in order to make things easier on yourself.
Some rules to consider when assigning tables:
always seat people with their spouse or date for the evening; never split up couples;
think about people who have things in common, will get along, and will have interesting conversations—seat those people at the same table, even if they don’t already know each other;
try not to have fewer than 6 people at a table or it will feel sparse;
try not to have more than 1 over the ideal maximum number of people at a table, otherwise it will feel crowded (meaning, if you have a 72” round table designed for 10-12 people, don’t cram 14 people into it);
consider a kids’ table if you have a lot of kids aged 5-10; provide activity books to keep them occupied;
if you’re assigning seats in addition to tables, try to alternate men with women.
Give yourself at least two weeks to complete the seating assignments. If you’re doing individual escort cards printed or hand-calligraphed, you might need even more time. Check with your calligrapher to find out what her turn-around time is!
If you’re printing a large seating chart, remember that you need time to input all the data into the template and then get the file to a printer to be printed on large-format foam board. DO NOT wait until the last minute to work on your seating assignments!
Questions? Ask below in the comments!
In the Sacramento area and stressed about your wedding? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if I’m available for your wedding date!