For the better part of a year, I dreaded this process, but with some time, patience and a little excel know-how, it all fell into place. Here are a few to-do’s when it’s time to arrange seating at your reception:
1.Make sure you have received all response cards. Decide if you will call/email/text those who haven’t responded. Yes, there’s an alternative to this; you can consider them “no’s” and if they respond late, stick them in no-man’s-land! When selecting the “respond by” date, build in week or two before you need to get a final number to caterer.
2.Ask the venue manager/caterer what the table configurations will be for your size reception (for example, four tables of 10 plus six tables of 12). Also ask if they have a template and room diagram for planning.
3.Decide with your fiancé and parents if you will mingle guests or keep bride’s and groom’s families separate. Also, will you mix up your friends? Or keep groups together? In my experience, guests enjoy partying with people they know and haven’t seen in a while. Don’t assume guests want to make small talk with strangers at your wedding; we want to catch up with family and friends!
4.Decide if you want head table or sweetheart table (just the bride and groom). A sweetheart table allows you to set the wedding party with their dates/spouses, which will be much appreciated.
5.Look at the room set-up when you decide who’s going where. You want to maximize the fun factor, so consider putting your dancers near dance floor.
6.Try to avoid a “leftovers” table (trust me, they will know). If you have a few people who really don’t know anyone, seat them with your most outgoing friends and family. Consider what your guests have in common. The more time and thought you put into this process, the better time everyone will have.
7.Use a seating arrangements program or app if you’d like, but you really don’t need one. Once we know the configurations, we created table lists on an iPad and easily moved “people” around.
8.DO leave enough time for this! It requires time, patience, and consideration. It’s kind of like solving a Rubic’s cube!
9. Don’t feel that you need to accommodate guests’ requests to sit with certain people. Politely tell them that you’re doing your very best to ensure that everyone has a great time.
10. For all guest management to-do’s, excel spreadsheets are your friend! Set one up with all guests (and addresses) early on, and create fields for responses, gifts, thank-you’s, meal selections, etc. Our caterer required a spreadsheet with table numbers and meal selections.
Finalizing the seating arrangements is a great feeling indeed. Relax, it’s going to be a great time!