Thanks to Elegance and Enchantment for sharing this great infographic on head table seating (from Simply Bridal):
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!
Credit to my daughter on this topic– she spent much of her engagement thinking about ways to make the wedding a most excellent experience for her wedding party and invited guests.
In a recent post at Wedding Party, blogger Stephanie Herbst notes that about 69 million Americans will be attending more than one wedding this summer.
“While your guests will obviously be thrilled to see you get hitched,” Herbst writes, “they’re also putting in a lot of time and money to celebrate with you.” She has great suggestions for thoughtful touches that your guests will most certainly appreciate.
Probst has great suggestions for showing your guests how much you appreciate them. Here a few of ours:
1. Make welcome bags for out-of-towners. We had lots of fun doing this. Include a note that thanks your guests for being a part of your big day. The contents can be very simple. Ideas include: A bottle of water, pack of gum, granola or chocolate bars, a map of the area, and a list of cab companies (if they prefer not to drive).
2. Give thoughtful consideration to seating arrangements. Place people thoughtfully to ensure they have a good time! Do you have a bunch of friends who love to dance? Place them near the dance floor. A quiet friend who will be attending alone? Put her at your friendliest friends’ table. And make a real effort to avoid a “dumping ground” table (they will know!).
3. Acknowledge your bridal party every chance you get. My daughter had little gifts for them at every occasion throughout the year, letting them know how much she appreciated their being in her wedding.
4. Give your guests a safe ride home. We wrestled with this “obligation,” but decided to take care of our guests with transportation between the hotel and reception venue. Once the rides are taken care of, a nice party becomes a GREAT party!
Remember, these are your family, neighbors and best friends– make sure they know you’re thinking of them too!
I’m a huge fan of the HuffPost Weddings blog, and I loved Diane Gottsman’s recent post on wedding etiquette. Two of her points resonated with me: One, if your child’s name(s) is not included on the envelope, it was not an oversight; and two, don’t call the bride or her family to ask for an exception.
I would add the following Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to wedding etiquette:
Do reply promptly to a wedding invitation. Get up, look at the calendar, and if you’re free and want to attend, drop that response card in the mail right away. DON’T procrastinate, and don’t wait to see if something better comes along for that weekend. The bride and her family are anxiously awaiting responses so they can either begin activating the “B list,” or start thinking about seating arrangements. If the bride or her mom is contacting you AFTER the response deadline, you have really messed up!
DON’T call the bride or groom and ask for a “plus one” if this was not clearly indicated on your invitation (it would say Ms. Julie Smith and Guest). Weddings cost a lot of money, and whomever is hosting is doing plenty of numbers-crunching and hard decision-making. Don’t make it harder on them than it already is!
DO plan to send a gift if you have been invited to a wedding, even if you don’t go. It can certainly be smaller or of lesser value, but if the couple thought enough of you to include you at their wedding, it is appropriate for you to acknowledge their marriage with a gift.
And for all you brides-to-be out there, here are a few for you!
DO discuss the plus-one and children issues beforehand, and make a “policy.” For us, a plus-one was included for wedding party only, if the friend was “in a relationship.” For other guests, plus ones were extended only for couples who live together or are engaged. We had a few requests for exceptions, and stuck with our “policy.”
DON’T take it personally when friends decline. Sometimes money is an issue, especially for young people who often must prioritize among several weddings in a year.
DO consider the expense of being involved in a year’s worth of wedding festivities, and DON’T expect your friends to attend everything. Because my daughter had a big engagement party and a bachelorette weekend, we decided to let them off the hook for the bridal shower. We limited those invitations to bridal party, relatives and friends of the family.
For more do’s and don’ts, check out wedding expert Diane Gottsman’s post below:
Inspired by a Huff Post Weddings blog post (see previous post), I decided to compile my own “10 things” list, with a mother-of-the-bride slant. It was surprisingly easy to think of things, and I hope some of these help other MOB’s, brides, or anyone who is planning a wedding.
1. Groomsmen, especially youngish ones, know nothing about their wedding day responsibilities. Seriously, assume nothing. They need to know that their purpose is to seat guests, not just to stand there with “don’t I look awesome in this tux” expressions. The old ladies are waiting to be seated, and that is your job, boys!
2. You really do need a wedding planner of some kind (your cousin? best friend?) on the day of the wedding, because you, momma, will be like a deer in headlights. You can do all the planning and troubleshooting in the world, but have someone else run the itinerary that day. Your daughter is getting married!
3. Rehearse. All of it. Meticulously. Our daughter’s officiant was not able to run the rehearsal, so we did. What we thought would be a quick-and-dirty run-through, turned into a realization that we needed to walk through every last detail. See #1, above (I needed to use my teacher voice with them).
4. Your new son-in-law’s family WILL irritate you, no matter how much you like them. Get a good mantra going, and stay calm. Snapping at your daughter’s new mother-in-law could cause your daughter grief for a lifetime.
5. Dance with your son-in-law!
6. Make a list ahead of time of family pictures you really would like taken both at the reception and during the more formal photo time. Insist on this, even if your daughter says “MOM. There’s not time for all that!” We made mistakes here, and are missing photos we would have cherished. Ideas include bride with cousins, aunts and uncles, godparents, neighborhood pals, etc. And if you want “table shots,” you should add them to the list, because today’s photographers don’t always do those. Again, assume nothing.
7. Someone has to remember to bring the marriage license! Yes, we forgot that. It must be signed and posted immediately following the ceremony. This is a marriage, people, not just a photo op.
8. Decide ahead of time who will be dealing with packing up gifts, envelopes, and personal items from the reception. 1 a.m., after multiple cocktails, is not the time to do that. Have a plan so you know where everything is the next morning.
9. Your daughter will likely look to you to “fix” things along the way. Discourage her ahead of time from doing that, or you will look “clenched” in every photo. See #2, above. Put someone else in charge that day.
10. Once the day dawns, it’s all in motion; the weather is the weather, and what’s not done won’t be. Who cares? It’s your daughter’s wedding day!
Latest blog seen on Huffpost Weddings; it’s a good one! Next from bridemomma, 10 things I wish someone had told me before my daughter’s wedding day. Thanks for the inspiration, Caci Cooper!
My friend Terri, who searches wedding sites almost as much as I do, shared an article with me recently about wedding gift theft. Can’t get much lower than stealing from newlyweds as they celebrate the most joyous event in their lives!
As soon as I read it, I flashed back to my daughter’s reception, where envelopes spilled out of the artsy bird-cage thingy we placed on the gifts table– there were envelopes everywhere, and I remember thinking how easily one of them could get misplaced, thrown out, or (sad to say) stolen. There really is no polite way to call someone and say, “hey, if you gave us something, it wasn’t in the pile– just checking!” Just think of all the people in and out of the party room– music people, photography/videography people, catering staff, sketchy relatives or sketchy dates of relatives…. you get the idea.
Check out the link below for some simple preventative measures to take. The only thing worse than being robbed during your reception would be suspecting someone at your wedding!
On this absolutely beautiful weekend, which seems to be about a 10 from coast to coast, I’m reminded of how weather-obsessed we all become as the big day draws near! Many brides are fortunate to have gorgeous wedding days, but those with “weather issues” are no less elated on the big day, and neither are their guests.
If we agree that we can’t control the weather, then what is the point of this post? The point has three parts:
1. When planning your wedding, don’t assume the weather will cooperate. To wit, a beach wedding will be just lovely on a balmy, 70-degree day. But what if wind-swept rain is what you get? What’s your plan B? Remember, even if the last-minute tent has roll-down sides, it can still be pretty miserable under it.
2. When choosing a venue, imagine it in the rain. Do you still love it? My daughter’s venue was on a river, with gorgeous views. But I reminded her to look at the room and picture rain outside. Could she still imagine her reception there? She could.
3. Have a contingency plan for pictures. If it’s pouring or windy and you can’t do your pictures in at the river/garden/beach or wherever you had planned to do them. then what’s the plan? Think about this ahead of time, and plan to take more photos in the church or in a suitable area at your reception site.
…oh, and make sure the limo guys have nice big golf umbrellas in their trunks!
As I was waxing righteous about the plus-one situation, I came across a great article by Kim Ode in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She claims “social media are the new ‘plus one’ at weddings, causing couples how to manage the technology so that friends and relatives don’t morph into Guestzillas.”
Ode considers both sides of this, for there are indeed brides and grooms who can’t wait to see instantaneous postings, given the wait time for professional pix. As Ode says, this is fun for plenty of brides and grooms. Others, however, might freak out a bit if unvetted photos appear, especially from the getting ready period or the ceremony itself.
So, the advice…
*Bride and groom should consider their position on this issue and let it be known
*If you don’t want guests whipping out their iphones during your ceremony, put a line to that effect in your program, or have your officiant asks guests to refrain from using electronic devices
*If you DO want photo sharing, you can create a hashtag handle so you can enjoy all posted photos of the day
My favorite comment from this article comes from wedding photographer Becca Dilley, who says, “I would question why you’re taking photos instead of really being there.” Well said!
For the full article, go to http://m.startribune.com/lifestyle/?id=201664121
A fun tongue-in-cheek follow-up to my plus-one issues post! Great blog…you should check it out!
During my last (admittedly sporadic) session of stalking Twitter for interesting and amusing wedding-related content, I came across this highly entertaining photo of one of the better wedding RSVPs I’ve ever seen:
Now, wedding RSVPs are nobody’s favorite detail — except perhaps for the designers and stationers who cackle gleefully and rub their hands together thinking about all the piles of money they can get out of you for one tiny little square piece of fancy, recycled, eggshell-white paper with scalloped edges. Or whatever you end up using. Still, they’re one of those necessary evils. If you’re planning on having guests at your wedding — and let’s face it, most people are — you’re going to have to figure out how many of them are actually going to show up, where you’re going to exile some of them and for the love of god what you’re going to feed…
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