Seating arrangements: 10 things to consider before you finalize tables

tables
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!

Remember, weddings are about your guests too!

giftbag

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!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-herbst/10-thoughtful-ways-to-mak_b_3575724.html?ir=Weddings&utm_campaign=071213&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-weddings&utm_content=Title

Summer is Wedding Season! Are you up on your wedding ettiquette?

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:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-gottsman/wedding-etiquette-dos-and_b_3490270.html