One of the most stressful aspects of planning your wedding apart from finalising the guest list is organising the seating plan. It can cause weeks of hassle and stress trying to fit everyone into an arrangement that definitely won’t have the evening end in tears. With some careful planning, and help from your other half, you can find a fit that works perfectly for all your guests and we have some dos and don'ts to help you along.
Do involve the groom in the seating plan job, including your families if your parents have people to invite as well. They might know best who to seat together, and who it would be ideal to separate on the day. Consider giving each set of parents tables to fill themselves, depending on how many invites they’ve been given.
Don’t separate couples, unless one of them is part of the wedding party. Most couples will want to sit together for the meal and enjoy the wedding in the other’s company. If one of a couple is in the wedding party, why not form a table with their other halves?
Do have a table just for younger guests. You might have younger cousins, nieces or nephews you’d like to have attend the full wedding, but it’s possible they won’t want to sit with their parents for the meal. Their parents may also want some time to themselves to enjoy the meal without having to worry about the kids. Putting sets of cousins together with colouring pages is a great way to keep them happy throughout the evening.
Don’t ignore the obvious things. Elderly guests won’t want to be sat near a speakers, as it will ruin the evening for them. While parents might not be sitting with their children, it could be easier to have the children’s seat by the doors in case they need to be brought out for being unruly. And, naturally, exes will need to be separated for the day.
Do start planning it early. While it’s fine to make last minute changes in the immediate lead up to the big day, you should aim to get started on your seating plan at least a month before the wedding. When you’ve gotten back your RSVPs is the ideal time to begin, as you have a solid idea of who will be coming, but you can even start making provisional plans once you have the invitations sent out.
Don’t forget to double and triple check your RSVPs. You don’t want to come to the day and realise you’ve forgotten to plan a seat for one of your guests. As soon as an invite comes back, put their name on the table plan, no matter where they’re going to be finally sitting.
Do be mindful of single guests. Pop them with some of their friends regardless of relationship status. No matter what you do, don’t put them sitting with the kids and don't just put them all at one table, unless they already know each other. For one thing, they'll know they're at the single table, which they won't appreciate, and for another, it will be a very awkward meal if they're all perfect strangers.
Don’t forget about the top table. Whether you want just you and your other half at the table, or you’d rather have the whole wedding party there, you can either integrate the two families, or have both your parents and both their parents sitting together. Make sure you know who’ll be sitting at the top table, and make arrangements for who you’ll be leaving out.
Do try and create a little balance with the tables; even amounts of male and female diners, roughly the same age group will give a good variety, while you can mix and match groups of two and three who know each other with other groups to help integrate the wedding while still keeping them with people they know.
Don’t forget about the two most important guests. You’d be surprised how many couples forget to put themselves into their own seating plan. Put yourselves in first and go on from there.
- Aoife Bennett