If you need to create a seating chart for a wedding, don’t panic! By reading this guide you’re already one step closer to wedding reception bliss. Here we’ve answered your most pressing seating chart questions and broken down the process into small, easy-to-follow steps. You’ll also find instructions for creating a digital seating chart that will make the whole process smoother and more enjoyable.
Answers to frequently asked questions about how to create a wedding seating chart
Before we dive deep into the process of actually making a seating chart, let’s get some of the most common questions and concerns you might have out of the way.
How do you seat guests at a wedding reception?
Every wedding is unique. Each aspect of the event should be customized to fit the personalities of the happy couple. But there are a few best practices you can follow to streamline the task. We’ll get more into that in a little bit.
Do the bride and groom’s parents sit together?
It depends! Do they get along? If so, they’d probably love to share their happiness together on the wedding day. If they don’t prefer to celebrate together, seat them with other close relatives at separate family tables.
Should you assign seating at a wedding reception?
You might be wondering if you even need a seating chart at all. A good rule of thumb is, if you have over 75 guests or you choose to do seated dining, you should definitely use one. But even if you have a smaller group and opt for buffet-style, a chart will help whole event feel more organized. This empowers guests to relax and keep their focus on celebrating.
Which side of the room does each partner’s side of the family sit at reception?
If your wedding is also a religious ceremony, your beliefs will determine which side of the family sits where. Also, it varies from culture to culture. For example, Christian ceremonies often place the bride’s family on the left while Jewish ceremonies seat them on the right.
Does the bride sit to the right of the groom?
Just like in the last question, the kind of religious ceremony you have could decide which side the bride sits. Otherwise it’s up to you!
Does the bridal party have to sit together?
Nope! If the bridal party is made up of friends from all different areas of the happy couples life, consider seating them among guests they’ll feel most comfortable with. But if they do know each other or get along well, they’ll probably enjoy the experience of sharing a table. Either way, focus on who they’ll most likely want to sit with and go from there.
Do you need place cards at a wedding?
If there is a large wedding guest list, a seating chart will help coordinate everyone just fine. If your reception is on the smaller side, place cards will be more appropriate.
Now that you know the basics, let’s get started on your digital seating chart.
Here are the simple steps to create a seating chart for a wedding
Just follow this process step by step for a painless seating chart experience. You can even print it out like a simple check list!
1. Get the floor plan.
Contact your wedding venue to get the full layout with details like space dimensions, electric outlet locations, and bathrooms.
2. Place your DJ or band, food, and other important party add-ons.
No one will be hungry for cake if you put the stand next to a restroom.
3. Choose table shapes and sizes.
Have a realistic number in mind for how many people can comfortably sit at each table. The venue or rentals company can assist you with this.
4. Calculate the number of tables you’ll need.
Look at your confirmed guest list, the number of tables you can fit in the space, and the number of people you plan to seat at each one.
5. Use a digital seating chart to place the guest tables.
Because sticky notes and spreadsheets aren’t going to cut it when things get complicated. Check out our step-by-step instructions on how to create a digital seating chart for a wedding below.
6. Choose your seat.
It’s the happy couples day so don’t forget to put them first and empower the to choose their favorite seats in the venue. Some couples opt for a sweetheart table to avoid any awkward family drama. But if they prefer they can also sit with close friends and family while they eat. No matter who the couple sits with, aim to put them towards the center so no one has to strain to get a view of the happy couple.
7. Give VIPs special treatment.
Got a bridal party with a sweet tooth? Close proximity to the dessert table might be in order. Give the second best seats in the house to your parents or guardians. Your wedding is a special day in their lives too so make sure their seats make them feel like they’re part of the action.
8. Decide whether you’ll assign seats or tables for remaining guests.
As mentioned in the FAQs, the size of your party will determine the answer to a seat versus table debate.
9. Tactfully arrange your remaining guests into groups based on how they know the couple.
Do they know them from school? Work? Yoga class? Seating people with similar interests will give them something to talk about. That being said, resist the temptation to play matchmaker – relationship status is not a good to seat people together.
10. Seat younger guests by the dance floor.
They’ll enjoy the louder music and the opportunity to bust a move whenever their song comes on. This also means you might want to put older guests farther away from the DJ but still close enough that they can enjoy the fun too.
11. Remember to leave extra space for wheelchairs.
Or anyone else who might need a little extra assistance.
12. More than 10 children? Have a kid’s table.
Place it in close proximity to all the parents so they can keep an eye on everything. Give kids some fun things to play with like bubbles or coloring books. You’ll also want to avoid putting them by the bar area for obvious reasons.
13. Ask parents how you should seat their friends or extended family.
They might be more up to date on the family gossip than you are. At the very least they’ll probably have a preference for who they get to seated near.
14. Do your best to make people happy.
Let’s be honest – you can’t please everyone with your wedding seating chart. But as long as you keep their feelings in mind they’ll know you did your best.
15. Make or purchase a decorative seating guide for guests to reference on the day.
Your seating chart is an extension of your wedding personality and part of the decor so get creative! If assigning tables, use a chart. If assigning seats, use place cards.
Learn how to create a digital seating chart for a wedding
Digital seating charts are a must have for all wedding planning. Having a visual tool allows you to picture the final set up.
Writing one by hand might lead to more problems than it solves. Paper and sticky note charts just don’t have the same features and capabilities as digital ones. A digital seating chart for a wedding can be shared with key decision makers for better communication. It can automatically clean up messy guest files. And it allows you to add on important details like special needs and meal preferences. Plus, you’ll be able to make any last minute changes to it and quickly send updated versions out to staff so everyone stays on the same page.
Step 1: Select a great tool.
A great digital seating chart will have a few key features. Robust seating solutions will always be easy to use and offer clear instructions. They’ll also be collaborative, making it easy to invite other key decision makers to view the chart in real time so they can weigh in on placement of guests and seating. A great seating chart tool will also be adaptable. Updating guest lists and editing meal preferences should all be quick and painless, and help to keep you organized. Here at Social Tables we offer all of this and more with our collaborative seating software.
Step 2: Perfect your layout.
Input the dimensions of your space in your diagram, upload a PDF of your venue’s floor plans, or choose from over 5,000 venues floor plans already in Social Tables. Add your tables and their relative sizes. Play around with alternative wedding layouts to see how you want to arrange the band, buffet, and dance floor. Now is the time to experiment and see which layout feels the best for your event. With a digital seating chart, you can create as many different versions as you like without having to start from scratch every time.
Step 3: Adjust the tables.
Add in your tables’ shapes, dimensions, and positioning. Number your tables by clicking and dragging across the tables in your diagram. You can skip numbers, clear your choices, and even skip numbers containing certain values as you go. You even have the option of using only even or odd numbers.
Step 4: Import your attendee list.
Upload your guest list in a few clicks, and choose whether you’d like to merge duplicates to clean up any messy info. Manage attendees by adding their organization, email, tags, meal choices, and more. Here you’ll also find information on what group number they are as well as their table number and seat after you’ve assigned them one.
Step 5: Add VIP and other customizable tags.
Tagging the in-laws and the bridal party as VIPs is easy. Just create a new tag and assign it to each name on your list. Later on you can sort your list and chart by these tags if you need to check on something. Viewing this list in spreadsheet form also makes the planning process easier so no one gets left off by accident.
Once your tags have been added you can zoom in on guest information on the seating chart to do a final check that everything looks right.
Step 6: Drag and drop imported attendees to their seats.
You can also assign attendees by group or auto-seat everyone in a single click. Use the spreadsheet version to view your guests, and double check you’re not missing anyone.
Step 7: Add meals and make note of individual dietary restrictions.
There are several ways to edit attendee records at any point during your digital seating chart creation process. Whether it’s clicking on their seat, the side panel, or on the chart itself, inputting guest details is a snap, if you forgot to upload their meal preferences as you uploaded your list. Otherwise it’s easy to add the meals in, anytime.
Step 8: Share with caterers, venue, rental, and other important decision makers.
They’ll be able to quickly gather information on the party and the space. If any changes need to be made you can be confident that the whole team will be on the same page at all times, as your diagram will automatically update. The catering team can even sort guests by their meal preferences. Florists can plan out the number and positioning of their arrangements. And day-of coordinators can stay in the loop without missing a beat using real-time collaboration to see instant updates.
That’s how to create a wedding seating chart, simplified!
Planning a wedding can be stressful but making a seating chart doesn’t have to be, when you use free table planning software. No matter how you plan to arrange your guests, keep these main ideas in mind:
- Start with what you know. If there are religious elements to your wedding planning they can provide some helpful guidelines as to who sits where. Or if you’re certain grandma likes to boogie make sure she gets a seat next to the dance floor.
- You can’t please everyone. As long as you’re happy with the seating arrangement that’s all that really matters.
- Choose safety over style. Keeping the tables a certain width apart or adding space for wheelchairs ensures that everyone is comfortable and well taken care of no matter what.
At the end of the day, there’s no such thing as a bad seating chart for a wedding. It may take some clever planning, but using tools like Social Tables easy event seating chart tool can help keep you and the whole team organized.
Maria is a freelance writer specializing in B2B SaaS, technology, and events.