For some reason I had a hard time wrapping my head around ANYTHING having to do with wedding seating. Like, it was a little bit ridiculous how dumb I felt when it came to figuring out where to seat people and how to get them to their table. I had a mental block the way I do when I think about geometry…which basically meant if my wedding were a high school class I would have failed.
But thankfully I didn’t, and I finally got to the root (math pun!) of the problem. Here’s a few things that helped me figure it all out!
First things first, what are those thingies called?
Escort cards or Seating Charts:
These are what is typically placed near the entrance to where guests will be eating. These have your guests names (either the full name(s) of a single guest, couple, or invitee plus guest) and their assigned table number. Here’s an example:Mr. and Mrs. John Doe
Table 1 Olivia Smith
Table 2 Mark Green & Julie Fredericks
These are placed at individual place settings on the wedding table to indicate where each person is sitting. These are totally not mandatory, FYI. I did not have place cards, instead I had escort cards and let guests assigned at each table figure out where they wanted to sit. While it’s easier not to have place cards, they do come in handy if you have people assigned to certain tables that might need to be near or far from each other, or guests who have three or more people in their party and want to sit next to each other (like a family). However, people will usually sit where they want to anyway so that’s not something you have to spend too much time worrying about!
The Dreaded Seating Chart:
Once you have your final RSVP’s in you’ll want to tackle this, because it not only affects the making of your escort card or seating chart, but because it will seriously start to stress you out if you leave it until the last minute. While a wedding planner can help you out with this, it’s really going to come down to you and possibly your parents and future in-laws weighing in on who should go where. But let’s start with the other details first:
What size/shape tables do you want?
Depending on the size and shape of your tables, you’ll want to work with your caterer/wedding rental company to determine how many tables the room can fit and then how many people can be seated at each. A good rule of thumb is to make sure tables are 60” away from each other and 30” from a wall. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be an architect and map out the dimensions. Just ask your venue and/or caterer how many tables can typically fit in the space and what your options are. They should know this.
Below are typical guidelines for table sizes. It’s always better to err on the lower end of the maximum capacity so people don’t feel cramped!
- 6’: 6-8 (depending on whether you use the ends of the table)
- 8’: 8-10 (depending on whether you use the ends of the table)
- 30”: up to 4
- 48”: up to 6
- 54″: 6-8
- 60”: 8-10
- 66″: 9-11
- 72”: 10-12
OK. Now where should people sit?
Once you know how many tables you’ll have and how many people they can seat, you’ll want to start assigning guests to each. While there is wedding software out there that allows you to do this, I’m a fan of a good old sheet of paper and pencil. You can also write each table number on a sheet of paper and write guests names on sticky notes so you can move them around. Or, you can start an Excel doc and have each column be a table number and copy/paste guests from your guest list into each.
Let’s start with where you and your new hubby should sit. If you know you want a sweetheart table (a table for just the bride and groom ) then you’ve got that one checked off the list. Otherwise you’ve got a couple options. We chose to sit at a a round family table in the middle of the room with our parents and other relatives. Remember that you’ll want whatever table you sit at near the center of the room and easily accessible for guests who want to come over and say hi.
Want some online help? These seating chart tools will definitely make your life easier!
Here is who our family table included:
Bride Uncle No. 1
Bride Uncle No. 2
Note that our siblings, cousins and their spouses all sat at a different table, and our groomsmen and bridesmaids were all seated at different tables with their respective friend groups. We also had my husband’s mom and stepmom at the same table. The bottom line is you should do what feels most comfortable for you, your groom, and your families when it comes to who sits where. Obviously it’s important to take everybody’s feelings and relationships into consideration when planning a seating chart, but chances are everybody will just be happy to be there and won’t really care WHERE they’re sitting. And if they do, hand them another glass of wine and give them a hug! 🙂
Other wedding seating arrangements include:
Bridal Table: This table would seat the bride and groom and attendants, or depending on the size of the table the bride and groom and maid of honor and best man and their significant others.
Family Tables: The bride and groom’s parents can sit together along with officiants, grandparents, and other close friends or family members. Each set of parents can also “host” close friends and family members at their own tables.
Friend Tables: It’s usually best to seat groups of friends together that are close, but it’s also OK to add in couples or other single guests whom you think will get along with one another.
Kids: If there are several kids in attendance, you’ll want to create a separate kids tables. If you only have 1 or 2 you’ll want to seat them with their parents (or send them home! Just kidding. Kind of).
A couple tips that are obvious but should be noted:
Always seat couples together, and take guests disabilities into consideration. For example, you’ll want to seat a guest near an exit if they frequently need to get up, or in a quieter area of the room away from the music if they are hard of hearing.
Keep in mind that while this part of the planning process will most likely be taking place in the home stretch when there are a million details to put together, IT WILL GET DONE. Once your final guest tally comes in, get together with your groom and take these steps along with input from your parents and it will be done before you know it! I promise.