Anyone who has ever hosted a wedding will tell you that one of, if not the, most dreaded task of planning is creating the seating chart. Perhaps it's because it can only be done towards the end of planning when couples have a ton of other things to attend to and are frankly over it. Or, maybe it's that they're dealing with family and friends that love them, but not each other, and are struggling to avoid tumultuous tables. It may simply be that it's not fun to rank your loved ones - as many couples feel they're forced to do - and would rather not tell someone, "I want you to attend my wedding, but only as much as my crazy aunt I don't speak to... she's to your left". While we can't take all the pain away from creating the seating chart for your wedding - think of it as a right of passage - we do have a few steps to follow to make creating a seating chart that works for everyone hurt a little less.
No. 1 Start with yourself
You've gotta start somewhere and often times the best place to start is with yourself. Ease into the decision making by deciding whether you want a sweetheart table, a great option for couples who hope to steal a few moments alone over the course of the night, or a head table, a perfect way to share the night with your closest friends.
No. 2 Consider logistics
Once you've figured out what kind of table you'll be seated at it's time to think about your guests. Keep in mind the some details about the tables you'll be using - the size of the tables and whether or not you'll have endcaps are particularly useful to know- then decide if you want to assign seats or just tables.
No. 3 ...then systematically work your way outward
Now it's time to go through your guest list and do some organizing. This part tends to make a lot of couples uncomfortable, but it's necessary. You don't need to rank your loved ones one by one, instead use the circles method to separate your guests into tiers. For example, your tier one guests may include your bridal party, each of your nuclear families, and closest friends. Tier two could be comprised of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and some of your sorority sisters. And last, but not least, tier three might have work friends, neighbors, guests your parents insisted on etc. This method gives you smaller, less daunting sets to work with and automatically prioritizes which guests should be assigned a seat or table first.
No. 4 Be Fair
Perhaps in the magical land where weddings were planned without a single tear shed and went off without a hitch there exists a venue without a bad seat in the house... honestly, I'm doubtful. Even the most beautiful venues will have less than perfect seats, my advice: play fair and share them. (This is especially if you aren't splitting the invites 50/50. If your partner has allowed you more than your fair share be thankful and place your extra guests in the seats in the back.) Divide tables into tiers based on desirability. A great way to ensure things stay fair is to split "top tier" tables, that will also lead to mingling between families, and can be a real life saver for interracial weddings where not sharing family tables could lead to awkward, unintentionally segregated tables...yikes.
No. 5 ... And Thoughtful
Chances are there will be a number of guests requiring certain accommodations at your wedding. Keep these accommodations in mind when preparing your seating chart. Whether it's an elderly relative placed near a bathroom, or families with children seated away from speakers, your guests will surely appreciate the consideration. Additionally, consider the implications of your table choices. Take a minute to think about the personalities of the people at each table, if you think there's a potential clash there, avoid it!
No. 6 Use Charts
A good old fashioned chart- literally just poster board, some sharpies, and Post-It notes - is sometimes the best way to get started with table or seat assignments. Start with a picture of the table layout for your venue. Color code tables and guests by previously designated tiers and go back and forth sticking them on the board. Two pro-tips to keep you sane, (1) don't go guest by guest, instead group people in 2s or 4s, and (2) establish a rule about how many times you can move guests around - yes, you can break it if you must - to avoid getting stuck.
No. 7 or an app
If you're more of a techy, the same can be done with a number of different apps. Wedding Wire has an easy to use drag and drop seating chart tool, Tablerrr offers smart seating to help form sensible seating charts based on relationships to the bride and groom, and Top Table Planner even allows you to indicate meal presence! Explore which option is best for you and let the app do some of the work for you.
No. 8 Ask for an outside opinion to look over everything once you're done
A pair of fresh eyes - ideally one that knows your family dynamics - doing a once over after you've finished your chart can be incredibly valuable. If that's not possible, don't fret! Remember, your friends and family are ultimately there to celebrate you and that comes before any drama or tension.
Creating a seating chart for your wedding won't be easy, but following the steps above will lessen the burden on you and your hubby to be. Once you're done with the chart check out these tips for unique DIY escort cards your guests will love!