Choosing Your Seating Method
There are four main ways to handle seating at your reception:
- First come, first served seating where guests choose their own tables
- Open seating with a selection of reserved tables for the wedding party and immediate families.
- Assigning tables and giving your guests the option of which seat to choose
- Assigning both tables and seats with wedding place cards
Ensuring an Accurate Head Count
It's impossible to plan a seating chart well if you're not completely certain who will be attending the reception, making your Reply Cards every bit as important as your invitations and save the dates. When selecting the wording for the reply cards to accompany your personalized embossed stationery or other wedding stationery, be sure that your cards:
- Make it clear who is invited. If children are included, specifically list their names on the invitation. If you're allowing single guests to bring along escorts, the invitation should be clearly labeled "and Guest."
- Provide a line for guests to write the specific names of who will be coming.
- Ask for a meal selection, if necessary.
- Clearly state when a reply is expected by.
Creating a System
To de-stress your seating plan, you'll need to develop a system that works for you and suits your wedding theme. If you're having assigned seating, guests will appreciate a seating chart that will direct them to their tables. This should be placed in a prominent location, such as near your guest book or your personalized signature frame, if you choose to have one. A more formal alternative is the use of escort cards, which are typically inserted into envelopes labeled with guests' names.
If you're only having assigned tables, having your wedding place cards situated at the back of the room and labeled with table numbers is an easy way to handle seating. Your wedding place card holders can even double as favors if you use something like personalized picture frames for wedding place cards. Frames are available in a wide variety of styles to suit your theme, such as our Dramatic Black Photo Frame & Place Card Holder Wedding Favor for a black-and-white wedding or our Twig Place Card Holder and Photo Frame for a rustic, outdoor setting. When selecting wedding place cards and wedding place card holders, choose something that will complement the other elements on your tables, such as your personalized cocktail napkins.
Starting Your Plan
Once you've developed your seating system, you'll be ready to start your seating plan. You can use index cards, a computer-based program or the reply cards themselves to organize your tables. Begin by seating the bridal party, their escorts and your immediate family members, such as parents, grandparents and any siblings not in the wedding. Then, group together relatives, coworkers and friends who know one another. Finally, fill in tables with people who are not yet acquainted with other people at the wedding.
Sometimes, the key to de-stressing the seating chart is to ask someone for help. An extra set of hands and someone else's opinions can go a long way to simplifying the process. Don't be afraid to ask a member of your wedding party, a family member or a close friend to assist you. They'll likely be more than happy to help, and you can graciously thank them after your big day with a thoughtful gift such as personalized stationery or a luxuriously fragrant candle.