Should you have a seating chart at your wedding?

It’s not all that common around the Spokane area to have a seating chart for weddings. We like things nice and casual and since most weddings around here serve buffet meals (instead of plated dinners), the seating chart is not really a necessity. But after having lived in other parts of the world where seating charts are the norm, I have to say, I am a huge fan. I know they don’t work for every wedding, but I think it’s definitely something every bride should consider.

A while back I had a reader ask if I would do a post about the pros and cons of a seating chart, so today that’s what we’re going to do!

Seating Chart tips

Why you might WANT a seating chart…

  1. Ensure that your guests feel comfortable. If you make a seating chart, one of the most important aspects (and maybe the hardest) is sitting the right guests with each other. This will help dinnertime conversation flow and keep your guests entertained. You should make sure people who know each other are seated near one another. If one of your guests doesn’t know anyone at the wedding, find them a seat near people with similar interests.
  2. No empty tables! A seating chart guarantees that all your guests have places to sit and you don’t having gaping holes (ie one table with three people and one with 12).
  3. Smooth sailing. It will be a comfort to your guests to know exactly where they are sitting, especially if they came by themselves or don’t know very many people. A seating chart gives them a sense of place and some new insta-friends!
  4. Set a more formal vibe. Having assigned seats will automatically set a more formal tone for your wedding. You’ve spent months (or years!) planning this event, a seating chart is a sure way to show your guests how much thought you’ve put into every detail, including their comfort.
  5. Keep your wedding drama free! You know your Uncle Burt hasn’t spoken to Aunt Maggie in 10 years and that your step-mom can’t be anywhere near your mother, a seating chart allows you to keep these feuds from erupting on your special day by sitting the possible troublemakers FAR apart from each other.

seating chart tipsPhoto via SMP by Lisa Devlin Photography

Why you might NOT need a seating chart…

  1. Intimate wedding. If your wedding is smaller than 50 people and consists primarily of family and close friends who already know each other, than a seating chart is probably not necessary.
  2. No sit down meal. You don’t need a seating chart if you’re just serving hors d’oeuvres, dessert or small bites at your reception and not a full meal.
  3. Keeping things casual. One of the things that makes weddings in the Northwest special is that we thrive on keeping things laid back and casual. If formal is really not your thing, then having casual seating will work best.
  4. Not a typical venue. Some venues might not be conducive to a seating chart. If you’re venue doesn’t have a standard table size, has a bunch of broken up rooms or is a restaurant, I would skip the seating chart.
  5. Encourage mingling. Sometimes assigned seating gives guests an excuse to stay planted at their seat all night, letting them choose their own seats might be a good way to encourage them to meet other people.

seating chart ideasPhoto via One Wed by Jessamyn Harris Photography

Tips for making a seating chart:

This can be tricky business, be sure to tread carefully!

  • Think about personalities. The most important thing about making a seating chart is to consider each guests interests and seat them accordingly.
  • Seat close family near the head table. Parents, grandparents and siblings should all be seated the closest to the head table.
  • Don’t have a singles table! This is an easy mistake to make, but it’s best to avoid sitting all the singles at one table. Varying the tables with couples and singles will make the experience richer (but be sure not to seat one single with a table of couples!).
  • Create table groups. It’s ok if friends aren’t seated right next to each other or at the same table, sit them at tables close to each other and you will encourage mingling before and after dinner.
  • Every guest should know someone. Each person at the table should know at least one other person at the table.
  • Assign tables instead of seats. If you want to save yourself some time and effort, you could always assign tables to your guests and let them choose their own seats.

For step by step instructions about how to make a DIY seating chart check out this post on Something Turquoise (below photo)…

seating chart

Do you have any other seating chart tips?

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