One of the most stress inducing parts of the wedding planning process is figuring out where to seat all of your guests. Between family feuds, keeping older guests happy and figuring out where to put exes so they don’t run into one another–it can truly drive you crazy. Luckily, these 11 tips should make setting up your guest seating a breeze.
1. Get the layout from your venue. Before creating your seating plan, you should get a copy of the floor plan from the venue. You might even want to make a few copies of it so you can experiment with different arrangements to see what will work best.
2. Wait until everyone has RSVP’d. Don’t add to your stress by trying to figure out where to seat everyone before you have your final head count (or at least as close to it as you can get). You can always add a few late responders here and there, but trying to do the seating before you know who is actually coming is a waste of time.
3. Figure out where you’ll be sitting first. The bride and groom are the most important guests, so figure out where you and your new spouse would like to sit before planning the rest of the seating plan. Some couples opt to sit at a “head table” with the wedding party (their dates usually sit at a separate table); or the newlyweds can sit at a “sweetheart table” for two, with the wedding party and their dates at a nearby table.
4. Ask for some input. You probably want to ask both sets of parents for their advice on where to sit certain relatives and their friends that might be attending the wedding. They’ll have the inside scoop on who doesn’t get along, who’ll have the most fun sitting together, etc.
6. Assign tables, not seats. Once you assign guests to a table, let them pick their seats. It will not only save you time, but also money since you’ll skip the added expense of place cards.
7. Group people accordingly. You can make the process of seating friends easier by grouping them by how you know them: childhood, high school, college, work, etc.
8. Skip the singles table. While you might be tempted to have this—especially if you’d like to hook up a few of your solo pals–don’t do it. No one enjoys being singled out (no pun intended) by being banished to this table.
9. But have a kids’ table. If you’re having a few kids at the wedding, designate a kids’ table with crayons, coloring books, etc. to keep the little ones occupied. However, if you’re only having a flower girl and ring bearer, then simply seat them with their parents.
10. Take age into consideration. Your older guests probably won’t be happy sitting right next to the band or the DJ, so seat younger guests near the dance floor and older guests a little further away (but not so far away that they won’t be tempted to get up and dance a bit).
11. Mix it up. There’s no rule that says the bride’s guests have to be on one side of the room, while the groom’s people are on the other. Instead, you can use your seating plan to introduce people with similar interests and backgrounds–giving both sides of the families and friends a chance to mix and mingle with one another.
For more wedding advice, check out the wedding items you should never book or buy online and 9 reasons to consider having a destination wedding.