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Ten Tips Toward a Wedding Reception Seating Chart

Oct 11, 2007
Designing a seating chart for your wedding reception is difficult if you do not have a plan. Likewise, you need a straightforward understanding of tradition and how the rules of decorum impact your choices. It is difficult, but it is also valuable because a wedding meal often lasts for two or more hours. As a result, your wedding will have the greatest likelihood of success and the smallest potential for a disaster if you carefully consider your seating arrangement.

Of course, the seating arrangement of the head table is your first and, quite possibly, your easiest decision. How do you want to seat your groomsmen and bridesmaids? Do you want to pair them? Do you want to have all the bridesmaids on the side of the bride and the groomsmen beside the groom just as they were in the ceremony? Do you want parents and grandparents at the head table?

Or would you prefer to simply plan a romantic table for two like in a Parisian cafe. It could be just the two of you, or your whole bridal party could be at small tables around you. Or...? Do not hesitate to enjoy planning the seating chart for the head table. A little originality could go a long way toward making your wedding celebration unforgettable.

Designing the seating plan for the rest of your guests is a bit more challenging, but with persistence you can find a practical arrangement. Here are ten tips to assist you in achieving success.

1. Focus on what will make the most people happy. That is the goal after all, isn't it?
2. Place close family and friends closest to the bride and groom. This protects against hurt feelings.
3. When assigning specific seats, be sure to use place cards. This can be done with 'tent' cards or if you choose you can develop the theme of your wedding decor by choosing place card holders.
4. When using round tables couples are traditionally seated next to each other and then seated in the same alternating male, female pattern.
5. When using long tables, couples are customarily seated opposite each other and in an alternating male, female pattern.
6. Avoid tables that are a sole family group. Part of the idea is to get your guests to mingle with the rest of your guests. Though you are attempting to seat your guests in such a way that they are comfortable, you cannot forget the other goal - getting your guests to mingle. You have to find a proper balance.
7. Make sure that everybody is seated with someone they know well enough to be comfortable with.
8. Where feasible cluster your guests (especially those who do not know each other) by interests to encourage interaction. For example, you have a friend from college who will be attending who is an avid skier and your groom has cousins who everyone says lives on the slopes. This might be a good pairing.
9. When similar interests are not known, you could potentially achieve the same thing by designating your reception tables by the names of significant places to you along with a story about why that place is significant in your life. It might spark some conversations and for those in the back it is better than sitting at table number '43'!
10. Do have fun seating singles together, but do not be obvious and avoid at all costs a table just for single people. Such an arrangement is exceptionally uncomfortable for most everyone at the table.

Start work on designing your seating chart immediately after making your guest list up and finding out whether your guests will be seated at long tables or smaller round tables. You can do this simply by buying a bag of poker chips and write each guest's name on a chip. Then you can set up a table with the layout of your wedding reception hall on it so you can lay your seating chart out visually and easily revise it as often as you need to revise it. Another option is to use a spread sheet like Excel to lay out your seating arrangement. You can even find software to help you with the process of planning your wedding reception seating chart.

However you do it, the key is that you take the time to start designing your seating chart now. The benefits will come in a smoother wedding reception celebrating your new marriage.
About the Author
Jeanette Shinn is a wedding professional with over a dozen years experience making dreams come alive. Find tips and accessories from crystal jewelry for wedding cakes to useful magnetic save the date cards at http://www.ExcitingWeddingFavors.com.
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