Whether you’re a couple about to get married or you’re a wedding planner, you would probably love to find a template for your wedding seating chart to make the table assignments process easier and stress-free. If so, you may be wondering:
- Where can I download a template for my wedding seating chart?
- How do I assign the table assignments in my wedding seating chart?
- Who should I assign to a table first in my wedding seating chart?
- How should I set up the template for my wedding seating chart?
Wedding table and seat assignments can be a dramatic endeavor fraught with tension and disorganization. Lucky for you, in today's blog post, we're reviewing the basics of wedding table seat assignments. I'm also providing you with a template for your wedding seating chart!
If you're new around here, hi, I'm Desiree. I'm a wedding planner based in Rochester, New York and the host of the podcast Ask the Planner. I've been doing seating for events and weddings for longer than my skincare routine would have me admit). I can't wait to help you with this important topic for wedding planning.
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EPISODE 61HIGHLIGHTS: Wedding Table & Seat Assignments 101
To fast-forward to a specific part of the podcast episode, check out the timestamps below:
- Life update: Waterpark mishaps [07:55]
- Paper and pencil Approach [12:58]
- Social Tables Tactic [17:56]
- How to Organize your Guests [22:00]
- Seating Chart Etiquette [25:07]
- Personal Account: Don't Separate Couples [27:54]
- Tips for the Wedding Day! [32:17]
- Episode recap [34:24]
Links Mentioned in the Episode
- The Ultimate Wedding Planning checklist
- Visit the ASK THE PLANNER Wedding Planning Templates Shop
- @AskthePlannerPodcast on Instagram
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And if you prefer to read, here's the summary of the podcast episode!
I’m excited to share this blog with you because I personally love seating. Making a wedding seating chart feels like a big giant puzzle to me. I find it very cathartic to put together different floorplans in the space. And then I think it’s actually kind of fun to plop each little body into their seat. But I get not everyone’s like me.
So today we’re going to talk about 4 main things when planning your wedding seating chart:
- Tools to make your wedding seating chart, whether you’re a paper and pencil or tech-savvy type of person, I have a solution for you.
- The seat assignment process – who you should seat first, second, and so on.
- Etiquette to consider for your wedding seating chart
- Organizational tips for your wedding day
1: Templates for Your Wedding Seating Chart
Before we dive into the actual seating, first I’m going to talk about what you’ll need to track your seating.
- Paper and Pencil
- Excel Spread Sheet
- Social Tables
Okay, now the old-fashioned way to do seating was with paper and pencil. Some people like to do it this way because they’re visual and they don’t like tech. I personally think this is the slowest, but if you're tackling seating all in one weekend with your parents, this method could work.
To do this, type out each person’s name and put them on a strip of paper that you will then cut out. You could also write them all on small sticky notes. I recommend putting one name per sheet, instead of by couple so you can see quickly how many you have at each table.
Next, you would either draw circles on a poster board or use paper plates. These circles or paper plates represent your tables. Hopefully, they’re laid out like the floorplan of the room where your wedding reception will be.
Then you would move the sticky notes to each plate based on where you want them to sit. Once you're done assigning each sticky note to a plate, you would then record them in a spreadsheet to give to your calligrapher or to upload to Minted for your escort cards.
2: Spreadsheet for Your Wedding Seating Chart
The next way to set up your wedding seating chart is with a spreadsheet. Across the top of the columns, you have Seat #, Table Number, First Name, Last Name, Meal Selection, and Notes. Next, you would look at your floorplan and number each table. I like to start with Table 1 closest to the main doors. Table 2 is next to it on the right, and so on. However, the important thing here is not to number your tables based on rows. Instead, you need to snake the numbers around the room.
So for example, say I had 3 rows of 5 tables each. Table 1 is on the far left. Table 2 is next, all the way to table 5 on the far right.
Table 6 would be right next to Table 5 in the row adjacent to it. It would NOT be under Table #1 because guests don’t move around the room like that.
Next you would go down the first and second columns and number them by the number of seats at each table. So if Tables 1 and 2 had 8 seats each and table 3 had 10 seats, you would number it as follows.
First seat, table 1.
Second seat, table 1.
Third seat, table 1. etc etc.
You would do the same for Table 2.
You would do this for as many tables you have in the room – not based on how many guests you will because some tables will have 1 or 2 open seats depending on how the couples and singles shake out.
3: Using Social Tables for Your Wedding Seating Chart
The third and final template or tool to set up your wedding seating chart is my favorite and uses a tool called Social Tables.
Social Tables is a seating platform that I’ve been using since I can remember – over a decade now. I used to actually appear on their marketing videos long, long ago when I lived in D.C. as they were just starting out and my company worked with them closely to get the platform up and running.
Social Tables is great because they have a spreadsheet import tool that takes your guest list and adds it to the platform before you assign everyone to a seat.
Then, you take each little person and just drag and drop them to a table. So it’s like our Analog version of paper plates and sticky notes, but much faster and wastes less paper.
Once you’ve dragged and dropped each person onto a table, you can export the list and give it to your calligrapher to write out your wedding seating chart.
You can either track all your RSVPs in social tables with everyone’s meal selection or you can track it outside of Social Tables and import it into the platform so that when it spits out your report, it also has everyone’s meal selection with their table assignment.
Here's a video on the Social Tables website to help you get started.
Wedding Seating Chart How-To
Okay, now that we’ve talked about the ways to set up your seating chart, let’s talk about how to go about assigning everyone to a table.
1) Assign Your VIPs to a Table
Naturally, you'll want to assign yourself and your partner to a table. Will you be sitting with your wedding guests or at a sweetheart table?
Next, decide if you’ll be sitting with your wedding party or your family.
There’s no right or wrong way to assign this. It will really depend on how big your wedding party is and how big your family is.
I’ve had it where the couple sat with their siblings and their parents all at the head table and they only needed 10 seats. Then their wedding party, which was small, sat at the tables next to them.
You could also do the reverse and sit with all of your wedding party. Then, your parents can sit together to allow them more time to visit with one another and bask in their children's nuptials.
If there are too many at the head table because some of your parents have remarried, consider giving each of your parents their own tables to host. Then, they can sit with their siblings or your godparents, their siblings, etc. It’s up to you as you know the family dynamics. If your parents aren’t seated next to you, make sure all their tables are equidistant to yours so no one feels slighted. You can even make it so that the parents are seated so that they face your table so they get the best view of you. It all depends on how much you thought you want to put into it.
2) Assign Family or Friend Groups to a Table Second
After you've assigned your VIPs to their tables, next you and your partner should assign friend groups and important family members. Start with whoever is more important and where you want them to sit. Do you want your friends to sit closer to you or do you want to give them a seat closer to the bar?
Do you want your family to be close to your parents or will they want to be closer to the dance floor? Do you want to prioritize your aunts and uncles over third cousins? There are lots of different scenarios to consider.
3) Assign Your Remaining Guests
These are the people that you care less about where they sit but they need a place to sit. You can use them to fill in holes in the tables, or they get their own table. It really depends on how many there are.
If the remaining people are friends of your parents, ask them to help guide you on where and with whom they should sit.
Other than that, just be patient and be open to moving people around based on how many you can seat at a table.
Seating Chart Etiquette
Of course we can't discuss table and seating chart assignments without touching on etiquette and do’s and don’ts of seat assignments.
1) Seat people together that have like or common interests.
You don’t always have to seat all your high school friends with only other high school friends. Definitely make sure someone has a friend at each table, but consider mixing it up so that guests can get to know other guests at the wedding.
2) Avoid Having a Singles table.
Even if they’re part of your “leftovers” meaning they didn’t fit into a specific category or they don’t know a lot of people, make sure you take them into consideration and seat them with people of similar interests or backgrounds. Or if someone is particularly quiet or shy, seat them with someone that will be warm and inviting. I’m not advocating for seating them with the most gregarious and talkative of the group, but putting them with someone that will engage them and include them in the conversation will make them feel appreciated and thought of, which will go a long way in how they enjoy the evening.
3) Consider Having a Kids Table
It can be nice for younger guests to be seated with their peers. They’ll enjoy having company with people near them in age. You can even provide them with coloring sheets or another age-appropriate activity. This will also help the servers avoid unknowingly setting a glass of champagne at their seat if they know it’s a kids table.
Just try not to seat them too far from their parents so they can keep a close watch on them and avoid any mishaps from taking place.
4) Avoid Separating Couples
I’ve talked about this in past blog posts, but please DO NOT SEPARATE COUPLES. Do not seat one person in your wedding party at your head table and then put their spouse, partner, or date at another table.
First of all, it’s rude. You’re basically telling the other person that they’re second class and they don’t get to sit with their husband, wife, or girlfriend. While they’re there to celebrate you, they’re also there to enjoy a nice evening with their significant other. Nothing will ruin that faster than making them sit at different tables.
This happened to me once and I will never forget it. My husband, to whom I’d been married for seven years, was seated with the bride and groom. I was seated at a table with my back to him you know so I could turn around all night and talk to him and not talk to the people at my table.
The couple also sat another wife next to me because her husband was also seated at the head table (my husband was a long-time friend and the other husband was a cousin / close friend). But if I’d known I wasn’t going to sit with my husband, I might not have hired a babysitter and stayed home with the kids.
Maybe that’s selfish on my part, but I’ve mentioned this on Instagram and other places and other people have passionately agreed with me that they hated it when it happened to them.
Remember: People remember how you make them feel, so make sure you consider this when you assign people to their tables.
Tips for Wedding Day
And that brings us to our final segment, which is tips for the wedding day.
1) Bring Extra Copies of Your Wedding Seating Chart
I’ll keep this part brief. The main thing is to have extra copies of your seating chart for your caterer and wedding planners so they know where guests are in case they need to locate them.
2) Note Allergies and Dietary Restrictions on Your Wedding Seating Chart
Make sure you note any allergies or dietary restrictions in your seating chart. Your calligrapher likely won’t need this, but your caterer definitely will.
3) Note the Open Seats on Your Wedding Seating Chart
Finally, make sure you note ahead of time where there are open seats at tables. For example, if most of your tables can seat 8 but you had a couple that only needed 7 seats, make sure you note that in case you have any last-minute guests show up and you need a place for them. This will let you know where you can shuffle some guests around and avoid putting guests at an already full table. And seriously, pay attention to the seating chart. You can only physically fit so many at a table. There’s only so much room for china, flatware, and glassware. At a certain point, it will be comical and messy. So try to avoid overloading one table.
If you have questions about any of this, I would love to know. Just leave a review of the podcast on Apple Podcasts and write your questions in the review and I’ll incorporate them into a future episode. If there are specific guests you want me to interview or topics you want me to cover in a future episode, let me know who that is in your review, too!
If you want even more help with your wedding planning, I’m only a phone call away, and you can schedule a 90-minute clarity call with me where we’ll talk through a specific issue or question you have.
For those of you that are excited to plan your wedding on your own, check out my Ultimate Wedding Planning checklist in the Wedding Planning Templates Shop. It’s one of my most popular items and for a good reason!
If there’s something that you’re looking for that’s not in the shop, just let me know. I want to create resources that you want and that will help you!
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