Guest Blog

Are You Sitting Comfortably..? Tackling The Seating Plan!

13th March 2013 | Julia Braime

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No Seating Plan

Always an easy option!  Image sourced via Zoe Lewis via Pinterest

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Ahh, now this is a task that I remember from my own wedding.  It took hours and at the end of it all, I still couldn’t be 100% sure that everyone had a seat… Luckily, it all worked out in the end, and yours will too.  Just try to resist the urge to play matchmaker or seek revenge, and with our regular guest blogger Rachel of Mosaic Brides tips you’ll find the perfect place for everyone. 

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Rachel says: Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

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The task of planning a wedding sees a bride and groom go through many different emotions, ranging from excitement and happiness, right through to anxiety and despair.

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Drawing up the dreaded seating plan usually stirs up the latter emotions causing a couple to endure sleepless nights and countless arguments as they debate where best to place guests in order to avoid family feuds, disapproving looks and Pinot Grigio-fuelled outbursts.

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The wedding breakfast is a main feature of the big day and a carefully constructed seating plan can be key to achieving the desired atmosphere. While there is no right or wrong way to approach this tedious task, the following might help…

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First things first…

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It might be the job you’re dreading most but don’t keep putting it off. In the first instance talk to the wedding coordinator at your chosen venue to find out what size and shape tables you will have for your celebration and how best to arrange them to accommodate your guests. From here you can set to work on a draft seating plan which you can then amend at a later date when you know exactly who will be attending. To save time (and perhaps an entire rainforest) it’s a good idea to draw up a seating plan on a computer rather than by hand, that way if you make a mistake you don’t have to draw it all out again. Better still, there are handy seating plan tools available online which can make the job a whole lot easier by allowing you to make changes at the click of a button and amend right up until the last minute.

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Taking Centre Stage…

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Seating plans usually begin with the top table and deciding whether or not to have one. For those who want to stick to tradition the top table is usually made up of eight places; the bride and groom, flanked by the bride’s parents, then the groom’s parents, followed by the best man and chief bridesmaid. For those with divorced parents who have remarried the top table may need extending a little. Alternatively to avoid seating parents in close proximity who do not see eye-to-eye, you could have a top table made up of the bridesmaids and groomsmen leaving parents to join family tables.

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Another option is to have a ‘sweet heart’ table just for the bride and groom which will allow you to spend some precious time together as husband and wife during the reception. Couples with children may want to seat them at the sweet heart table too.  Meanwhile other brides and grooms have been known to invite certain guests to join them at their table for certain courses.

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Shake things up…

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Most couples ask themselves the question of whether to mix guests up or to keep family and friend groups confine to separate tables.

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The aim of many couples is to create an enjoyable atmosphere by seating guests where they will feel most comfortable and where conversation will flow freely. This usually means putting those of similar ages with common interests together. So beyond close family and friends, who are generally seated closet to the top table, there might be tables of extended family, family friends, childhood friends, university friends and colleagues.

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Those who do want to mix things up will need to decide how best to do it. Perhaps you could take a couple of guests from each of the different groups and place them on a table together with a bridesmaid or groomsman acting as ‘host’. There is also the option of drawing up different seating plans for different courses so guests move tables and mingle with others (though this one sounds like a recipe for indigestion). 

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Be clear…

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In order to help things run smoothly on the day clearly display a seating plan in the entrance to the reception room directing guests to their allocated places. Also be sure to exhibit table names/numbers clearly and use place cards with first and surnames to avoid confusion.

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Turn the tables…

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For some grabbing a seat scenarios should only be experienced on Ryanair flights but for others it’s seen as a simple solution to the seating plan headache – take inspiration from the image at the head of this feature and let your guests decide where to sit. While this approach is highly likely to cause chaos in formal dining settings it can work well for more relaxed wedding breakfasts such as barbecue buffets and outdoor picnics.

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And remember – you can only do so much to encourage a good atmosphere – the rest is down to your guests.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Image © 2013 Zoe Lewis via Pinterest 

Rachel Parry is editor of Mosaic Brides and a regular guest blogger for Brides Up North

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comments

  • March 14, 2013 | Permalink | Reply

    That’s easily one of the most comprehensive posts I have read about seating arrangements. Thanks to Rachel, she has wonderfully underlined the problems and addressed them logically.

  • March 18, 2013 | Permalink | Reply

    Brilliant advice and some fab ideas here. My top tip with seating plans is more about the production of the ‘plan’ – a major task in itself! I’d avoid one completely and use escort cards as an alternative as they can be switched at the last minute for any changes if guests can’t attend etc. And they’re even more exciting to make and display, I think!

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