Wedding Planning 101: How to Create Your Seating Chart

 Photography:  Melissa Oholendt

Photography: Melissa Oholendt

Creating your seating chart is a tedious wedding planning task that can definitely be overwhelming. It’s one of the few things in the planning process that your wedding planner may not be able to do for you. {You know your guests best!} To streamline the process of creating your seating chart, we’ve created a list of tips and tricks to ease the process.

Harvest Table

Gone is the traditional head table with the wedding party lining one side of the table. Harvest, or barron’s tables as they are often called, are far more popular, with the bride and groom either on the end or in the middle facing their guests and their wedding party, and possibly spouses or guests, seated with them around the entire table.  Flower girls, ring bearers, personal attendants and ushers are not generally seated at this table.  

Depending on the layout of the room, we don’t recommend more than 24 people at a harvest table or it gets too large and creates, in essence, a wall in your room that inhibits the flow.  Though you can set four guests along the side of each eight foot table, we recommend three at a harvest table to allow a little extra room.  

Traditionally, the groom sits to the bride’s right and the best man to her left. The maid of honor sits to the groom’s right. The rest of the table should be filled with the bridal party and groomsmen alternating male/female. If you have a smaller head table, seat the best man and maid of honor with their significant others at your table and seat the remaining wedding party and their plus-ones at another table.

Family Tables

Family tables can be organized multiple ways, depending on your family dynamics. Divorced parents generally prefer to host their own tables.  Each side then gets their table.  Immediate family not at the harvest table are generally seated at this table.  If immediate families are too large and if the future in-laws are close, both sets of parents and grandparents can be seated at one table and immediate families at other tables nearby.  

Friends and Other Guests

Seating the remainder of your guests is the most time consuming part of this process. Use this as your opportunity to play matchmaker between your guests. Seating people whom you think will get along well will ensure guests are having a good time and could even spark new relationships. A key tactic here is to make sure you are not mixing it up too much though. Guests will want to sit with familiar faces so be sure they know at least a few people at the table.

If you have multiple children attending your wedding, consider creating a kids table and seating them all together. {Of course, hire supervision for this table!}  If there are too few children coming to create a separate table, seat them with their parents.

Count and Table Placement

It’s always tricky to know how many guests you can seat at a round table.  We recommend eight guests at a 60” round table and 10 at a 72” round.  If you need to add that 9th or 11th person to round out a group, it can be done, but I would never suggest adding two guests to the counts above.  

Keep in mind you don’t need to wait for every last RSVP to start assigning guests to tables.  Group them in logical clusters and keep adding as you go. Once everyone is grouped and you know your final table count, then you may proceed with assigning them to table locations in the room.  Trying to accomplish both tasks at once is just too overwhelming!

 

If you have multiple children attending your wedding, consider creating a kids table and seating them all together. {Of course, hire supervision for this table!}  If there are too few children coming to create a separate table, seat them with their parents.

 

Count and Table Placement

It’s always tricky to know how many guests you can seat at a round table.  We recommend eight guests at a 60” round table and 10 at a 72” round.  If you need to add that 9th or 11th person to round out a group, it can be done, but I would never suggest adding two guests to the counts above.  

 

Keep in mind you don’t need to wait for every last RSVP to start assigning guests to tables.  Group them in logical clusters and keep adding as you go.  Once everyone is grouped and you know your final table count, then you may proceed with assigning them to table locations in the room.  Trying to accomplish both tasks at once is just too overwhelming!

 Photography:  Melissa Oholendt

Photography: Melissa Oholendt

Escort and Place Cards

After deciding on where your guests will sit, you can begin to figure out how you will lead them to their seats. There are a few different options here: escort cards, place cards, or a seating chart.

Escort cards are the most formal way to direct guests to their seat. This is the card that assigns your guest to a table.  They vary in formality.  The most elegant presentation is a calligraphed envelope with the guest’s name and a card with their table number inside.  Or, add the table number to the outside and include a personal note in the envelope to add that special touch!  Often, bi-fold cards are used as escort cards but there are many ways to be creative. Be sure to include a meal indicator on the escort card, unless you plan to also use place cards.  

Place cards can be used by themselves or with escort cards. These {often} tented cards list the guest’s name and meal selection and are displayed at each place setting.  If you plan to have a menu at each place setting, you may vary the menu’s look as the meal indicator and have the guest name calligraphed on top.  Be sure to check with your caterer on what they will allow.  

Seating charts can be displayed at the entrance to shows guests their table number. Keep in mind that if you have a plated meal, you will need to use place cards with meal indicators at each table.  

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start drafting up your seating chart! We recommend creating a spreadsheet, or if you’re not as tech savvy, a good ol’ paper chart works great too!