Are we seated comfortably?
Do you really need a seating plan at your wedding? Surely your guests are more than capable of seating themselves?
Wanting your day to run smoothly is a wish for every couple, and venue too! But organising the seating plan can be one of the most stressful and time consuming tasks. Wedding surveys and forums reveal that the majority of guests would prefer to be assigned a seat and increasingly so, the older the person concerned. Scrapping a plan would save time and possibly avoid having to make some sensitive and difficult decisions but rarely does this culminate in a successful outcome.
Perfect Table Plan beautifully sums up the pitfalls of not having a seating plan whilst providing a great guide to seating arrangements. Imagine jackets draped over your painstakingly arranged chair decorations, families being split up or a scene from musical chairs? If you don’t want to formalise too much, considering assigning just the tables and let your guests choose who they wish to sit next to.
Have your guest list ready and as tempting as it may seem, never leave the plan to the night before! Our 5 Seating Plan Considerations should send you in the right direction to creating a fabulously memorable day for you and your guests.
5 Seating Plan Considerations
1. What can your venue provide?
Do you have the choice of different rooms depending on the number of guests? Are there various table shapes you can use? What will be best suited to the catering that you are providing? We love Brides Magazine's 6 Wedding Food Ideas & Reception Meal Styles to Consider. Seems like a no brainer, but when you’ve got 101 other things on your mind, the thought of actually asking the venue what they would suggest may slip your mind, but they will know what works best for the space and all the pros and cons!
2. Top table or no top table?
This is a tricky one especially when it comes to parents that are divorced or extended families. A long traditional top table allows a comfortable distance - place one at either end. Alternatively, two separate round tables placed adjacent with parents at each won't display favouritism or exclusion and a sweetheart table, essentially a stand alone table for the bride and groom. These are a great if your bridal party don't want to be separated from their significanct others and the bride and groom want to enjoy the view of all of their guests (whilst whispering sweet nothings), but perhaps not for you if you don't like being the centre of attention.
3. Designated children’s table?
Depending on the age of the children, having a designated table allows for the children to be catered for separately and provides space for activities, a personalised colour in wedding tablecoth gets our vote from Not on the High Street for the younger guests. For the older ones, it's an escape from the banal conversation of parents and makes them feel grown up. For the really little ones, consider space for highchairs and prams as parent and child will most likely sit together and consider whether fellow guests without children would appreciate being sat at the same table.
4. To mix or not to mix?
Mixing guests with the intention of everyone getting to know one another is maybe a tactic best left to evening celebrations or on your guest’s terms. After all, you want everyone to enjoy themselves and being seated next to someone you have nothing in common with can be uncomfortable and not much fun. The same goes for single guests. Although you may wish to do some matchmaking by placing all your single guests on one table it might be more sensitive to place them with known family and friends (avoid an all couples table). By categorising your guests, parents’ friends, University friends etc, you’ll be able to allocate seating more easily and the layout of your venue will become more apparent as the number of people on each table forms.
5. Should I use a seating plan tool?
You will probably need to amend your plan several times so using some sort of tool will help you keep on top of things and your venue or wedding co-ordinator will love you for being organised. Avoid delays from guests trying to find and organise seats, the embarrassment of someone being left out or ending up next to someone they may have a history with. Seating plan tools will help alleviate what can be a stressful part of wedding planning and as many can be shared, used on the go and translated into printed seat plans for your big day it's hard to understand why you wouldn't use one. Be it a spreadsheet, diagram or the latest seating plan tool, knowing that your guests are going to be happy and the celebrations slick, will mean one less thing to worry about.
So, let’s assume you’re onboard with a seating plan. What tools are out there?
5 Helpful Wedding Table Planner Tools
Users of Perfect Table Plan boast sorting their seating chart in an hour with this comprehensive software that offers a free trial. It’s easy to understand why the BBC and the Ritz London use it, with intuitive click, drag and drop functions, menu choice assignment and the ability to play with table sizes. You’re not limited to working online so can make amendments on the go or at the parents.
One of the best online tools favoured by the industry for its simplicity, is Top Table Planner which claims to work on any device with every popular browser making sharing and updating easy and fast. The tool for those less tech savvy where you can import from Word and Excel at the click of a button.
Want to make sure Granny isn’t sat next to the subwoofer or the cake positioned precariously near the main entrance? Use Wedding Mapper’s Guest Manager tool and plot the exact dimensions of your room and where everything (including your cake) will be situated. Great for weddings that have limited space or need to change from ceremony to celebrations.
Hitched.co.uk's Weddiing Planner is free and can be integrated with other planning tools on their site. It's as simple as marking a guest as 'attending' then assigning them a seat. Another with click and drag functionality and as it's based online, you can log-in to it wherever you. Just register your email to open an account and off you go.
For the ultimate seating plan All Seated allows you to produce a 360 view of your venue and even provide a VR experience. If you have family located around the globe or perhaps you can’t visit your venue or you just simply love your tech, then this innovative platform is for you. Great for visualising themes and colour schemes too.
If you prefer to do-it-yourself then apps and websites such as Canva can help with templates and provide a great platform for designing and printing seating charts.
A wedding venue that offers a choice of reception spaces with flexible facilities and seating capacities is the difference between having a great wedding celebration and a truly sensational one. Court Colman Manor have the enviable choice of four reception rooms from the intimate surrounds of the Library licensed for 20 guests to the magnificent Palace of Versailles inspired Ballroom which can comfortably accommodate 120 guests. Court Colman specialise in wedding celebrations with highly experienced wedding co-ordinators who are more than happy to assist in making your day perfect, just like they did for these happy couples – Court Colman Wedding Testimonials.