WEDDING RECEPTION SEATING
CREATING A SEATING PLAN AND SEATING ASSIGNMENTS
If you are having a larger wedding reception a seating plan is usually needed to inject some order into a situation that is easily disorganized. When a large number of guests are suddenly put in unfamiliar surroundings and expected to rapidly figure out where they should be or want to be seated, the result can be somewhat chaotic, resembling a rather panicked game of musical chairs. A seating plan or seating arrangements are usually recommended for wedding receptions.
By organizing the reception seating arrangements in advance you will eliminate much of the guesswork and stress for the wedding guests - and yourself. Also, by placing friends, family and people that have something in common together you will likely help to make the wedding reception much more enjoyable for your wedding guests from beginning to end.
There are 3 basic options when designing the wedding reception seating plan. The 1st option is to create a seating arrangement for just the wedding party head table and the table(s) of honor. The 2nd option is Table Assignment where you simply assign wedding guests to tables but leave the actual seat selection up to the guests. The 3rd option is a Seat Assignment where you actually designate the table and the specific chair that a wedding guest will be seated in.
Which option you select will depend upon how formal or how organized you want your wedding reception to be. In any case, it is a good idea to at the least create a floor plan indicating where the tables and other components of the wedding reception will be placed at the wedding reception facility.
When to Start - You can start working on your wedding reception seating arrangements as soon as the wedding invitation RSVPs start coming in. You can create a basic table and seating chart in advance by utilizing a floor plan you receive from the wedding reception facility. If a floor plan is not available from the facility you can make your own or purchase seating assignment software that will help you with creating your seating arrangements.
How To Start - Since you probably know where the Head Table, the Table of Honor, the Cake Table, the Gift Table, the dance floor and other components will be placed, you can start by including those items on the floor plan to begin creating your table and seating plan chart. If you are having a buffet rather than table service, you will need to find out from the wedding caterer the number and sizes of tables that will be used and where they will be positioned. You will also need to obtain the table sizes and seating capacity from the wedding reception facility or rental company to allow you to determine the required number and the placement of guest tables on your floor plan. Once you have positioned the tables on the floor plan, simply assign the tables numbers. If you are having a table service dinner you will want to coordinate with the caterer to determine the preferred method of seating assignment. You will ultimately want to give a copy of the completed floor plan and the seating plan chart to the reception facility coordinator, the caterer, and whoever else might need to know where things are to be placed at your wedding reception.
Once the wedding invitation RSVPs start rolling in you can begin to assign guests to groups. As groups are created you can then begin to assign the groups a number that will correspond to the specific numbered tables - or you can wait until all groups are created before assigning them to tables (and seats). Etiquette dictates that men and women are seated alternately. In the case of rectangular banquet style table seating the male/female seating is alternated but couples are usually seated opposite each other.
There are instances where it may be necessary to move or remove tables to allow room for dancing or other activities. When table removal will be necessary be sure to avoid placing older or less mobile wedding guests at those tables.
Once you have determined who will be sitting where, you will create table cards indicating the table number so your wedding guests can easily find their table. Those cards will be placed on the tables prior to the guest arrival at the reception location and will correspond to the table number that is indicated on the floor plan that you created. If you are assigning specific seats to your wedding guests, place cards indicating the wedding guest's name will also be created. These place cards will be placed on the tables in front of the designated seat assignment prior to the guest's arrival. In the case of a table service meal, these place cards can also indicate the individual's menu selection - which will assist the catering service staff. TIP: A simple way to organize the table and place cards and ready them for placement is to put each table's cards in individual envelopes and write the table numbers on the outside of the envelopes.
How do your wedding guests find their table? There is one more set of cards - the escort cards. These are usually either flat cards in envelopes or folded, tented cards that indicate the wedding guest's names on the outside and their table/seating assignments on the inside. These cards are placed on a table (the escort card table) in alphabetical order according to the last name. The table is placed close to the entrance of the reception facility where guests can easily see it as they arrive. It is usually wise to have an attendant in the area to assist guests who may have overlooked the escort card table.
If your wedding reception is held outdoors be sure to weight the cards, place them in card holders or protect them from wind. Just one gust of wind and your guests may never find their seats...
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