Thursday, June 28, 2012

{5+02 Thursday Tips) Reception Seating Edition*

Photo by Jesse Vuona via Style Me Pretty

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If you’re having 50 guests to a buffet, you may or may not want to give people specific seating assignments. But if you’re having 100 guests or more and serving a seated meal, you’ll want to make sure everyone’s got a specific place to sit. Why? For one, people like to know where they’re sitting — and that you took the time to choose where and who they should sit with. It’s also helpful if you’re serving several different entree choices, because the caterer and wait staff can figure out beforehand how many chickens, filets, or veggie dishes a given table gets because they (you) know who’s sitting there. Read on for tips on how to seat neatly.

1. Start Early

We’ve been at kitchen tables the night before the wedding (or even wedding morning) with a bride and groom just starting their seating chart. Don’t let this be you — you’ve got more important things to think about at that point! Sure, it’s fine to make last-minute changes, but try to get the chart mostly done at least a week before the big day.

Seating Flow Chart
Photo by Heidi Ryder via Fizzy Drank

2. Hit the Keys
Create a new spreadsheet. If you haven’t already, insert a column into your guest list document categorizing all the invitees by relationship: bride’s friend; bride’s family; groom’s friend; groom’s family; bride’s family friend; groom’s family friend. This way, you’ll be able to easily sort the list and break it down into more logical table assortments. Now you’ll need to separate these lists into distinct tables.

Easy Seating Chart
Photo by Studio 11 via Something Turquoise

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3. Create a Paper Trail
If you’re feeling more low-tech, draw circles (for tables) on a big sheet of paper and write names inside them (make sure you know how many people can comfortably be seated at each). Or you could write every guest’s name on a post-it to place accordingly.

4. Switch Things Up
You don’t have to do a head table. Let your wedding party sit at a round reception table or two with each other and/or with their dates/significant others, and have the head table be a sweetheart table for the two of you. (How romantic!) Another option — you two sit with your parents and let that be the head table, with the wedding party at their own tables.

5. Place Your Parents
Traditionally, your parents and your sweetie’s parents sit at the same table, along with grandparents, siblings not in the wedding party, and the officiant and his/her spouse if they attend the reception. But if your or your honey’s parents are divorced, and are uncomfortable about sitting next to each other, you might want to let each set of parents host their own table of close family and/or friends This could mean up to four parents’ tables, depending on your situation — or have the divorced parent who raised you (or your honey) and his/her spouse/date sit at the table with still-married parents. (Phew, confusing!). Remember, the parent-seating question is a flexible one. Set it up in whatever way best suits everybody. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to talk to the parents in question about it before you make your final decision.

Photo by  Breathe Pictures via Rock My Wedding

6. Tame Tensions
There may also be situations in which certain family members just do not get along. Maybe they haven’t spoken in years. Maybe the last time they saw each other there was a drunken catfight. Understandably, you want to keep them as far apart as possible. Think about these kinds of relationships (or lack thereof) before you even begin making your chart, so you can take them into consideration in the first place and begin by seating Aunt Hattie at table 3 and Aunt Lucy across the room at table 15. Trust us — they’ll appreciate it.

7. Play Matchmaker
Again, all your college or high-school friends will be psyched to sit at a table together — and especially if you and your beloved went to the same school and have the same friends, this works out well. It also gives them all an opportunity to catch up with each other, because they may not have seen each other for a while. But again — reception tables offer a cool opportunity to mix and match your friends and your honey’s — who knows who’ll hit it off? Consider seating friends who don’t know each other (yet), but who you think will get along exceptionally well, at the same table — and the rest is history. It can’t hurt!

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