The wedding seating chart—a dreaded last-minute design that each bride and groom have to struggle through. Often, the wedding planner needs to be the intermediary between the bride and groom when they decide on their seating chart.
So, how do you put uncle Bob next to cousin Jeff when they don’t like each other?
And even more important, how do you keep track of which guest should sit where? Is there a way to share the seating chart without it seeming like a homeroom teacher lining up her students for the day?
We’ve got all the answers and the best ideas on how to make a wedding seating chart that will be painless and pretty, right here.
Traditional Wedding Seating Charts
Traditional wedding seating charts were based on the number of guests and the available space in the reception hall. While not that much has changed, how you allocate space and plan to keep uncle Bob and cousin Jeff from entering a boxing match has undoubtedly improved.
Brides and grooms used to sit with stacks of paper and test different combinations of seating arrangements to try to keep everyone happy. Worst of all were those single wedding attendees who didn’t really know anyone at the wedding, so they didn’t really fit in anywhere.
Luckily, things have changed somewhat. As a wedding planner, you can really wow your clients with gorgeous wedding seating plans and charts.
Those plans and charts will take the headache out of who sits where and with whom, and help the wedding guests get to know each other better, even before the wedding.
The Impact of COVID on Wedding Seating
Covid has certainly impacted ALL social activities and gatherings. However, the least of the changes to our way of socializing is perhaps social distancing.
For mass events like weddings, this has translated into seating fewer guests at a table and seating family groups together. The wedding planner and/or bride and groom should also ensure there are sanitizing stations all over the wedding venue, too.
Weddings have become a lot more intimate for many couples.
Travel restrictions and the costs of hiring a much larger wedding venue have necessitated a few changes. Fewer guests are invited, or the guests are accommodated in a larger space to meet social distancing protocols.
These factors all influence how you would draw up a wedding seating chart. Luckily, technology can help.
Seating Chart Considerations for Wedding Receptions
The wedding guests need to find their way to their allocated table using the seating chart. There are several ways to ensure the guests know where they should sit.
While you can work on a simple numbering system that numbers each table, with a list at the door to show guests where they’ll be seated, you can also get creative.
An usher system or a wedding seating card system works well, too. Tables can be allocated according to family groups, friends, singles, couples, children, and work friends.
Keep in mind that in today’s pandemic world, it may be wiser to keep family units together and workplace friends at one table, too.
New Tools for Wedding Seating Charts
With digital assets, you can effortlessly create wedding seating charts online, sharing the URL with guests so they can see where they will be seated.
Your couple can even invite feedback from their guests, invite requests for seating changes, and use the same document to share their wedding gift registry or accept cash gifts online.
All of this starts with a simple seating chart.
Digital Wedding Seating Charts
When it comes to making sure everyone knows where they should sit, technology helps. You can easily design a professional wedding seating chart on an app like Canva, which creates a free and fully shareable seating plan for your guests.
On Canva, simply create a free account, then select the wedding seating chart template. This will provide you with a simple and fully customizable chart.
You can add names, make changes, and edit the appearance and layout. You can also share the final document in PDF or JPG format with the couple and the guests.
With guests seeing where they will be seated, they have the opportunity to learn something about the other guests who’ll be at their table. The guests can also get an idea of their proximity to the bride and groom’s table or even reach out if they happen to be seated next to someone whom they can’t stand.
Where to Find Templates for Wedding Seat Charts
If you are looking for a few templates when creating your couple’s wedding seat chart, consider these options:
- Planning.Wedding offers a free tool to create a seating chart. There’s an assistant that’ll help you create a chart from scratch or you can use one of the templates.
- Template.net has many free templates for the seating chart. There’s a template for a beach wedding, one for a nautical wedding, a vintage wedding, and more. Some are free to download; for others, you need to sign up.
- 101 Planners has a host of templates. What’s great about this site is that there are templates depending on the shape of the tables for the wedding guests and an Excel seating chart template you can use.
- Alternatively, you can always browse Pinterest for ideas. This app will never fail you in providing ideas.
Rules When It Comes to Wedding Seating
As a rule, guests are supposed to sit in their allocated seats. However, there will always be the oddball guest who refuses to do so and demands to sit with their chosen “besties” at the wedding reception.
This can cause an awkward problem, especially with Covid. Having an errant guest insist on being seated with certain other people can compromise the social distancing protocol.
The rule of thumb at weddings is to be seated in your allocated seat until the bride and groom has opened the dance floor and the meal has been served. After that, the guests can mingle freely.
What to Do If Wedding Guests Don’t Adhere to the Seating Chart?
Unlike a school classroom where you can tell the “unruly” attendees to sit where they belong, you can’t ask wedding guests to move if they aren’t in the right seats.
Instead, be sure to make an announcement via the master of ceremonies about where guests should sit in terms of the seating groups.
The maid of honor and the best man can also be relied upon to help you enforce the couple’s wishes.
If you notice a wedding guest is not sitting where indicated, it would be more polite and socially correct to ask the best man to step up. He could speak to the guest, as you don’t want to distract the bride and groom on their special day.
Ready to Create a Wedding Seating Chart?
Some of the traditional rules of wedding seating arrangements do still apply, and weddings are a time for families and friends. However, much has changed.
Wedding venues now feature sanitizing stations, temperature checkpoints, masks (and whether to wear them or not), and social distancing.
By having an effective and dynamic wedding seating chart, you can guide your couple and their guests in the best way to have a good time while still being socially responsible.