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Creating the Perfect Seating Plan:

Creating the perfect seating plan is always one of those tricky jobs (for any event) that we often find ourselves fretting over… What shape tables do we pick? Who do we sit where? Top table or no top table? These are just a few of the questions we have to think about, not to mention the complication of which family members get on and which don’t.

Continue reading for our guide on how to make this job as easy as possible:

Decide on table shape and layout:

This is one of the first things to think about… Are you going for the traditional round tables, banquet style trestle tables, or mixing it up with both?

Have a think about what style might suit your venue, or what works well for the style of food being served? If you are having a ‘help yourself’ banquet, then trestle tables may be the perfect fit, but if you would prefer for your guests to sit round and talk to their table as a group, then round tables might be the way to go.

Wedding Seating Plan

A mix of tables at Southampton Harbour Hotel

Do you want a top table?

A top table doesn’t necessarily mean a long table with you and your nearest and dearest looking out at the room… Although this traditional style is still very popular, and gives you a great view point of all of your guests.

A top table could be a round table, a half moon, or even a table in the middle of the room.

Who to sit at the top table?

If you do decide to go for a top table, you next need to think about who to sit there, would you like to sit with your family or your wedding party? There really are no rules.

Have a think about who you would most like to be seating with on your wedding day, but also how you want your guests to feel – Will they feel honoured to be sitting at the top table, or completely out of their comfort zone?

Would you like your parents with you, or would they prefer to sit with their friends? Do you want to sit with the wedding party, or do you want to spread them out as hosts on other tables?

Alternatives to a top table:

If you decide to opt for no top table, what are the alternatives? Here are three that we have come across that are lovely alternatives:

The sweetheart table: This is a table made for two, so that you and your beloved can have a little alone time. It’s a wonderful way to sit back and take it all in, but if you are going for this option, make sure you have started circling the room by dessert… Being antisocial on your wedding day is a big no no.

Moving Seats: Can’t decide where to sit? Ask your caterers to include a couple of extra place settings dotted around the room, so that you can sit on a different table for each course… Giving you chance to speak to lots of your guests throughout the meal.

One big table: If you are a smaller party, then you may decide to go for one big table, whether this be a long trestle table stretching the length of the room or a large circular table. Going for this option means that you can sit on the same table as all of your guests, so no-one feels left out.

Wedding Seating Plan

A table made for two at Guildford Harbour Hotel

Enlist someone to help:

When it comes to the nitty gritty or who to sit where, you may find that enlisting the help of someone else is key… If your wedding consists of a large group of friends then you may be the best to work out the seating chart, but if there are a lot of family, maybe one of your parents has the inside knowledge of who to sit with whom.

Mix it up:

If all of your tables are made up of people who already know each other, then people lose the chance to mingle. But alternatively, if you sit everyone with a table of strangers then they may feel a little uncomfortable. Try to mix it up and a bit and strike a balance between old acquaintances and new

Group your Guests:

It can be a bit daunting looking at your list of guest names, and you may not know where to start. Try grouping people slowly. Firstly put couples together, then have a think about peoples interests to see who may get along. Do your aunt and uncle and your other half’s Godparents share a favourite holiday destination? Or do you have friends from different parts of the country that both love horse riding? Slowly, build your groups up until you have a complete seating plan.

Paper Plates and Clothes Pegs:

If you are writing in pen, and crossing names out every time you move someone, you are going to end up with a very messy piece of paper. There are plenty of apps out that that can help you with this, but if you prefer old school paper and ink then we suggest using paper plates and clothes pegs.

Write a guests name on each peg, and number your paper plates as table… This way you can peg and unpeg to your hearts content!

Wedding Seating Plan

Planetary table names by The Wedding Print Shop

Names Not Numbers:

When choosing how to label your tables, you might like to think about using names rather than numbers. The problem with numbers is that there can be a bit of an assumption that higher numbers mean less important. If you think Uncle Phil might be disappointed to be sat at ‘Table 14’ then why not use table names.

Why not be creative with your table names, and have some fun deciding what to name them after… Favourite movies? Flowers used in the bouquet? Countries you have been to as a couple? The lists goes on…

Getting people to the right seat:

The easiest way to do this is a ‘three step process’. Firstly, the table plan – Have this in a prominent position near the entrance to the dining room. There are many way to design a table plan, the most traditional of which is a large board, but you can just as easily go for hanging cards off a tree, mounting a selection of different photo frames or handwriting on a mirror… Whatever you choose, just make sure the writing is large and clear enough for everyone to read.

Secondly, we need to get them to the correct table. Make sure you have a table name or number on each table that corresponds to that on the table plan. Ideally you want these positioned on the table to face the entrance so that guests can see them as they walk through the room.

Lastly, place names… These are not essential if you want people on designated tables, but not designated seats, but if you have carefully planned who is sitting where, then you want to make sure that each guest can find their name next to a place setting

The most important thing when creating the perfect seating plan is to do what you think will make you and your guests feel the most comfortable.

Southampton Harbour Hotel:
Guildford Harbour Hotel:

Wedding Stationery:
The Wedding Print Shop:

Top Button Weddings:
Saran Wenban Photography: www.sarahwenban.co.uk

Simply Flower:
Tony Dunn Flowers: www.tonydunnflowers.co.uk

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