WEDDING NOTES: The Seating Plan

Planning a wedding requires organization, decision making skills, and patience. It's a huge undertaking with absolutely wonderful results. All the work that goes into a wedding is worth it as you and the love of your life begin that life together. But one of the tasks is a difficult one, time consuming and if you are planning a sit down dinner for your reception - it is essential. It is the SEATING PLAN. It's also one of those things your wedding planner cannot do for you.

Some consultants would say it is not considered a necessity but most would agree that it is a courtesy and a convenience for your guests. Many guests - especially those who don't know many of the people at your reception - will feel more comfortable with assigned seating. If you are having a cocktail party reception or are not serving a full meal, a seating plan may not be necessary, but you will still need enough tables and chairs to accommodate all of your guests.

How do you create a plan? Start with a floor plan for the spot you've chosen for your reception. Lay out the room noting where the dance floor is, the bar, the gift tables, the guest book, the band and/or MC. Decide where the head table will be along with the parents table and if necessary another table for honored guests. Know how many tables will be needed - seating 8 or 10 guests each at a standard 60" round tables. Place guests by families, where you know them from guests with special interests. Once you've done the first draft, look at any special needs guests. Probably best not to seat your groom's grandmother next to the band's speakers. If you are planning a kids table, don't put it next to the head table. Think about wheelchair accessibility. Be prepared to redo this plan and adjust your first cut as you get feedback from an overseeing family member.

The best way to let guests know where they are sitting is to provide escort cards which will give them their table number. If you are assigning seats at the assigned table, then you will need to have place cards at each table as well. Most wedding planners have experienced guests who wander into the dining room before the event begins and who proceed to rearrange place cards at their assigned table. Fortunately, not many are that fussy, but be aware that it does happen. If you have a host couple filling in for your parents who are involved in wedding photos, the hosts should have a copy of the master plan.