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. 

WEDDING NOTES: Trains

Wedding styles may change with seasons, but one of the things about gowns that remains constant is the train. And the guideline is - the length of the gown's train (and veil) determines how formal the gown is. Traditionally long, cathedral-length trains are best suited for an incredibly formal evening wedding. Shorter chapel or sweep trains are appropriate for a less formal daytime or evening wedding. 

There are several train styles to consider when selecting your gown. Trains may be attached and may require a bustle for ease of movement at the reception. Others are detachable for the reception. Here is a description of the various styles you may consider:

Royal - dramatic and extravagant train that falls up to twelve feet on the floor behind you. 
Cathedral - very formal length that falls between six and eight feet.
Chapel - the most popular choice for most brides, falls three to four feet.
Court - less formal and falls about a foot on the floor.
Brush or Sweep - barely brushes the floor.
Watteau - attaches to the shoulders rather than the waist.

WEDDING NOTES: The B-List

Very few couples are lucky enough to predict the exact number of guests that will attend their wedding and reception. The best they can do is give a reasonably accurate estimate to their caterer and keep their fingers crossed. Even with careful planning, printed RSVP cards and lots of online communication, the best most weddings can manage is an 85% rate of response. What's a bride to do? As awkward as it sounds, many brides prepare a B-list of guests.

Those couples who really want to nail down the exact number, begin to plan the guest list early in their engagement process. It's important to begin thinking about your guest list and who to include on the "A" list, the names of those guests who absolutely must be invited. The wedding wouldn't be the same without them. Once that list is complete, many brides are then assembling a list of potential guests whom they would love to invite if only they had the room. Many wedding planners suggest their brides begin building an alternative list once the primary list is complete. The suggestion is to order extra invitations with the originals and have them ready to go when the RSVP's begin to arrive.

It may mean adjusting the invitation mailing a bit - many suggest mailing A-list invitations slightly ahead of the 2 month mark but keeping a one month RSVP date.

Keep that B-list your secret. There's no need to broadcast its existence. You and your mom may know - and the groom, but no one else needs to know. And if possible, keep B-list guests as a group. If one guest from work is invited, place the others on the same schedule. 

WEDDING NOTES: Current Wedding Trends

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With the ever changing seasons during the wedding planning process, we see a few great trends popping up for 2017. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Mismatched Bridesmaids - The bride selects a color palette for her wedding and then gives her bridesmaids the freedom to choose their own style gown and their own color favorites within that palette. This can be a wonderful way for large wedding parties to create a unique look for the female members of the party. It also insures that each of the bridesmaids may, in fact, have a dress she will wear again and again. 
  • More than just cake - While wedding cakes remain reception favorites, we are seeing more and more dessert tables with a wide variety of offerings. Some of the most popular are tables of ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cones, cake pops, donuts, make-your-own sundaes and individual cakes as the centerpieces of each guest table.
  • Glamour and Red Carpet Gowns - While geography does play a role in the kind of wedding gown many brides choose, we are seeing a growing group of gowns which emphasize the bare look. Deep V necks - both front and back, sheer lace fabric with elaborate bead work, slit skirts and hints of bare skin are appearing in weddings - not just in magazine layouts. 
  • Brunch Weddings have become popular as a way to both save money for the couple and as a way of offering guests a unique experience. It works very well with a morning ceremony, and gives guests who have traveled out of town to attend a head start towards home. For brides who have a full day's activities planned for their guests, a brunch reception leaves time in the day for special events.
  • Sustainable Catering is becoming a favorite for many couples. This menu option works well for both indoor buffets and outdoor receptions. In fact, the focus on sustainable food options and environmentally sound locations make a true statement of what the couple values. 

WEDDING NOTES: Rehearsal Week

Some of the best advice we've heard comes from wedding planners who counsel their brides to have a special focus on themselves that last week before their wedding day. We like to think of it as the rehearsal before the big event. This week is a critical time and if you use it wisely, you'll have taken a major step toward a fabulous wedding day. Plan your time this week before the event as a way to insure that all goes well on that day.
 

  • Do your own Dress Rehearsal - Put on every piece of clothing that you plan to wear on your wedding day. Put it all on to be sure it fits properly, looks great, and feels comfortable.
  • Break in your Shoes - Wear them an hour or more every day and be sure to pack an alternate pair for "just in case". 
  • Double check with your wedding planner and cover all the bases. 
  • Send out schedules to your photographer, videographers, and other vendors.
  • Clear up any projects you have outstanding at your job. Wrap them up so you don't have to worry about any aspect of work while you are on your honeymoon.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Rehearse your vows out loud. Don't just run through them in your mind. 
  • Confirm who is making toasts and when.
  • Figure out who will be responsible for taking gifts from the wedding and where they are being taken
  • Call any key guests who have not sent in their RSVP. Or ask your maid of honor to do it for you.
  • Make sure to pick up the marriage license.
  • Double check the seating chart for any last minute adjustments.
  • Pack your day of survival kit. 

WEDDING NOTES: Make Technology Your Planning Partner

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In this day and age, we become tech experts in our early teens and continue to retain knowledge which, in turn, makes life a little easier and more organized. Our brides have shared a few of their best ideas on how to incorporate technology into weddings.

  • Consider 3D Printing as a way to personalize your cake top, place cards, and favors.
  • Create a custom Snapchat geofilter for your wedding day. YES, this is a thing! A fun custom filter is such a great personal touch to add to your guests overall experience.
  • Plan a live stream of your wedding. If your guest list includes elderly relatives, guests who live out of town or off exploring in another country, being able to view your nuptials in real time is terrific. They can watch the entire ceremony, see your first dance and watch the cake cutting in real time. Facebook Live is a great resource to use. 
  • If you plan to use a high tech photo booth at your reception, plan the use of an onsite attendant as well for any tech complications. They can include fun backdrops and props to spice up the activities, leaving guests with a great photo for keeps. 
  • Provide a few Instant Polaroid cameras here and there during the reception. Have a little basket for guests to drop off the photos they want to share with you. This is such a fun idea and a perfect addition for your wedding album.
  • Explore universal gift registries online. They frequently offer unique experiences, household items, group gifting ideas and even honeymoon cash.