Often our couples want to prioritize guest experience, through entertainment and food over aesthetics. So, we polled our 25+ planning partners at Chancey Charm to find out what kind of wedding decorations they recommend to their couples who have a strict decor budget. What they recommended may surprise you…
– The Chancey Charm Team
Well, first off, please don’t ever not have a seating chart! 🙂 It causes mass confusion for guests and the biggest thing we see is awkward pairings, friend groups getting separated from each other, tables growing from 8 people to 11 people, etc.
As a designer, I strongly believe in using a mix of table sizes. A mix of estate tables (long rectangular tables), square tables, and/or varying sizes of circular tables should be in your floor plan. Doing this adds dimension and variety to the room. Once you have a solid floor plan and known guest attendance, you can then start planning your seating arrangements. If we’re talking about a 6-10 person table, I always suggest sitting at least 3-5 people who know each other together at that table. So if two couples know each other because the women are work colleagues, and the other two couples know each other because the guys went to college together, that’s a good table in my opinion. It’s even better when you mix like with like, such as hobbies, life stage, geography, et cetera so that conversation flows a bit more naturally.
To me, it’s all about the floor plan – you’ll want to start with a solid floor plan that’s built for the event flow and style before you start assigning seats. This will keep you from having to do too much “re-work” and will allow you to focus on placing guests where they’ll have the best experience. (NOTE: you totally can work on a “basic” chart by grouping people by 8s or 10s based on your table size(s) before you finalize the floor plan. This is great to use to discuss with parents – if they’re involved – about who will sit with whom without getting caught up in the WHERE just yet.)
Let’s start with where YOU want to sit. This is 100% up to you. Do you want to be front and center at a sweetheart table? Part of a kings or head table? Or do you want to eat dinner privately before guests and spend the dinner hour visiting tables? After you think about your experience, let’s think about your VIPS – this may be family or found family. I usually recommend placing these folks where they have the best sightline for key moments (like first dance, cake cut, or just seeing you throughout the night). Next let’s look at your layout and place groups. Think about the age and dispositions of your groupings. Elderly guests tend to dislike loud speakers and drafty AC. While the “party crowd” will likely not stay in their seats for long, making them perfect for placing in those “less desirable” spots. When it comes down to it, don’t overwhelm yourself with creating the perfect seating chart. I always remind couples, their guests are typically only seated there for dinner which on average lasts 45 to 80 minutes. After that, if they hate their seat that much, they can move for the remainder of the reception. If you’re inviting people who love and support you to the wedding, their focus should be on celebrating with you, not on whether or not your seating chart was flawless.
Number one, make sure you have your guest list created at the start of the planning process and if you have an amazing wedding planner (shameless plug), then you will already have this updated into the cloudbase system. The reason why this is one of the most important parts of your seating arrangement is the fact that once RSVP’s start rolling in and you are ready to start your arrangement you want to assure that all guests are accounted for and it is much easier to do that and seat everyone in an orderly fashion if you have your guest list done way ahead of time and in your cloud based system that easily allows you to place guests at their seat/respective table and helps account for every guest on your guest list having a seat. You then want to make sure that you have your floor plan completely done. Seating can get hairy, when you start considering who is related to who, who can’t sit next to who and on and on, it can be a lot easier to start seating everyone once you have a solid floor plan that you love and then you can navigate who needs to sit where. Always start with your “VIP’s” and the people who “MUST” have certain seats and sit near certain folks etc. This may be a daunting part of the seating arrangement task but once you get those folks seated it is way easier and less time consuming to seat everyone else where there is an open seat since you don’t have to focus so much on the location of the seat and who is or isn’t sitting next to them.