Do you really need a Seating Chart for your Reception?
So you’re engaged, now comes wedding planning. There are more things to consider than you ever thought possible. Wedding colors, how you’re going to decorate… I need how many bridesmaids? Where are we going to get married, I would hope you have picked me to DJ if you are reading this on my site so that part is done… but now it’s time to decide, do I do a seating chart or not? With everything going on I say avoid the stress involved with it and say no… but there are some aspects to consider.
What kind of meal are you having?
To me that is the only thing that would mean it’s important to make a seating chart. If you are having a sit down served dinner it’s super important to have a seating chart because typically you have your guest pre-order what meal they want and giving your caterer a seating chart and meal assignments will certainly streamline that.
What are some other things to consider?
As a DJ that is at the reception before you arrive and the last person to leave I tend to watch people’s behavior and where they sit, doesn’t matter. It’s a place to put their stuff. They come in and when there is a seating chart they spend time trying to find their name, then trying to find their table… then they drop their stuff off (coats or whatever) and mingle around. They typically don’t sit until the bride and groom are about to be introduced. They are in their seats to eat and then as soon as the meal is over they are back up and mingling (or dancing if I am the DJ J ) Is it really worth the stress you put on yourself to plan and arrange seats over and over again to come up with the “perfect” arrangement for something that most don’t really care about?
Think about when you create your seating arrangement, who are you going to have sit next to each other? Typically you put friends that know each other together, or family members that get along with each other too…. Human nature says that the majority of the time those people are going to sit together anyways. I know that a family reunion is different than a wedding but it’s a similar gathering and I know when I go to a large family reunion I end up hanging out with the same people I see on a regular basis… had somebody made a seating chart undoubtedly they would have put me at a table with those people anyways.
But what about making sure my parents and wedding party get seats close to the head table?
If you are doing a large head table then your wedding party has assigned seats already. If you are doing a sweetheart table for just the two of you, then there is more to think about. As you are coming up with how you want to lay out the reception, it’s easy to designate a reserved table or two (or however many it takes to accommodate the number of people) that are close to the front. A simple card that says “reserved for the wedding party” or “reserved for Brides/Grooms” parents” is a simple way to make sure that those most important to you have preferential treatment and the rest can decide for themselves.
A seating arrangement can help you decide exactly how many seats you need at each table and create a sense of order to things, but what happens when somebody brings a “plus 1” that you didn’t know about… now 1 person can throw off the most ridged of planning. A thing to consider if not doing the seating chart is to have an extra table set up. Usually it’s fairly inexpensive to have 1 extra table and linens but the price you pay is worth it in exchange for the less stress of having to come up with a seating chart. The extra table allows your guests to be able to spread out some in the event of a table with 1 seat left, but a couple needs to sit together etc. It also gives you some overflow for people that don’t RSVP but show up anyways… so instead of having to scramble to figure out where they are going to sit, it’s planned for.
I have seen some really nice decorative seating charts that people either took a LOT of time to create, or payed somebody to create for them but the typical response I see when your guest look at it is… “ugh there is a seating chart” as they huddle around it trying to figure out where they “have” to sit.
Weddings are stressful enough, don’t add more to it by creating something that most people don’t care about (or like). Reserve a couple tables up front and call it good… People hardly use the chairs anyways, why waste your time.
Those are my two cents, regardless if you do a seating chart or not, I hope you find this helpful, happy planning!