Often couples find the dreaded seating chart task a challenging one! So below we provide a guide on how to approach your seating chart.
Send out your RSVP card along with your invitations for people to respond if they are coming or not to your wedding. Making sure you have all the key information on your RSVP card will save you a painful follow up with guests as the date approaches. It’s really important to make sure you have the due date on there – I recommend about six weeks prior as it then gives you enough time to follow up on guests that haven’t gotten back to you, and yes there are always a few!
Things to list on your RSVP card include (but not limited to);
- Yes or No? A response to say if they are coming or not (normally in the fancy wording of course)
- Dietaries? Asking the guests if they have any dietary requirements such as allergies or vegetarian
- Partner? Sometimes you will ask if they are bringing a partner
- Transport required? Another useful thing to include is whether your guests would like transport. This means you can confirm numbers for buses taking guests to and from the venue.
- Song Requests? We have also had couples ask their guests to request a song which they then pass onto their DJ to put into the playlist.
Keeping Track of your Guest List
There are lots of ways you can do this and it’s about finding the way that makes you the most comfortable and is the most user-friendly for you. Some people prefer the old school but practical excel spreadsheet to keep their guests’ names all sorted or even using a word doc. There are a couple of great ideas of how you can lay this information out in a seating chart but I find the old school method is a great starting point.
Literally cut out rectangles or circles of paper, depending on your table style. Then with thin cut up post-it notes jot down all your guests’ names on them and start to lay out those names and move them around until you are happy with it. It’s often a bit of an ongoing project if people cancel or new guests are added but is a great starting point. Take a pic of this for your venue or if you prefer you can put this in a more formal spreadsheet.
Seating Chart Apps and Websites
There are also more modern ways of keeping track of your seating chart of course, with websites and apps that allow you to do a similar thing but in a digital format. We use ‘aisle planner’ – which you can find at aisleplanner.com – and our planning clients get access to this. As part of their RSVP software they include a seating chart planner. There are also a bunch of other apps out there too!
A couple of apps to look into are:
Top Table Planner
My Wedding Table Planner
Seats; Smart Seating Charts
Some of these allow you to import your excel spreadsheet and they will do floor plans too. Note: we are not affiliated with any of these and I recommend you use their free trial to give them a bit of a test to find out which one is best suited to you.
Dietary Requirements – an Important Part of your RSVP’s and Seating Chart
Often guests will pop down their dietary requirements on their RSVP card. These need to be clearly labelled for your caterers on the seating chart so they are well aware of where those people are sitting.
Something as simple as a colour coded chart e.g. red for vegetarian or blue for nut allergy can be discussed with your caterer in advance depending how they prefer you give them this information. This is another reason why having place cards is really important on the tables. This way the caterer can know exactly where those particular guests are sitting. Trust me, this element can wreak havoc for the catering and delay service if dietary requirements are unclear.
What Not to do with your Seating Chart
My best tip is: do not have a “free for all” or no seating chart! Of course, if you have a cocktail canapé style wedding you don’t need one, but for a seated wedding guests actually prefer you to be organised and tell them where to sit!
Sometimes couples think it may work by having a seating chart where guests find the table they are on but then can find their own seat within that table. If you are going to the trouble of having a seating chart definitely have a place setting at their location.
It can be really awkward and uncomfortable for guests finding a spot within that table and if you are the last one and you don’t get to sit next to your partner, nobody wants to ask everyone to shuffle around especially with a large wedding too. So, my advice is: just do the place settings, it’s a stack easier.
Ms Zebra Says: One of the trickiest decisions to make – as we’ve all been seated at a table we didn’t love at one time! Such great tips for deciding where to seat everyone.