At some point you’re just going to have to do it. You have to do it. Making the seating chart for your reception is an onerous task, and it’s only made worse by the fact that you usually can’t finalize it until the very last moment and even then it’s subject to change. The seating chart is difficult because it involves both logistics and relationships.
For example: You might have only invited a small group of work friends to your wedding and you’d like them to be able to stick together, but there are nine of them and eight seats. Ok, we’ll split them up, five and four. Easy right? Oh, but then who comprises the other seats at those two tables. Do you know other people who might get along with them? Of course you do, that’s easy. It would be easy except that the other people you know are all couples. How are you going to get that odd number of three people? Let’s start over.
And on it goes. So yes, it’s difficult, but there are ways to make it easier.
Group People by Who they Know
Sure, you want your guests to mix and mingle and get to know new people, but save that for the dance floor. People want to sit next to people they know, so use that as a starting place. Once you group together all the people who have to sit together then look at your free agents. Who are they similar too? Whose company might they enjoy? It also helps to have a list of odd and even numbers of people who need to sit together. Remember those work friends up there? You could pair four of them with two couples who already know each other, and you could pull from your odd number list to fill in the gaps at the table of five.
Opt for the Sweetheart Table
This is becoming more popular at weddings than a head table, and it’s easy to see why. For one thing it allows you and your brand new spouse a teeny tiny bit of time together on a day dedicated to the two of you. It also makes things easier on your bridal party, especially if they are bring dates or spouses of their own. You don’t have to worry about where to stick their plus-ones, and you make it so they have a fun evening together, too.
Use a Visual Aid
You are putting together a puzzle and odds are you will have to work it through at least once before you get everything right. That’s why it’s helpful to have a way to visualize the individual tables and move people around. I used numbered flash cards and strips of paper with each guests name on it. It’s really helpful to be able to see the layout in some form, and to be able to move things around easily.
None of these are perfect solutions to the seating chart conundrum and in the end some of the tables may still be a bit patch-work, but guests will appreciate your effort. They will appreciate that you behaved like a proper host and paid careful attention to how to make sure your guests have a good time.