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Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Importance of Planning Reception Seating

Planning the seating for your reception may not be the most exciting thing to do, but it will ensure your wedding guests fully enjoy celebrating your new life as husband and wife. Although it’s your special day, it wouldn’t be the same without your guests to share it with, and their comfort is important!

Why should I have reserved seating?
In my opinion, there is nothing worse than an unorganized reception. Your guests should be well-informed as to what to expect and where to go. If they have to make sure they have a seat by rushing into the reception room or saving seats for other people, your reception can be chaotic. Also, if you are having a sit-down or buffet-style dinner, it’s imperative that every guest have a seat (how can someone balance a dinner plate and a drink while standing?) This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at some who don’t plan to have seating for everyone! :-)

The importance of the RSVP
Besides letting you know who will be attending your wedding celebration, the RSVP helps you determine what your final budget will be for food, alcohol, and favors. Be sure to set a realistic deadline date and stick to it. If you are not getting responses in a timely manner, use your wedding website to send a friendly reminder to guests, or have family members follow up with a phone call to check on your guests’ status. You are not obligated to accommodate a guest who responds after the deadline!

When to work on your seating plan
You can lay the groundwork for your seating plan as soon as you know how your reception room will be arranged. One approach is to assign guests to tables as soon as you receive RSVPs. The downside of this is that if you do this too soon, and change your mind about where you want to seat someone, you may have to make a few changes until you have the final version. Any late RSVP should be seated wherever you have room (if you decide to try to accommodate them!) Check out wedding planning sites such as Wedding Wire (http://www.weddingwire.com) for great tools to assist you with your seating arrangements!

What are some things to keep in mind as you arrange your guest seating?
Again, the best interest of your guests is important as you answer these questions:

  • Will guests know each other?
  • Will a single person feel out of place sitting with married couples?
  • Are there guests who may not get along and should be seated separately (such as a divorced couple)?
  • Will a guest with a disability or special needs be able to maneuver in a particular area of the room?
  • Should an elderly guest be seated closer to the buffet?
Options for seating
Place cards – These are small cards that include a guest’s name and table number. Guests can pick them up during cocktail hour, or as they are entering the reception room.

Favors – A favor can double as a place card (such as a small picture frame with the guest’s name and table number, or piece of chocolate with a tag containing the seating information). Use your imagination!

Hostesses – Hostesses can check your guests in and inform them of their assigned table. You may even designate ushers to escort people to their seats!

Seating charts/scrolls – Guests’ names and table numbers are listed on a chart (usually in alphabetical order) so guests can determine where their seats are. See the picture above for just one way it can be done (picture courtesy of http://avasweddings.com )

Your Planning Assignment

Set your RSVP date so that you will have enough time to complete seating arrangements, as well as give a final guest count to your caterer, favor maker, and cake baker. Happy Planning!

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