It is almost April which means I am in full-on planning mode for my 2019 couples and starting to on-board 2020 couples! My season officially launches on May 4th and I could not be more excited. With that being said, right now a lot of my couples are starting to get RSVP's in and working on seating arrangements. This is the perfect time for another #weddingplanning blog post all about how to create a floor plan that works and where to begin on guest seating assignments.
Before I even jump into this, I’m going to start with how to create and organize your guest list as this will really help you later on. I suggest you begin by creating "guest categories" so you can easily sort through your list later on. Sample categories include:
- Bride’s Family
- Groom’s Family
- Bride’s Friends
- Groom’s Friends
- Mutual Friends
Within each of these categories, you can create sub-categories like “college friends, work friends, family friends, Mom’s side of the family, Dad’s side of the family, etc.” Starting off your guest list with organization and categories will help to ensure no one is missed and comes in handy down the road when you are working on table assignments as you can already see who is grouped with who.
CREATING THE FLOOR PLAN
Once you have all of your RSVP’s in, it’s time to start creating the layout and table assignments. I know it is tempting to start this process earlier, but trust me, wait until the very last one comes in to save yourself from having to re-create your layout multiple times!
First, if your venue provides you with a floor plan, look at the number of tables that can fit in the space and how many guests each table can accommodate. Also keep in mind that just because a table can seat 10 guests does not mean that you have to put 10 guests at that table – you could have tables of 8 or 9.
Helpful tip with table sizes:
60” Round – maximum guests is 10 but 8 is more comfortable
72” Round – maximum guests is 12
If you are going with 6’ or 8’ farm tables – no more than 3-4 guests per side and unless the table is wide enough, do not plan to seat guests on the ends
Planner Tip: Keep in mind table settings when determining how many guests to put at each table as table décor such as large charger plates that take up a lot of space may not allow you to fully max out a table.
If your venue does not provide you with a floor plan and you are not an AJSE client (because I got you here!), you will want to create one on your own. I suggest creating an account on www.allseated.com (it’s FREE!). Start by getting the dimensions of your reception space and the size tables you will be using.
Planner Tip: Do NOT plan to put tables too close together as you need to allow space for servers to get through and guests to back their chairs out without hitting one another. Plan for at least 3 feet of space between tables.
Other things to keep in mind when designing your layout:
- Will you need space for buffet tables? One or two sided?
- How large of a space for the dance floor?
- Band or DJ? If band, how large of a stage? Does this need to be set near a power source?
- Card & Gift Table – most guests will want to drop these upon arrival so make sure the table is clearly labeled and near the entrance
- Handicapped guests – ensure they have adequate space to bring in a wheel chair. I typically recommend setting them near the entrance/exit with a clear path to get in and out
Once you’ve determined how many tables can fit in the space and how many guests per table, it’s time to start assigning seating. To help you get started, go back to how you initially organized your guest list. Again, if you’re one of my clients – you’ve got the tools right in your portal to take care of the guest list organization, floor plans and assigning seating!
If you’re doing this on your own – there’s a couple ways you can get started. If you’re a visual person and need to see things on a large scale – get yourself a poster board and draw large circles to represent your tables. Get multi colored post-its (each color represents a guest category), write your guest names down and stick onto the board with the table they are assigned to. Once you’re satisfied with the outcome, I would suggest moving this information into a spreadsheet or word document so you have a copy saved (take a picture on your phone too for easy reference)
If you are a digital person – you can use the tools in AllSeated to assign guests to tables OR you can use a good old-fashioned spreadsheet and create a column for Table Number and assign guests this way. Whatever method you prefer, make sure to double and triple check your work to ensure you did not over seat tables or missed any guests! Nothing is worse than realizing on the wedding day that someone did not get a seat or there are too many people at a table!
Planner Tip – couples ask me all the time whether they need to assign tables. My answer is YES. Especially with larger weddings (you might be able to get away with this for smaller, more intimate weddings under 50 guests) but anything over, do yourself and your guests a favor and assign their tables! This doesn’t mean they have to stay in their seat the entire wedding but it gives them some direction (people like direction!), a place to set their coats or bags and if you’ve done your homework on grouping guests properly, they will be at a table with people they know and can make conversation with. Imagine going to a wedding and realizing the table you want to sit at is full and the only available option is sitting with a group of people you’ve never even met on the opposite side of the room because that was all that was open? You wouldn’t like that and your guests wouldn’t either!
Thanks for stopping by this week and until next time, Happy Planning!