Many have a love-hate relationship with seating charts... Should you have one, or you skip it?
To be fully transparent, we are pro seating chart here at Sota Brides... Here’s why:
Having a seating chart can save money by allowing you to fill the full number of seats at each table. If you don't have a seating chart and allow guests to choose their own spots, they likely won't fill up a table an entire table on their own. So you should plan on having extra tables if you choose to not have a seating chart.
You and your partner know your guests, so you can use this to your advantage to either avoid conflicts or pair guests with things in common. If you know certain people in your family don't get along, you can make sure they are at different tables. Same thing goes for those guests who maybe don't know many others, you can put them near other guests who might have some common interests. It can help generate conversations and hopefully people will stick around for longer, if they have made some new friends!
Having a seating chart can also give your guests peace of mind. It allows them to know that they have an assigned place to be and don't have to worry about rushing in the room to get a good seat, or stress about someone stealing their spot.
If you are having a plated dinner, you will likely be required by your caterer to make a seating chart. Having a seating chart allows the catering staff to know how many of each type of meals are going to each table.
It is also worth noting that due to COVID-19, you may be required to have a seating chart by your venue for contact tracing purposes. Be sure to ask your venue about their current policies in place.
It is important to consider the strategic placement of key wedding guests. You definitely want your parents, grandparents and "vip guests" to be close by the head table, so they are close for speeches. If you choose to not have a seating chart, consider having reserved tables for immediate family.
While seating charts can be an extra hassle and another thing to plan, in the long run it truly can save you money by having fewer tables and chairs to rent, less linens, and less centerpieces.
We understand that not everyone wants to have a seating chart and give their guests the freedom to choose where they want to sit, which is totally fine! Seating charts definitely aren't for everyone.
Main reasons to decide against a seating chart:
You are having more of a casual or laid back wedding
You aren't having a seated or served dinner
You are having a very small wedding where most of your guests already know each other well
Less stress - let's be real, seating charts can be a pain in the butt to organize
Some tips for planning and organizing your seating chart:
Timeline: Make sure you know when your caterer needs your final count by. Add a week or two to this date so you know when to have your RSVPs due. Adding the extra week or two allows you time to track down those who don't respond and make your seating chart plan.
Creating the chart: A great place to start is requesting a room layout from your venue. Figure out how many seats each table holds. From there, take your guest list and group guests together by household and that know each other. Many people recommend using a spreadsheet, but we recommend using Post-It notes and a white board, so you can move people around much easier!
Final pro tip: There may be a few people who show that didn't RSVP, and a few people that don't end up showing up. It is smart to plan to have a few extra seats reserved for those surprise attendees. Let your coordinator know where these spots are so they can direct any surprise guests to the bonus seats.
All in all, whether you decide to have a seating chart is totally up to you and your partner. Though we may be biased and recommend having one, there is no right or wrong answer. Just what is best for you guys, your venue and your situation!