Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweet Seats: Seating Chart & Venue Layout Tips

I’ll be straight with you. Our seating chart and venue layout were two of the biggest challenges we faced while planning the wedding. Even so, they were challenges I was totally up for, being the obsessive organizer that I am!

Here's a diagram of the layout we ended up using, plus a few tips that helped me in putting both of these items together -- working in conjuction with our venue staff, of course.

· Plug guests into the seating chart as you receive RSVPs. Yes, you’ll have to arrange and rearrange a few times as you discover that certain people can and can’t make it. But for me, doing it this way was much easier than waiting until the end and starting from scratch with an entire guest list of names.

· Before assigning spots, be sure to double check with your venue to see how many people their tables can comfortably seat. At our venue, most of the tables held only eight guests, but there were four larger ones available that could hold up to 10 people at a time. This is not something you want to find out after you’ve already spent tons of time perfecting the seating chart!

· Need to fill extra space? Ask about strategically placing a couple cocktail tables here and there throughout the room. We ran into this issue, but were luckily able to avoid the appearance of a too empty reception hall. Plus, these tables gave guests a great place to stand and mingle with their drinks!

· Along these lines, don’t forget to discuss with your venue coordinator, or figure out on your own, how many square feet are available in the cocktail hour and reception areas. No one wants a too crowded room or a room overflowing with empty space. And a too big or too small dance floor? A definite recipe for disaster!

· Be sure each person has at least one friend or acquaintance seated at his table. Or, if he doesn’t know anyone else at the wedding, make sure he’s seated with guests he might have something in common with. It’s also a good idea to group tables of families and friends together for easy mingling and conversation.

· The last thing you want to do is seat grandma by the DJ’s speakers, or risk having the cake knocked over as guests rush to the dance floor, so be sure to troubleshoot as you perfect both your seating chart and room layout.

What are your tips or concerns about seating charts and room setup?

(Graphic & Photo Credits: Los Robles Greens & Alex Neumann Photography)


  1. We asked our parents who they wanted at their table and also how they thought we should seat family members so that helped us a lot, we mainly just had to figure out the seating for our friends. We also made sure to put the older people futher away from the speakers.

  2. Thanks for the great tips (as usual). I am dreading this task, mostly because my fiance's parents want to have a heavy hand in who sits where, and they are the king and queen of procrastination! I think this is going to be a huge challenge for us as well, though there is nothing preventing us from getting a head start with my mom's guests and our friends.

  3. Great tips. My biggest frustration with our seating chart was that we filled the room to the max and therefore had a couple tables that were way 'in the back' against the wall. I think there were only one or two tables that had an obstructed view of the sweetheart table and dance floor and of course those guests complained, but what are you supposed to do? I felt horrible but family came first and by the time I plugged all my family into the tables, it seemed like most of the other guests that were just friends (and even my boss!) had to be at the very back tables :(

    Seating charts are difficult but you just have to accept that you'll never please everyone.

  4. These are great tips! I felt lucky that my first pass at making our seating chart made both sets of parents happy, so I only had to do it once (and I did it a month before our wedding, since we'd set the RSVP deadline nice and early).

  5. Thanks for the advice! I think this will be an annoying task but hopefully it goes smoothly. I like the idea of starting as soon as we get yes rsvps.

  6. Quick question: How big was the venue for this seating chart? I've found a place that I like, but I'm not sure if it could accommodate the dance floor and all of my guests, even with moving the buffet and bar out to the lobby. The space I'm working with is 1,550 sq. ft. with an extra 100 or so in the lobby area.

  7. Hi Nicole! Thanks for your comment! I don't actually have the specs for the room on hand, as my wedding took place almost three years ago now, but my best advice is to talk with the staff at the venue to determine whether the space can accommodate a wedding of your size, with all the aspects you hope to include, such as the dance floor. I definitely hope it works out for you! :)