It's Monday, and that means I am here to offer you some tips and tricks for your planning process! This week we are diving in on the importance of having a seating chart. I've had so many couples go back and forth on if they even need a seating chart versus a full on table arrangement with place cards at each place setting.
So the question is, do you need one? The answer is and always will be...YES!
You may be thinking of not having one, because you envision your wedding to be less formal, carefree, and easygoing. However, what you're actually doing is creating chaos and stress for your guests. If there's one thing your guests actually care about at your wedding, it's their experience and who they're at a table with. There are literally movies about the awkwardness of going to a wedding and being seated at THAT table. I have yet to see the "non-seating chart" wedding go smoothly, so let me explain what actually happens...
Your guests walk in and start to ask staff if they missed the seating chart. Once they have realized that they have to claim a seat, they quickly start to walk around finding people they may know to agree to sit with them. Then instead of actually enjoying your cocktail hour, they spend the next hour (or longer) sitting at the table so that they don't lose their seat. You are 100% guaranteed to not only have 1 or 2, but several tables that are a hodgepodge of uncomfortable guests. They start to look around the room noticing various other guests that they would have much rather have sat with. Family and friends of all various ages are mixed together, and you may think that most people would start to make friends with the people at their table, but they don't. They may ask each other how they know the bride or groom, have a few minutes of small talk, and then are back talking to the person they came with. To make matters worse, some even start to move around chairs and place settings so they they're able to sit with friends, making it more chaotic for your caterer and event staff.
There is also the worse case scenario, which has actually recently happened. Additional guests that didn't RSVP show up, and now your actual guests are left standing by the bar for dinner. To make matters worse, family members and wedding party are left without a seat. This makes for an awkward situation, because how do you go to each table and call out the guests that aren't supposed to be there? Plus, in this same situation we had various tables with 1 random chair, because guests would rather stand at the bar with a friend, then sit at a table surrounded by people they don't know.
So how can you avoid this?
1. Tell your guests which table they're at.
Arrange your guests so that they are at least grouped together at their specific table. Here at the Merc, you can go up to 10 at a round, or 20 at 2 farm tables together. The farm tables are a great option if you have a group of family or friends that would be weird to split up between tables.
2. Keep your family close.
Make sure your parents and immediate family are surrounding you. Your family wants to be as close to the head table as possible. Plus, your friends expect to be seated the furthest away, and won't take offense to not being able to reach out and touch you.
3. Consider the floor plan.
If you're removing tables for the dance floor, put your friends or "dancers" at those tables. They won't be offended, and I can easily persuade them to head to the bar for another drink.
4. Use your 3D seating chart!
At the Merc, one of our perks for you is a 3D seating chart. You are able to handle RSVPs, as well as all communication to me about your layout through this program. You're literally able to assign your guests to specific tables, as well as arrange them in the order you would like them sitting. This is a great way to navigate through your guest list to determine who should sit next to who.
Most importantly, having assigned tables ensures you have checked your list multiple times, and have a seat for everyone that RSVP'd. It may be inevitable to have "wedding crashers," but at least this way they aren't stealing seats from your actual guests.
So please, do yourself and your guests a favor, and have a seating chart! You don't necessarily have to be as strict as telling them which specific seat, but at least put them with some people they may know or like!
Here are some examples of some beautiful seating charts, but get creative and find a way to incorporate your own wedding style!
I can't wait to see what you all come up with!