Granted, there’s a lot to get through when it comes to wedding planning and some tasks are a bit nicer than others – YES to cake tasting, trying on shoes and buying pretty things. And then of course there are the tasks that are met with dread, one of them that always features highly on the ‘stress’ list is the seating plan. For some the idea of trying to wade through family politics and ensure everyone is happy can seem a bit on the daunting side with brides often joking about turning to a bottle of vino to get through it but it doesn’t have to be the nightmare it’s made out to be. While it can seem like a bit of a thankless task, it really isn’t that bad at all; we’ve got 10 easy tips that will have you sailing through the seating plan – no alcohol needed.
P.S. After a creative table plan? Take a peek at Table Plan Designs who can come to the rescue and whip up a masterpiece for you whether you’re after a footie, music or comic themed table plan. Check out some of their awesome designs here!
18 Creative Ways to Display Your Wedding Table Plan
1. Get organised. The best way to go about it is with an excel sheet (or if your venue has a Moposa system, they have a rather nifty table planner you can use). If not, pop open your excel sheet – create a column per table and make a list of all your guests.
2. Find a helpful ally. Get some help from someone that can think logically and won’t get you riled up – if your mam has a list as long as her arm of friends she wouldn’t mind ‘squeezing in’, perhaps she is not the person to tackle this with. But if your good friend Claire is the one you always turn to for no nonsense, practical advice, invite her round to go through it with you (with/without your OH if he or she is/isn’t up for it).
3. Don’t build it up. It has a bit of a bad rep the seating plan, but really you won’t need a bottle of wine and a stress ball to get you through it. It just takes a bit of patience, logical thinking and talking it through with your other half or designated practical thinker. If you build it up in to something awful, you’ll dread the very sight of the excel sheet. Think about it as getting one step closer to the Big Day and the way the room will look in just a few weeks’ time! Yeah, there may be family politics to contend with but ultimately, everyone wants the best for you and will deal with having to sit across from X if comes down to it.
Tara O’Farrell’s Elegant Table Plan by Table Plan Designs
4. Know your venue. Before you start, check with your venue how many fit comfortably at a table (the absolute max so you know what numbers you’re playing with) – is it 10 or 12 to a table, how many tables do they have, are they round, trestle or square? Can they send you on a room layout? If not and you want to visualise it, have a look at real weddings held there so you can picture the setting or get creative and grab a piece of paper, a pencil and some posts-its and do a mock up that way so you know what you’re working with.
5. Wait until you have your RSVPs back. It makes sense but in case you feel like getting a head start, you’re better off waiting until the RSVPs are all back. While you could have sworn your good pal Linda wouldn’t have missed it for the world, something may have popped up since you last chatted meaning she can’t attend. You don’t want to have to do the job twice.
6. Group together people naturally. Start by grouping together people under categories – your close family, aunts and uncles, wok friends, college friends, his footie team etc. This way you know who you need to keep together.
Photo from Julie & Scott’s real wedding by The Fennells
7. Keep in mind those closest to you typically are seated nearest the top table. The tables nearest the top table are generally for those closest to you – family and friends. So work it that way. Keep you brothers and sisters next to the top table, followed by your aunts and uncles and besties or whatever way you want to work it and keep going until you’ve reached the outer tables.
8. Assign tables not seats. More and more couples are assigning guests a table as opposed to an exact seat. It means you don’t have to make up place cards (yay, another thing off the to-do list) and guests will find a seat at their assigned table themselves – sorted. While leaving guests to pick their own table entirely can cause mayhem, this approach is a bit more relaxed and you don’t have the added worry of who you’re seating next to each other.
9. Don’t rush it. If you’re feeling stumped by something, grab a cuppa and come back to it. Yes, it can be nice to tick it off the checklist in one sitting but if it’s really stressing you out, come back to it later and you’ll be able to see things clearer.
10. Don’t stress last minute changes. Someone may rock up with an unexpected plus one or have a strop that they’re not sitting next to the school girls. These types of things are inevitable and aren’t worth losing sleep over. An extra chair can be added to a table on the day by the hotel staff if your cousin does bring his girlfriend of one week along if needs to be so don’t worry unnecessarily!
Main photo from Ashley & Michael’s real wedding by Fleeting Moments Photography
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Pamela enjoys writing about all things decor (she loves buying it too) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery.