You've counted up RSVPs and have your wedding-planning logistics sorted out—except for your seating chart. Here's how to decide who's sitting where without completely losing your mind.
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Seat Assignment 101
Choosing your seating assignments for your wedding is easier said than done. To make the process as painless as possible, start devising your plan about two-to-three weeks before the big day, once all those last-minute RSVPs arrive. Unfortunately, there's no steadfast approach for deciding who gets what chair, but our tips will help you navigate the trickiest dilemmas. (Remember: You can always assign guests a particular table instead of a specific seat if that makes it easier!)
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Choose Your Table Shape
Once your guest list is finalized, you'll need to determine how many tables you'll need and how many people will be seated at each one. Keep in mind that shape plays an important role. While rectangular ones make it easier for guests to chat, round tables might be simpler for you to sort (you'll only need to pay mind to who's sitting directly next to one another).
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Put Pen to Paper
It's helpful to literally map out your seating chart.You can laminate pieces of paper printed with table shapes that you can label with dry erase markers, or using an online tool like All Seated. If you prefer color coordinating, divide your guest list into categories arranged by color (your college friends might be represented with pink, his in blue, and family in yellow, for example) and write out everyone's names on the appropriate colored post-it flag. Then, arrange—and rearrange—them on photocopied outlines of your table arrangements.
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Seat the Two of You First
As it is your big day, your table should be centrally located. Typically, you'll sit at a table by yourselves (AKA the "sweetheart table"), with your wedding party, or with your parents and a few close relatives and friends.
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Then Seat Your Wedding Party
Depending on the size of your wedding party—and how many of them invited plus ones—you can seat everyone together at one long head table, or divide the group among several tables that are situated near you and the groom.
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Put Family First
After you seat yourselves, place your parents somewhere close (unless they are sitting with you). Unlike the ceremony, where the groom's and bride's side traditionally sit separately, at the reception, you can mix things up and seat everyone together.
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Ask Your Parents for Help
Odds are that you don't know every one of your parents' friends as well as they do. Include mom and pop in the process by giving them a say as to where their friends should be seated.
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Find Common Ground
When seating remaining guests, consider their life experiences and interests. If you know your best friend, Rachel, is a hardcore hockey fan, you might seat her next to John, who played in college. Your ultimate goal is to create an atmosphere where your guests can have fun.
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Avoid a Singles' Table
Although love is in the air, don't be tempted to play matchmaker and seat all of the single guests together. Instead, intersperse single guests among couples, focusing on common interests, not relationship status.
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Bring Children Together
Kids like being around other kids, so a kid's table, and similarly, one for teenage guests, is a good way for everyone to have some fun, parents included!
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In terms of table placement, consider any special needs of your guests. Grandparents will likely have a better time in a well-lit area away from the band and speakers within view of the dance floor, but not in the thick of it.
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Get Creative Table Assignments
Once you finally settle on seating assignments (phew!), use the seating chart and table numbers as opportunities to get personal. Whatever their form, arrange your guests' names in alphabetical order with legible table assignments in a format that will guide guests to their seats smoothly.