Arranging your seating chart is stressful enough with just family dynamics to consider—once you add in the timing factor (your vendors will need your seating plans well in advance of your wedding day!), the process can become even more overwhelming to think about. That begs the question: When do you need to finalize your wedding's seating chart, and will it be possible for us to make last-minute changes? Here, three planners share their tips on when you should complete your seating chart, plus what to do when you need to do a little eleventh hour rearranging.
While the idea of finishing your seating chart and sending it over to your wedding venues weeks before your wedding sounds nice, it's not always possible. There are a few other factors that will influence when the final hand-off is possible, like whether or not your caterer needs to know what your guests have chosen for dinner or if you've hired a calligrapher to create a custom seating chart. "As long as your calligrapher or printer has the full guest list to begin on the place cards and escort cards around two weeks in advance, you have time to perfect your seating chart up until about 72 hours," says Dawson Hayes, event producer at Easton Events. How does that work? With careful design. "We recommend choosing escort card envelopes, which allow flexibility with your final seating. This way you can insert or add the table number once your seating arrangement is complete!"
Kait Rovnyak, event producer at AaB Creates, agrees, adding, says, "Have the calligrapher write each name on mini envelopes, then you'll slip in the final card that says the table number once all seating is final." Even if you'll be adding the numbers, it's important to think about your pro's schedule. "To be able to get onto a calligrapher's schedule, without paying rush fees, you need 7-10 days to finish all your escort cards and place cards," she explains. That means you may need to finalize your seating chart two to three weeks before your wedding—you should account for the time it will take your calligrapher to do the work, but also any necessary shipping time to get the finished products to you.
"If you do have changes due to family dynamics or last-minute cancellations, I would do your best to roll with the existing chart as much as possible. One person missing from a table shouldn't cause too much worry," says wedding planner Beth Helmstetter. "My advice is to finalize the chart, give your day-of team leeway to make last minute shifts only if need be, and then never think about it again." While these three planners agree that finalizing your seating chart two weeks in advance is ideal, it's helpful to know that you can make changes at the last minute if you need to!