Ah the seating chart!
You have literally days before your wedding and on top of all the decisions you’ve made all year-long, you are now faced with the ultimate task of placing each of your guests in the perfect spot for your reception.
Location, quarreling relatives, single friends, high-profile co-workers, etc all play an important role in where to place whom. And to top it off, you’re working with both his side and yours! Double the insurmountable task.
Mike and I had to work around 238 of our nearest and #dearest guests in a space ideally meant to seat 230 people. We selected round tables (preferably with only 10 individuals per table) and 2 rectangle tables for a 14-person wedding party. Place cards still had to be ordered and shipped and our venue required final head counts, table numbers, and meals per each guest due in a few days. Despite all the pressure, we knocked out the chart in 2 evenings with little argument from either one of us. Here’s how we achieved the impossible.
Using this dry-erase board I had purchased from Target for under $10, we mapped out the reception venue room, drawing circles for each of our 22 tables we decided we would need to comfortable fit all our guests (without infringing on the dance floor space). We would be forced to fit 11 people at 3-4 of our tables, however we selected families with small children to assign to the few 11-tops. We numbered each table on the white board and then pulled up our excel guest list to begin assigning people to tables.
Mike and I started with the table nearest the wedding party and decided to work our way out from there. This table would obviously hold our parents, officiant, my grandparents, and a few select aunt and uncles. We next looked at our remaining aunts and uncles, cousins, and their respective guests. Some families fit perfectly at a table, others we wrote out on post-its and set aside until we could find another group to join their table.
We worked diligently until we reached table 16 and came to a frustrating stopping point. We seemed to have several groups of people, but at odd numbers that wouldn’t fit perfectly to a 10-top. We also had to factor in those relatives that were fighting, or those friends that simply did not get along, or those co-worker groups that were too many to a single table…who else would be suitable to fit with them?
Time for a break.
We slept on our half-finished seating chart and re-grouped the next night. Already that following morning I had come up with a solution for two of our work-in-progress tables. Taking a break helped extremely and we came at the seating chart task with renewed energy and focus. We mixed and matched our respective co-worker groups and cousins to help create even tables. With over half our guest list assigned to a table, we broke out the remaining 75 or so individuals into categories (spouses of wedding party, mom’s cousins, parents’ college friends, etc) and paired the groups evenly to the remaining tables. We kept in mind the location of our band and dance floor when caught between the final 2 remaining tables – opting to put Mike’s hockey and high-school friends at the table closest to the band stage, and my mom’s cousins at a table on the opposite end of the room.
We were ecstatic when our seating chart was completed and I was even more thrilled that it only took us 2 evenings to knock out the project. We had to make some compromises and understand that what we initially envisioned for our guests would not be the end result, however at the end of the day, everyone had a seat with someone they knew and loved and we would still be surrounded by all our closest family and friends on one of the most important nights of our lives.