Guest Seating Tips and Tricks to Make Your Wedding Reception Run Smoothly
When it comes to creating a stress-free wedding day, many times couples don’t think about the logistics of how the day will flow. It’s easy to underestimate the power of being organized while transitioning from cocktail hour to the reception. The good news is seating assignments for guests at the wedding reception can help solve A LOT of problems. Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to make sure every guest has a seat and dinner service runs smoothly!
First, let’s define some of the different guest seating options you have:
Escort Cards: An escort card is normally a piece of paper or item with the guest name and table number on it. Guests will pick up their escort card at cocktail hour or as they enter the wedding reception. This card will guide them to their proper table, but the card will not give them specific information on where to sit at their table.
Place Cards: A place card is a card at a specific seat at the table to designate where one certain person will sit.
Seating Charts: A seating chart is a visual indicator for guests to tell what number table is theirs. The seating chart is similar to the escort card in the sense it will not provide a designated seat for each guest, it will just tell them what table they are sitting at.
Here are some of the tips and tricks we use to help our couples out when it comes to seating their guests efficiently:
If having a plated meal with more than one entrée option, have your guests write on the RSVP what each person attending would like for the meal. With a plated meal you will want to have an escort or place card for each guest, rather than a seating chart, because you will need to indicate the meal choice for the caterer. Have the escort card coded based on the person’s entrée choice so the caterer has a visual for what to serve each guest without having to ask every person. We've seen couples use anything from different colored dots to chicken and fish stamps to indicate guest meals.
If you’re having a buffet or family-style dinner for your wedding reception, then providing one escort card for an entire family is fine since they will be able to select what they eat at the wedding without throwing off meal counts. Or you can use a seating chart.
When creating a seating chart, create it alphabetically and not by table number. Your guests will have an easier time finding their name and table number. If you really want to do your seating chart by table number then be sure to have it on display at cocktail hour so guests can take a look at it then rather than all gathering in front of it as they enter the reception space.
If you have several tables at the wedding reception where families will be seated and you’d like for them to sit together, make it easier on the guests and provide place cards to ensure the families don’t end up at opposite ends of the table, especially if they will be seated among people they don’t really know.
When setting up your escort cards, organize them alphabetically to make it easier for guests to find their name.
Place cards add more work for the couple because not only do you need to figure out who to sit guests with at each table, but you also need to decide who will sit beside who. So keep that in mind if you opt for that option.
To make seating even more efficient, place the escort cards or seating chart at cocktail hour before the reception space in an area where all guests will see it (by the bar or appetizer station seems to be a great spot). That way, all guests will know their table number and be able to enter the reception space without stopping in the entrance or lobby way to find their table number. This tip will help with traffic flow.
Occasionally we are asked by our couples if they need to have any type of assigned seating. The answer is YES! It may seem like a good idea to let guests sit anywhere they want but it ends up being mass chaos as the guests enter the reception space and try to grab seats together. Often times this stresses the guests out and confuses and upsets them. It takes a little more work on your end to assign the seating, but in the long run it works out much better.
When it comes to seating, what are your main concerns? Chances are, if you are stressing over it, we’ve seen another couple with the same type of worry. Let us help you out --- get in touch with Stylish Occasions today to see how we alleviate stress for our clients!