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Wedding Seating Chart 101

April 23, 2020

What You Need To Know About Your Wedding Seating Chart

A whimsical wedding reception at Triunfo Creek Vineyards, acrylic seating chart with pink tassels and garlands
Photo by: Little Boat Photography

Hello, friends! Today, let’s talk about wedding signage and how adding more signage to your wedding, the better. Because even though you can assume your guests have been to at least one wedding before, every wedding is different! Guests appreciate quickly finding information so they can comfortably move from one thing to the another during your celebration. And one of the most important places for information, is at the seating chart. Also referred to as an escort board, a seating chart lets guests know where they’re expected to sit at dinner. “Escorting” them to their table, if you will. Without a seating chart, guests will be wandering aimlessly, and your reception dinner will never start on time. Trust me! But where do you start? There are so many different ideas and themes you can use, the world is your oyster! Below, I’m sharing a few of my favorite seating chart designs as well as tips for seating success!

Seating Chart Basics

There are a ton of different ways to design your seating chart. It just depends on your style and budget. However, two of the best ways to approach a seating chart are:

  • Display a full board arranged by table number with guests names under each table. This typically works well guests can find their names fairly easily. However, if you have 250 guests or more, it’s usually easier for them to be listed alphabetically with their table number next to their name. It makes it a little easier to find!
  • Another option is to have place cards or some sort of item that is alphabetically arranged by guest name (with the table number below or next to their name). Guests will generally take a place card or that item to their seat so if you want to have assigned seating at the table itself, I suggest an overall “board” and then place the cards at their seat at the table.
  • Don’t forget that often times, during a plated meal if your guests had to choose their meal choice, you need to indicate it on the card so that the wait staff knows what to serve them.

Seating Chart Design Ideas

Below are a few design ideas for your seating chart, plus a few of my favorites from past clients.

One of my favorite seating chart designs was a velvet tapestry designed by myself and Hue Creative for this wedding at Maravilla Gardens. They had almost 300 guests, so we decided to alphabetize by last name and list their table number to the right of their name to make it easy for guests.

Maravilla Gardens Wedding, bride and groom portraits, velvet dip dyed hanging seating chart
Photo by: Sisterlee Photography

Tip 1: Indicate Meal Preferences and Dietary Restrictions

A classic greenhouse wedding reception at Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm
Photo by: Sisterlee Photography

This tip is important: If you are having a plated meal at your reception, make it easier on your catering staff by indicating on the place card (or other name card) what the guests’ meal choice is, and if they have any dietary restrictions. You can do this numerous ways, either by color coding, adding an icon or simply writing it out. For example, maybe every guest that wanted beef has a pink writing on their place card and every guest that wanted a vegetarian meal has green writing on their place card. You can have fun with this but make sure your planner and catering staff know what your coding system means. If you have no idea, ask your wedding planner!

Note: If you are having a buffet meal, it’s still important to let catering know of any dietary restrictions, especially if a guest has a severe allergy. Let your wedding planner know which table they are at so they can communicate that with the banquet captain.

Tip 2: Having Assigned Seating At Table

Photo by: Jesialex Photography

While it’s not necessary, you can even take things a step further by assigning everyone specific seats while at their table. If you do plan to do this, using place cards or another means of indicating the guests’ name at each seat is necessary. While planning this out, give each chair at the table a number, and move clockwise for each table. For example, assign the chair facing north at every table the “#1”, then move clockwise until you reach back at the first chair. Then you can write down the names of each guest for every chair. This will help your planner get everyone in the correct seats during set up.

Tip 3: The Best Place For Your Seating Chart

A Fall Wedding reception at Calamigos Ranch, minimalist seating chart
Photo by: Studio Castillero

While the seating chart helps guests find their dinner seat, display the seating chart in cocktail hour first. This gives guests a chance to find their table ahead of dinner, and prevents a bottle neck at a small entrance when reception opens. Depending on the design, we can move the seating chart from cocktail hour into reception later.

Tip 4: Open + Suggested Seating Chart

A desert wedding in Ojai at Red Tail Ranch, vintage bride and groom, suggested seating chart
Photo by: Kayla Lilli Photo

A trend I am seeing more of recently open seating. Guests are allowed to sit where they please, though at this Ojai wedding the couple did provide a suggested seating chart. While I do love this idea, I would only recommend this for a smaller wedding guest count. Once you get past 50 guests, it can really become complicated with chairs per table, certain tables getting overcrowded, etc.

Hope this helped bring some seating chart inspiration to your wedding day! If you have any questions on seating charts, feel free to send us an email at kari@featheredarrowevents.com. If you’re ready to get this and other design details locked down for your big day, contact me on my homepage here and let’s chat!

Feathered Arrow Signature Kari Dirksen

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