Hey Abby: We’re making a seating chart for our wedding and we have awkward groupings at our tables. Any advice for assigning seats without making anyone feel left out?
One of the best compliments I received from our wedding was that our family and friends felt like they had great conversations over dinner and were able to meet new people they had a lot in common with. Carefully selecting the seating arrangements at your wedding can foster new bonds and relationships between the people in your life, allow your guests to have a fun and lively dinner together, and kick off a GREAT party.
Here’s my three-step formula for making the perfect seating chart:
Start with a basic breakdown of groups of people in your lives.
This usually looks something like this:
- Family #1
- Family #2
- Family Friends of Family #1
- Family Friends of Family #2
- Individual Friends: Friends that are not close to both the bride(s) and/or groom(s). For example: childhood friends, college roommates, coworkers, etc.
- Mutual Friends: Friends you’ve made since you started dating or friends that you both regularly spend time with.
- Other: Anyone who doesn’t fit into the above categories.
Layout a basic seating chart based on these groups. Don’t worry at this point if you have gaps at tables, or some people that don’t fit in quite yet. But make sure that you have a system to not lose track of people as you place them.
Here's what I recommend for tracking systems: If you’re a list-maker by nature, I recommend an excel spreadsheet that you highlight as you place people. If you’re a doodler by nature, I recommend individual post-it notes with guests names written on them to lay out and see visually.
Apply the secret formula!
This is my secret formula for planning the perfect seating chart:
Someone they know + Someone they don’t + A common bond = Engaging dinner conversation!
Nobody likes to be at the awkward table of random people in the corner. Ensure that everyone at the tables knows at least one other person at their table. Then, make an effort to mix the groups so there is someone at each table that may be new each guest, but shares a common interest with the rest of the table.
Here are some examples of good mixes:
- Each person’s coworkers who live in the same city, but don’t know each other.
- Your college friends and your fiancee’s college friends who share a common hobby (cooking, traveling, football)
- Your parent’s friends and your fiancee’s parents friends who both have children at the same stage in life.
- Your friends with small children and your parent’s friends who have grandchildren the same age.
- Your friend and her husband who is an avid music lover and your fiancee’s friend who plays in a band.
A little thoughtfulness goes a long way and your guests may end up forging connections and friendships beyond just your wedding day. True community at its best!