The Epping Club’s wedding expert Sunaina Goyal reveals the top tips for arranging your guests in a way that facilitates conversation, laughter and a streamlined reception. For more information visit The Epping Club’s Bridal Showcase on 17 August, register here
Oh, the contentious seating and floor plan! Family feuds have escalated, romance ignited and awkwardness intensified all because of the arrangement and layout of reception guests in the seating plan. Get it wrong and it could end in tears (or worse), get it right and conversations will naturally blossom.
With nearly 100 weddings a year, the experts from The Epping Club have seen it all and share their top tips for how to facilitate a successful seating plan:
Genuinely think about your guests
Taking the time to consider the situation of each of your guests is an important part of the process, and it’s beyond the obvious.
Separating divorced couples is a no brainer, but consider strategically placing the breast feeding cousin near the entrance so she can discreetly slip out in the middle of speeches to console a hungry baby.
If you take the time to think about the physical, emotional and situational needs of your guests they will feel more at ease and appreciate the thoughtfulness.
Rise above the hierarchy
It’s painful, but where people sit in relation to the bridal table can sometimes cause an issue among family and close friends, especially when they think they should be on the primary table.
Subtle table decoration changes can make a big difference in making your guests feel like they are on the “special table” without having to seat them with you.
Replicating the bridal table décor, such as gold-plated cutlery or a different colour flower arrangement, can go a long way to making your special guests feel included.
Turn the tables on your guests
‘King’ tables, which are rows of long tables are a rising trend as many couples opt to sit amongst the guests rather than on display.
King tables give a dramatic ‘wow’ factor and mean couples can surround themselves with those closest to them both in-front and behind their seats. Facilitating more interaction, this approach can breathe new life to the party rather than a more formal approach.
With many more seats than the traditional round table, it’s also a practical solution when it comes to deciding who gets to sit on the bridal table.
Consider ditching the place setting
Breathe. We’re not suggesting a free-for-all here. However, allowing some flexibility within seating can mean guests can naturally gravitate to those they are most comfortable with.
Rather than spending hours and hours (and dollars and dollars) on individual place cards, use the seating chart to guide your guests to their allocated table, but give them free rein to choose where they sit.
You can also have a little fun with your seating chart to set the tone of the evening by paying closer attention to the aesthetic and design of the chart. Like your invitations, it’s one of the first aspects of the design of the night that can set the tone of the whole reception. Why not make a statement?
Be prepared for more!
Last-minute RSVPs happen, and even worse, people who haven’t RSVP’d may even show up on the day! It happens more than you think.
To avoid awkwardness, talk to your venue about contingencies, or better still, prepare for unexpected additions. It is easy to exclude people closer to the date than it is to include them (especially if you’ve already changed the plan three times).
Some couples even pre-pay for a spare table so if there are ‘on the day shows’ you have somewhere to seat them!
For more information on creating a wedding format that facilitates free-flowing conversation and fun visit The Epping Club’s Bridal Showcase on 17 August, register here