Seating Guests at a LARGE Event

As of Saturday, we have gotten replies to 100% of our wedding invitations.  For some reason, we felt like it might not happen, but we managed to get in touch with all of our guests who hadn't replied and got their answers.  Now, it's time to focus on table arrangements.

In light of my commitment to paperless wedding planning, I originally signed up for a website that aims to facilitate the seating assignment process.  Unfortunately, it has no upload function, so you must do a considerable amount of data entry before you can do anything.  I dutifully typed in all of our guests and when I was almost done, the whole thing crashed on me.  It was a lovely hour that I wasn't about to repeat.

Perhaps the seating arrangement website crashing was a good thing.  Marc was actually very excited about this task.  He had pen and paper at the ready, but I had other plans.  Since he was enthusiastic, I decided to make the process a little more fun.

I pulled out my awesome circle cutter outer thing, bought during one of those sales that Michaels runs when everything with Martha Stewart's name on it is 40% and you can use a coupon to get another 25% off.  Since buying the circle cutter outer, I haven't used it, so I christened it by cutting out eight circles that would be our tables.

I then used Post-It flags to represent each couple or guest that is coming to our wedding.  I color coded them based on the social group of which they are a part (bridal party, my colleagues and friends, my family, Marc's colleagues and friends, Marc's family, and our mutual friends).  

Instead of the traditional head table, we are renting two farm tables from our florists, Pat and Sherry from Pat's Floral Design (Pat's husband/Sherry's father made the tables).  They can fit 8-10 people each and we'll probably have 17 people at those tables.  While our round tables can fit 10 people, we though it'd be nice to give everyone a little more elbow room, so we're seating eight people at each table.

The first attempt at putting everyone at a table went really well.  The groups emerged rather naturally.  We put our older guests at the tables closets to the dance floor so they wouldn't feel removed from the party if they wanted to sit down.  We put some of the younger people on the outskirts, assuming they might be more apt to stay on the dance floor once they get there. We were left with this:

We were quite proud of ourselves, but left the arrangement up for a day to see how we felt about it.  The next afternoon, we wondered if clustering people from similar social groups was a mistake.  Would the left side of the room mingle with the right side of the room?  What's more, we love all of these people and we think most of them would like each other, so perhaps it might be more fun to mix the tables up a bit.

We left our older friends and family where they were, but shuffled some of the younger folks around.  We even mixed a few tables because there were a few couples that we thought would really enjoy meeting each other.  Perhaps it's a little silly, but I kind of hope some new friendships come out of those mixed tables. 

What factors do you consider when seating guests for a party or event?   What tools do you use?


  1. people really just want to sit with their friends.  The only extra mingling you will get will be people crossing the room to see the friends you would have originally seated them with.  Seriously.  


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