With many wedding details, the decor options are endless, and we love areas where the couple can personalize the decor to make a wedding feel uniquely theirs. One detail item where this is particularly true is the seating chart. In many wedding designs, the seating chart is placed at the entrance to the reception hall or in the cocktail hour space, so this decor element is one of the first glimpses into your reception style and design. It should reflect the theme, style and overall wedding vibe, as well as provide clear information for guests.
And before you ask if a seating chart is necessary, we strongly recommend one for any wedding with more than 50 guests. You may think you're giving your guests freedom to choose their seat by not providing a chart, but there can actually be much confusion around finding a seat that slows down the beginning of the reception.
So if you know you need or want a seating chart, you can start planning the style and design long before wedding time - although it's important to remember that the chart shouldn't be completed until the RSVPs come in and you know who will actually be attending. Do yourself a favor and create your seating chart game plan long before those RSVPs arrive so you only have to plug the names into the design. But how do you decide what your seating chart will look like?
Consider Your Theme
As with any wedding detail, the first thing you want to do is consult your overall wedding theme and mood board. You want to be sure your seating chart goes well with your theme, but by no means does this limit you. For rustic weddings alone, we have seen refurbished window panes with calligraphy, large chalk boards, and clothespins on chicken wire with escort cards, and those are just three options from our past weddings. Any seating chart you've seen at a wedding or on Pinterest can be restyled to fit within your theme, but knowing your basic design focus helps you decide on the perfect option for your specific wedding day.
Use Your Creativity and Personality
Don't be afraid to do something you've never seen before. As long as the table assignments for each guest can clearly be found and read, the rest is up to your creativity and personality. Think about ideas from your relationship that hold significant meaning, or a physical element from your childhood that can be re-purposed. Even hobbies and activities you enjoy doing together can influence your design, like this adventure-inspired seating chart for a couple who loves hiking. One of our past brides used on old wooden door from her late grandmother's porch to showcase the table assignments. Another couple used a standard poster board but had it beautifully printed with a starry background to reflect their celestial theme.
Organized by Table or Guest Name
As you start thinking about the design elements you may want to include, it's also to keep in mind how you want your chart organized. There are two main options to consider: do you want your chart listed by table, or by guests' names in alphabetical order. There is no right or wrong option here, but if you have a high guest count, it can cut down on the amount of time guests need to look at the seating chart if they can quickly find their name by ABC order. No matter how you design the chart, make sure that it is legible so that anyone can read - yes, calligraphy is beautiful, but small, looping letters might be hard for grandma to decipher among a list of 200 names.
Play with Table Names
"Table names?" you ask, "But I thought it was table NUMBERS!" But remember that part where it's your wedding and you can do whatever you want? Yeah, you can get way more creative then just calling them Tables 1, 2 and 3. Why not have 4 long tables and call them Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Slytherin? Or name each table after a constellation. Or a childhood pet. Or your favorite bands. Let the naming convention flow into the design if possible; otherwise, it's fine to just have the names written on the seating chart and include something fun on the table itself to show off the table name.
Seating Charts vs Escort Cards
While some seating charts are actual charts, others include escort cards - pieces of paper that guests take with them, often attached to something, that has the guests' names and table assignments on them. For a romantic garden wedding, use a line of cord with clothes pins to hold leaves with guest names written on them, including the table number on the other side. Or consider attaching the escort card to a small vial of flowers that guests bring to their table for a garden wedding to add so many extra blooms to the table design.
Combining with Favors
Do you want to elevate your escort cards but you're worried about the budget for creating a living seating chart that guests take back to their seats with them? Double the escort cards as favors! Add the escort card to a small potted succulent or a tasty treat to take with. A small bottle of champagne with a cute tag will get the party started and guide guests to their seats. And you can focus your design into the escort card/favor display in a way that guests can't stop talking about.
So you know that you can keep things simple or elaborate, you can go with table numbers or names, and you can even double your seating chart with your favors for an entire seating chart display that guests can take with them. Is there anything you can't turn into a seating chart? Probably not, and the options really are limitless. So naturally we can't wait to see all the fun designs you come up with!
Want more exciting tips and tricks to plan your perfect, personalized wedding? We'd love to help!