December 4

Rant or Rave: Seating Chart or No Seating Chart?

One of the Wedding Paper Divas girls recently attended a wedding that ran into a slight hiccup. A seating chart was made denoting where each guest should sit, but since the wedding planner was running late the staff failed to implement it. Instead, the reception became a free for all, with guests sitting wherever they please, the bride and grooms’ families complaining that they weren’t permitted to sit up front and waiters thoroughly confused as to which table had three prime ribs and which table only had two.

In short, it turned into a bit of a fiasco.


This type of debacle begs the question—is it better to have a seating chart, or to simply go without?

What’s your favorite way to arrange guests at a wedding? Pre-arranged tables? Open seating? Front tables reserved for family but no strict seating chart?

Do wedding seating charts make you want to rant or rave?


8 Comments   |   Posted in: Rant or Rave, Wedding Planning
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About Katie

Katie M. is a Writer at Wedding Paper Divas. She has the privilege of viewing nearly every piece of stationery before it goes up on the website, giving her the ultimate inside scoop on upcoming trends in the stationery world. She loves classic designs with a surprising twist, and enjoys finding new ways to express her ever-evolving personal style—a blend of traditional glamour and bohemian whimsy that makes Wedding Paper Divas a perfect fit! In addition to her love for writing, Katie is obsessed with health and fitness, skincare, UC Santa Barbara, all things adorable, the beach, dancing, cooking, getting real mail, fresh flowers, discount shopping, and shoes (who isn’t?). Katie is a contributing editor to Diva Dialogue. Be sure to check out her recurring feature, “Rant or Rave.”

8 thoughts on “Rant or Rave: Seating Chart or No Seating Chart?

  1. Nicole

    DEFINITELY a seating chart. I just went to a wedding two weeks ago with open seating. It was horrible. My husband and I only knew a couple of people and their table was full. We felt awkward choosing a seat with strangers.

  2. RobbieLee at Chickiedee

    There’s a lot to think about here. If it’s a formal wedding, a seating chart is nice, if it’s casual, there’s no need. We had a formal wedding, so I did a seating chart, mainly to mix the two sides of family and friends. I don’t like going to a wedding where the Bride’s side of the family sticks with who they know and the same with the Groom’s side. It’s a party to mesh the two sides, so we put half of each of our sides at each table. There will always be those who move, but at that point, who cares 🙂 as long as your and your man are having a great time!

  3. Nichole- Cosmopolitan Events

    Loaded question! How/if guests should be arranged completely depends on the situation. Scenario #1: Guests have returned their RSVP with their choice of Chicken, Filet , or Veggie…… You MUST have Escort cards or Seating Board (to tell the guests what table to go to, as the catering staff knows how many chickens/beef’s/veggies are at particular tables…..) and then you should have a place card in front of each guest. Each place card have a variation in design/color to signal to the waiter which food choice that guest has, again the catering staff should be given a seating chart/food choice list BEFORE the event. If you don’t want each guest to have a specific seat at the table and want to forego the place cards, just make sure your Escort Cards have a way of telling the catering staff what food choice that guest has chosen. The only downside is that you can’t be sure that someone wont stick the escort card in their purse or pocket after they have reached their table, so place cards are recommended. Also a side tangent…. When you send out your invitations and ask guests to choose whether they want Chicken, Filet, or Veggie, Ask them to write their initials next to their individual food choice, that way, you know who specifically wants the chicken, and who specifically wants the filet when you have more than one person responding on an RSVP. Having this information will allow you to design the appropriate place card and can then relay that info to your catering staff. It is not proper to have your waiter ask each guest what they have ordered. Scenario #2 There are no food choices and everyone is given the same meal…. Escort Cards or a seating board are appropriate in this case. Escort cards will tell each guest which table to sit at, and once they get there, they can sit where they please. A Seating Board is a great idea and is the cost effective solution if you want to forgo the Escort Cards. But you must keep a few things in mind when doing a seating board. Lets say you have under 75 people attending your wedding…. You can get very creative with this, listing each table number with all of the guests whom are supposed to sit at that table directly under the number, as it wont take long for the guest to find their name. If you have over 75 people, you need to list the guests in alphabetical order with the table number next to their name, so it is easy for each guest to locate their name and where they will be sitting. Scenario #3 Food Stations or Buffet: Escort Cards or a seating chart are appropriate here, and are still recommended, but it is the Brides choice!

  4. Courtney S.

    I went to one recently without one, and it was ok, but we had to pull chairs from another table to fit a friend’s husband. When we asked one of the workers, they didn’t have any spare chairs at all.

    My friend went to one where she only knew the bride and groom. She sat at a table with her husband–ended up sitting with the grandparents! She’s in the background of all the pictures and she just felt awkward to have such prime space.

    A seating chart–or at least reserved tables–is a must.

  5. Toptableplanner

    For smaller weddings, say with less than 50 guests, there’s probably no need to have a formal seating chart. However, for larger weddings it’s certainly worth thinking about. As you quite rightly point out, it can turn into a bit of a fiasco with guests trying to find tables with enough free seats for their group and close friends and family sitting at the back.

    There’s no need to always assign people to exact seats – you could just assign people to tables, or even just reserve a few tables for closest friends and family.

  6. Cheryl

    Definitely use one! We placed our immediate families/bridal party near us at the head table, then our friends that would be going to the bar the most closest to the bar, elders that would need access into the room maybe quickly closest to the door, etc etc – we made sure where we put each person, they would feel comfortable both with their table-mates and location. I didn’t say oh, Aunt Nancy you have to sit at Table 8, chair #3, but I did say atleast #8. Also, I coded the escort cards for what meal the person was getting, so it helped the waitstaff (I think;)).

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