Deciding on a seating chart is one of the most stressful things for a soon-to-be bride. In nearly every family, there are people who can't sit next to each other, those who want seating near a bathroom and those who don't RSVP but still come to the wedding. Brides also have to deal with the same issues in relation to the groom's family and friends, including some issues that she didn't know about before. Simply coming up with a seating plan isn't enough, as you also need to focus on the etiquette of your seating.
- Wedding etiquette states that you should make your guests feel as comfortable as possible by mixing your guests with others that they know. At the same time, you should also create a better mixture of people by incorporating new names and faces into the group. For example, seat a few friends interested in sports with a group of business associates who share the same interests. By the same token, mix your friends and family together by common interests. Also, determine if you want a single table for those guests who are not bringing a date.
- No matter how prepared you are, you're bound to have a few curveballs come at you. The best thing to do is prepare for the inevitable by leaving a few empty seats scattered around the room. You may find that your two best friends have a falling out and are no longer speaking or that your aunt and uncle decided to get divorced. Seating those people at the same table is a disaster in the making. Leaving empty seats at the reception also helps if a few of your guests bring dates without telling you beforehand.
- As soon as you start getting responses back in the mail, create a basic seating chart with pencil and paper, which lets you make any changes later by simply erasing and writing in new information. Sketch out the number of tables and chairs you have available and start filling in names. Keep your seating chart up-to-date throughout the wedding planning, moving out names of people not attending and adding in new responses.
- Tradition dictates that the bride and groom sit at a central table, typically at the front of the room where other tables can see them. Occasionally this is referred to as a couple's table because it consists only of the bride and groom, but it's also known as the bridal table because most couples choose to sit with their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Two tables at either side of the main table are reserved for the family of the bride and the family of the groom. The rest of the tables are set up for close friends, family members and others invited to the reception.
- On the day of the wedding, you have different ways to let guests know where to sit. Escort cards typically have a table number inside, with the guest's name on the outer envelope. They tell guests which table they're at, but it's their choice where they sit at the table. Another popular choice is place cards, which are set at each table setting. Guests know exactly where they're supposed to sit. Some brides prefer giving guests a name tag and letting them sit anywhere inside the reception, except at a table reserved for the family.
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