How To Create The Perfect Seating Plan

Creating the perfect seating plan for your event does not need to be challenging! So long as you are equipped with the knowledge on how to go about tackling the seating task, you can do it with ease.

We had the pleasure of speaking with event planner, Vanda High from Vanda High Events here in Manhattan to help guide us in creating the perfect seating plan. Here are her words of wisdom!

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Deciding how to seat your guests takes diplomacy and common sense. There is really no right or wrong way, however, there are basic seating chart guidelines that can make the job easier and hopefully more successful.

1. Start with designing a floorplan to-scale.

When you have a floorplan designed to-scale, it will help you to accurately design your layout because you can determine the size of your tables and how many will fit in the space.  In addition to including your tables within the floorplan, you should also include the dance floor, the band space, bars, and buffets (if needed), entrances and exits. It’s also important to mark the entrances, exits, bathrooms, and kitchen.

This working floorplan should be created once the bride has a pretty good idea of her guest count which is usually 3 to 4 weeks before the wedding. While it can be done earlier, there will most likely be last-minute changes that can substantially throw off the entire seating plan.

2. Determine Tables

As a general rule of thumb, most floorplans will be based on using 60” rounds with 10 guests at each table. Therefore, if you are expecting 100 guests, you will need 10 tables.

But, as with everything, there are exceptions:

  • 36” round seats  4 or 5 guests  —  primarily used in the cocktail space.
  • 42” round  seats 5 to 7 guests
  • 48” round seats 6 to 8 guests
  • 54” round seats 7 to 9 guests
  • 60” round seats 8 to 10 guests
  • 66” round seats 9 to 11 guests
  • 72” round seats 10 to 12 guests

In addition to these basic table sizes, there are squares, rectangles, farm tables, light up tables, high boys, ½ rounds and serpentine. Work with your banquet manager to learn which table options they offer or if you are renting tables, work with your florist/designer to find the table that is right for the design of the space.

VAnda HIgh Events

3. When you are creating the floorplan, it is a good idea to start with a few extra tables.

If you have 100 guests and believe that you will need 10 tables, start with a floor plan that has 12 or 13 tables. Even though a 60” round can hold up to 10 guests, you might find that you have a group of 9 cousins that need to sit together or you have 8 work friends that should sit by themselves. Having the extra tables will give you the flexibility to seat your guests the best way possible. Also worth noting — brides like to mix table sizes!

You might have a total of 10 tables, but 8 will be 60” rounds and 2 will be 72” rounds because you needed to have a few larger groups. Again, your options will need to come from the banquet manager as they will know what will work best in their space and the floor plan has to reflect the needs of the wait staff moving between the tables to serve and clear properly.

4. Seating Chart

Time to start assigning seats — start with the bride and groom!

The bride and groom may wish to sit with the bridal party – this may require a special table that can be created using rectangles. Tell your banquet manager that you would like to create a head table that will seat 17 guests and see what they suggest. Or the bride and groom may wish to sit by themselves at what is called a “Sweetheart Table”, or the bride and groom can sit at a family table.

After the bride and groom are set, seat your families, and any remaining bridal party members. The tables around the bride and groom should have immediate family or close friends. As you encounter tricky dilemmas along the way — and you know you will – try seating the difficult person at different tables until you find the space that is best.

Sometimes the room is divided so that the bride and groom are in the middle of the room facing the band and the bride’s family and friends are seated on the right side of the room and the groom’s family and friends are seated on the left side. And sometimes the room is mixed. Again – there is no right or wrong way to do this.

If you have a guest who has trouble walking or uses a wheelchair, try to place this guest at a table that will allow easy access to the door so that they do not have to maneuver through the entire room.

Since the tables that are positioned closest to the band tend to be a bit louder, it’s a good idea to be the younger guests at these tables as they are least likely to mind being next to the band and around the dance floor.

If you have family members or friends who do not get along or parents who are divorced and have trouble being with each other, then it is best to separate them and place their tables on opposite sides of the room. It is unfortunate when this happens but it does happen and it is best to deal with it.

5. Last-minute changes will always occur so be prepared!

A guest may drop out because they get ill or have a family emergency. Or,  you have invited a friend as a single but they show up with a date….Be sure to go over the seating plan the night before the wedding, just to confirm any changes that have happened in the last minute.

Plan to bring extra escort cards and a nice pen to make any last-minute changes.

Good luck!

Vanda High Events is a full-service event planning company that was established in 1988. They design and coordinate each event to meet the needs and desires of the bride or event host. Vanda High is well known for its extreme attention to detail and managing even the most complex events, including overseas destinations like Africa!

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