Table Plans and Seating Plans
Table plans are a good way of organising your guests for the reception. Some venues will provide a basic table plan for you but often the bridal party are disappointed when they see a poorly printed or photocopied list taped to the door!
When your guests have replied to your invitations and you know who’s attending you can then work out your seating plan. The venue will tell you, for the number of people attending, how many tables you will have and where they will be placed. It’s then up to you to determine who sits where.
The seating arrangements need careful thought; often weddings are reunions for friends and family who haven’t seen each other for a long time. Usually close family and friends are seated nearest the top table and it is customary to alternate male and female guests. For round tables, partners are usually side-by-side but sit opposite one another on long tables. Children can be seated with parents or on a ‘Children’s Table’ with some responsible adults (but remember that small children are likely to keep wandering back and forth to mum or dad!).
It’s best to seat guests with a mutual interest or background together to help them feel more comfortable and relax. An ‘Honoured Guest’ table can be helpful for those who are not able to sit at the ‘Top Table’.
The easiest way to sort out your seating plan is to write out the names of your guests on some slips of paper and place them around a sketch of the tables until you’re happy with the arrangement.
Your table plan is the printed version of your seating plan. If you want to avoid the lists pinned to the door then a handmade table plan is ideal. If you are creative you may like to make the table plan yourself but please beware - usually the seating plan is only finalised in the last few weeks and you may be busy organising lots of other details and making your own table plan will just be an added pressure.
The table plan itself can be in many formats; framed or unframed, large or small much of it will depend on the size of your wedding and your budget. Check with the venue to see how it can be displayed, small table plans can be placed on a small stand on a table, larger ones are usually placed on easels. In all cases they’re usually near the door to the place of the reception.
Variations include little envelopes with the guest’s names on tied with bows to the door of the reception – inside being the table at which the guest is seated.
Whatever your type of table plan you will need some corresponding ‘labels’ for your tables, these are called the table name cards. You might like to name or number your tables. Naming your tables is particularly nice if you have a theme running through the wedding. Usually handmade table name cards are designed to match your table plan so that everything coordinates. They may be free standing or placed in holders. How many you need for each table is simply determined by the size of the table - but usually one is sufficient.
Always be prepared for any potential last minute changes.
Whatever you decide you can be sure that having your table plan handmade, with matching table stationery (menus, place cards and favour boxes) not only looks stunning but will be a guaranteed talking point for your guests and is a lasting souvenir of your special day!
© Donna Biggs 2005