(2 Months to 3 Months before your Wedding)
As your RSVPs from your wedding invitations get returned, update your wedding organizer/planner on all the responses. Update whether your invited wedding guests have accepted your invitation and mark down any other particulars you were requesting such as the entree they have chosen or other items such as, are they booking a room at one of the hotels you have reserved for out of town guests.
If the RSVPs are not returned after 3 days in which they are due, you need to try to make contact with them either by phone call or email. You may need to reach them also if they do not provide feedback on their entree or with any other open matters to discuss. If any of your guests have declined the invitation, you can go back to your prioritized B list and invite the next guests off of your reserved list, send the invitations out right away. You want to be sure the RSVP due dates gets changed to a later date, you don't want the date to show too far out because you need to contact the wedding vendors of the wedding guest headcount shortly.
Once all wedding guests have responded with their RSVP, get a headcount for each of the entree counts from your wedding planner/organizer and give a tally of the counts to your caterer. Verify how you are going to handle food for the children and for your wedding vendors, are they going to get an entree or a separate meal. You will also want to forward the wedding guest headcount to the other vendors as well, you want to forward the amounts to your church, chapel, or ceremony site, to the reception facility if different than the caterer, to the florist, decorator, wedding planner (if you are using one), cake baker, photographer, videographer, disc jockey, and wedding musicians. It's also a good time to check in with your wedding vendors to see where things stand.
After your vendors have been contacted, it's time to move on to preparing the seating chart for your wedding reception. Many wedding reception facilities might have provided their unique tool to help you out, there are many online seating programs available too or you can create one the old fashioned way or maybe you can find a classroom with a white board to borrow one day when the room is not in use.
Developing a seating chart for a wedding is basically a solving logic problem exercise. There are tricks to create a seating arrangement quickly and easily. Take out your list of wedding guests and divide them into logical groups; the wedding party, the bride's family group, the groom's family group, the bride's friends group, the groom's friends group, the work friends group, the wedding vendors group, etc.
Guests will tend to seek out people they know from their past, so you should attempt to have them sit together or near each other. Wait until all RSVPs have been returned before laying out the seating arrangements or you may cause yourself doing extra work. You want to match people with compatible people, older people with older people, younger people with younger people, children with other children (unless they're rambunctious, put them with their parents), and teenagers with other teenagers.
You will need a large work area to create your wedding seating plan, a dining room table, a banquet table, a white board in an empty classroom, or on a computer. It is recommended that the bride and groom or a knowledgeable family member help in the project. Next get a large piece of cardboard, unless it's a white board and draw a rough outline of the room setup. Next draw the location of all the tables, i.e. the head table, all the reception tables, the DJ tables, the buffet tables, the wedding cake table, and any other tables needed for the reception room.
Next you need to identify the wedding guest list and put them into logical groups. One idea is to buy post-it notes in different colors or use colored poker chips. Write names on the colored post-it notes or print out and tape names on to the poker chips. The bridal group is one color, the bride's family another, the groom's family another and so on and so on. You then start assigning assigning people to tables.
First you assign the wedding party, the bridal party are generally situated on a long table, often on a raised platform called a dais, facing out to all the wedding guests. The bride and groom are situated in the middle seats, usually the bride in the right seat facing out. The general option is to have it male female male female, with the best man sitting next to the bride and maid of honor sitting next to the groom. Another option, is to have all groomsmen on the side with the groom and all bridesmaids on the side with the bride. The best man seated next to the groom and maid of honor seated next to the bride. If it's a smaller wedding, the bride's and groom's parents could be seated on the head table, but for most weddings it's not the case.
The bride's family is the next group to be seated, the table selected should be the closest and best view of the head table. The bride's parents and grandparents should get the best view of the bride with their seats facing the head table, to get a good look at their daughter and a good location for best man speeches and toasts. If the wedding officiant (and if their is a spouse) is in attendance to the wedding, they should be seated with the bride's parents. If the parent's are divorced, allow each parent to host a table. Siblings can either be seated alongside with their parents or host their own table. The groom's family should be seated in the same fashion as the bride's family.
You now want to seat the rest of the families, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, close friends of the family as close to the head table as possible. Next seat your guests, many of whom won't fit with into any particular group, try to seat them with guests with common interests. Don't seat calmer people with rowdy people and non-drinkers with drinkers. Position those who are younger or like to dance near the dance floor if you have one and position older people away from the dance floor and more convenient to rest rooms.
If you have a table with wedding vendors, have them in a convenient position, so the DJ can escape on cue, the photographer and videographer can take pictures on a moments notice, and the wedding planner can cue when food, coffee, or desserts are to be served. Make sure the wedding cake table is not in a dangerous location like near a dance floor where it may be bumped and away from a wall for picture taking.
As you are developing seating arrangements, if you have a group of twelve and the table holds ten people split the group evenly in half, six to one table and six to another table and fill the four seats with unmatched guests. Try to avoid empty seats at a table, for a half empty table is depressing to anyone seated at it and they might end up feeling slighted and not have a good time. If tables are long rectangles, seat family close to the head table and process gradually to family friends. Friends understand they don't get the best seats and tables at a wedding.
When using round tables, seat couples together, and then arrange an alternate male female pattern. With a long table place couples across from each other. Have male female seating on the same side of long tables. Avoid creating tables with a single family group, this is a wedding after all and you want guests mingling. If you are trying to connect a guy and a girl don't be too obvious. Seat them catty corner from one another maybe three seats apart, leaving them close enough to connect for themselves but do not make them feel in the spotlight by seating them next to each other.
If you are think creating a seating chart is too much work, and let wedding guests to seat themselves wherever they choose, reconsider! Chaos may ensue, many guests will fight for the best seats. Many of your guests will end up with total strangers and different personality types. If you want a fabulous wedding, it starts with harmonic seating.
Use place cards to show your wedding guests to seat, it's a nice idea to create a wedding favor out of them as a memento from the big day. You should number or name each of the tables and it makes it easier for the caterer too. Also have place cards near the entrance off to the side a little, you don't want to create a bottleneck at the entrance. You can do it one of two ways, folded alphabetical on a table or on a big board sitting on an easel with a blown up seating.
If you create a seating chart using Microsoft Publisher you can save the file as a PDF extension file and save if to a CD, you can then take the file to Staples or Kinko and upload the file on a large sheet of your choosing. You find an antique picture frame to apply it to and wahlah you have a keepsake document. Make sure a picture is taken for your wedding album.
When you apply the names to the place cards put the first and last names on the place cards not Mr. and Mrs. Smith. You want everybody talking on a first name basis like you always have been friends. When you have not seen somebody for many even sometimes a couple of years you forget peoples names. People also may look quite different after a number of years and are not recognizable. The place cards help prevent your guests from embarrassing situations.
Also apply simple titles to the place cards, use Dr. if a doctor or a military title such as Lieutenant, Major, or Corporal etc. Don't use advanced degree titles though. But always include first names such as Dr. Keith Smith and always use the first name of the wife too. Nancy Smith and not Mrs. Smith.
There are a number of computer software packages that can help you with your seating charts. Some of the more popular packages are noted below.
Wedding Reception Seating Charts
Many wedding coordinators at reception facilities and hotels might have seating charts for their facility too. You want a fantastic wedding, help create a harmonic chemistry for it and create a great seating chart.
See you on the other side!