Sometimes such a bone of contention: wedding seating charts. The short answer: Yes, you need one. Or – more accurate: you need some type of assigned seating at your wedding.
Here is what we hear all the time: I want my wedding to feel easy. I want my guest to feel relaxed. So they automatically assume that having assigned seating makes things feel rigid. Not having a seating chart seems more casual, right? Well in reality it leads to a high-school cafeteria situation, causing anxiety and confusion for guests. People are used to being told where to sit in this type of situation, so when this part is absent is actually causes more problems than it solves, and is the exact opposite of feeling easy. Additionally, people do not seat themselves in neat groups of 8 or 10 on their own, so without a seating chart be prepared to have more chairs and seating than you would otherwise (read: more $$$).
How to list things
We always suggest doing seating charts alphabetically by last name, as this is how people are usually looking for their name on lists out in the real world.
You can do it by Table Number or Table Name and get creative, and we’ve done this plenty without any real problems. But sometimes this takes people a bit longer to find their names if not in a recognizable order (thus adding to that timing we just mentioned) – so unless you are doing something creative like this – stick to alphabetical just to be safe.
For any type of actual chart or list – try to make sure your lettering is at least 1/2” tall, anything smaller and it makes it very difficult for people to read and find their names in a timely manner.
Helpful tips to make assigned seating smoother
Add some time on to your wedding day timeline for people to move from the cocktail hour, find their name on the seating chart (or pick up an escort card) and then move to their seats. Typically this is about 10-15 min per 100 guests.
Physically put the chart in an area where several people can have plenty of room to look for their names at the same time, and preferably as they walk into the dining room so they can do it in one motion when dinner is announced.
There are several amazing online tools out there to help you with assigned seating -we use and recommend AllSeated. No more little post it’s like I had to do with my wedding years ago!
Make seating an opportunity to get creative!
Really want to add a creative element to you wedding? Seating charts or escort cards are an excellent place to do it because they are something all your guests will interact with, but not something they will be looking at for a long period of time. This is where you can incorporate color, pattern, calligraphy, something like an art installation.
Bonus Tip: We’re big fans of adding favors to escort cards to pull double duty. This way Your favors are sure to be picked up and seen by guests! Add a cute tag and still place them in alpha order like you would plain cards for easy guest retrieval.