Keys to helping make the conversations flow

Keys to helping make the conversations flow

The seating for your wedding reception can be the perfect kickoff to the evening, giving guests a chance to chat about food, décor and the ceremony. Depending on your wedding venue, you might have a wide range of seating options available. "The couple's imagination is really the limit, and the amount of people they have," says Emilie Duncan of Emilie Duncan Event Planning. Here's a breakdown of choices for seating:

ROUND

Round tables are the most common kind of seating because they offer easier interaction among the guests seated there. They're also typically utilized for more traditional weddings, though they work in almost any setting. Round tables can accommodate anywhere from 4 to 12 people comfortably, and they allow you to have an uneven number of people at the table if necessary.

RECTANGLE/SQUARE

If you're choosing to have square or rectangular tables, think beforehand about balancing guests out on either side so no one's awkwardly left alone on the end. Also, be aware of how longer tables are styled. "Some people say long seating reminds them too much of a cafeteria," says Duncan. Don't be afraid to mix and match tables, either. "I like to incorporate squares and rectangles for a visual interest," says Duncan.

SWEETHEART

Perfect for couples who want a bit of alone time during the reception, sweetheart tables are a great option. Sitting at your own table can offer a much-needed breather to the busy evening.

WEDDING PARTY SEATING

Many couples like to sit with their wedding party to enjoy more time with them and set them apart as special guests. If a couple chooses to sit with the wedding party, their guests will need to be factored into the seating chart. Or, if wedding party guests are sitting at the table with the wedding party, be sure everyone gets along to avoid any awkwardness.

OPEN SEATING

"I always recommend the guests add about 10 percent extra seating to their seating chart because you're always going to have that family of five or group of three who wants to sit together," says Duncan. Open seating typically works best for smaller weddings, where most guests know each other and feel comfortable sitting with anyone.

PLACE CARDS/ESCORT CARDS

Place-card seating is assigned seating that tells guests exactly where to sit, while escort cards take guests to their table, but gives them the option to sit wherever they like at that designated table. Duncan recommends escort cards, as they're a great way to add structure to the seating chart but still give guests the freedom of choice. œ

Easing the seating chart headache

Dreading the seating chart? Emilie Duncan of Emilie Duncan Event Planning has tips on how to make it a bit easier when figuring out how to sort out friends, family and distant relatives.

"My biggest advice when it comes to the seating chart is I tell my clients not to overthink it," she says. "Guests are only going to be at their table for a couple of hours and anyone can get through anything for a couple of hours."

Duncan also suggested immediately pairing certain groups together once you receive their RSVPs. If you know all your friends from college are attending, put them at a table together on the seating chart from the beginning.Once you know the larger groups that need to sit, you can then work smaller groups into the mix.

And when creating the chart, use sticky notes to make it easy to move people around when figuring things out. Also, a portable seating chart that you can take with you is helpful during the planning process.