Seating Chart Tips

Sara Wilson
A Tuscan head table, placed at the center of the room, anchored Kimberly and Patrick Dwyer's reception space at The Westin Columbus.

This story first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in June 2018.

Making the seating chart is an oft-dreaded task, and with good reason: It can get complicated, fast. Between drama about proximity of certain guests to each other to whether Great-Aunt Sally will be offended by sitting too far from the head table, figuring out who sits where can feel like a nightmare. Fortunately, Kasey Skobel-Conyers—owner of wedding-planning business Bliss Wedding & Event Design and florist Orchard Lane Flowers—is here to help with pro tips and suggestions.

Skobel-Conyers recommends laying things out on good old-fashioned pen and paper—or to make rearranging names even easier, Post-it notes.

“We provide our clients with a completed guest list in Excel, and they can fill in the table numbers once they've been decided on,” she says. “There are plenty of online seating tools, but you'll need to upload your guest list to their program, and that can create a margin for error that isn't fun to correct later.”

Some couples use their wedding as an opportunity to play matchmaker, sitting two single people together who have never met before or opting for the notorious “singles table.” This may not be the best plan.

“I know it may sound like a good idea to force people to mix and mingle, but this can be really uncomfortable for your guests and not necessarily a great memory. [Sit] family with family, friends with friends, as long as they mix well together,” Skobel-Conyers advises.

What about divorced parents? It depends on their current relationship. If they're in good standing, you can seat them together at a family table. But if they have trouble being cordial, Skobel-Conyers says it's best to “seat them at separate tables and not right next to each other. Seating the grandparents and any immediate siblings—aunts, uncles—helps fill in those tables' seats.”

When it comes to seating arrangements, Skobel-Conyers says brides sometimes don't realize how big a task it can be. Through her wedding-planning company, she offers a service that manages couples' RSVPs and organizes the final guest list to make the seating process easier.

If all else fails, consider using escort cards rather than assigned seating. Escort cards, a more casual choice, allow your guests to seat themselves at the table you designate for them, giving them a choice in who they sit next to.

At the end of the day, wedding invitees want to have a good time. Considering what seating options are best for your crowd will show that you care, and will make for happy guests at your event.