The way some people describe it, creating your seating chart is like all the worst parts of logic puzzles and working out the Lament Configuration. For many couples figuring out where everyone is supposed to sit during the wedding is like trying to disarm a bomb, a tense game where it feels like your whole wedding will collapse around you with one wrong move. But it doesn't have to be that way, especially if you keep these four tips from your favorite Boston Wedding Photographer in mind.
1. Assign by Table: Don't take the idea of a "seating chart" too literally, there's no real reason you have to plan out exactly where everyone is going to sit. It's simpler to assign people by table. The flow of people to their seats will work just as smoothly and you can use marks on escort cards if your caterers need to know which meal each guest ordered (servers will usually ask anyway).
2. Alphabetize: When you're arranging your escort cards or designing the seating chart for your guests, list people alphabetically. In my years as a Boston wedding photographer I've seen couples try it other ways and usually just means people spend too much time trying to find their seats because the groom thought it was a great idea to list people in the order they met or because everyone had to get sorted into their Hogwarts house first.
3. Delegate: Blocks of invites are frequently bartered away during the wedding planning process. If you're busy with other wedding tasks, just ask the person commanding those invites to come up with their table assignments - you need every little bit of space you can get on your plate during wedding planning.
4. Don't Panic: Barring certain BDSM-themed weddings, most events don't involve chaining guests up to their chairs and guests will rarely stay in place once dinner is over. Mostly a table is a place to eat, have some conversation, and a spot to put your stuff before you hit the dance floor. So don't worry if you couldn't figure out how to sit all your best friends together, or casually sit your New England wedding photographer by your newly single astrophysicist-billionaire cousin who is in a rock band, you can always drag them together during the rest of the reception.
But why bother with a seating chart if it's so much hassle?
Two reasons. The first being that you want your guests to be able to quickly and comfortably find seats, because that shiftless wandering around the room to find two or three spare seats in heckin' awkward (as some of us might remember from being Freshmen in high school, do you want your wedding to remind people of their awkward teen years?). Second because it lets you make an efficient use of your tables and space. Also, dinner service will run a lot more smoothly if servers have a good idea where they'll be dropping plates.
If you're dead set against creating a seating chart, the best advice is to provide more seating than guests (depending on your venue, maybe another 10 percent). This set up can work well with buffet service because it will avoid the need for extra place settings. You can also reserve tables in premium positions for your wedding VIPs.
What will you be doing about seating at your wedding?
Ryan Richardson is a wedding and engagement photographer serving Boston and beyond; including Cape Cod Weddings, New England Weddings, Massachusetts Weddings and Rhode Island Weddings.