The great seating plan minefield

Ever tried to successfully seat 100 people together?

Well, that’s pretty much been today’s task. And let me tell you, it’s a diplomatic nightmare. With just a few clicks of the mouse on Top Table Planner (which, by the way guys, is a lifesaver – I can’t actually recommend it more, if you’re trying to do a seating plan you really have to check it out) I’ve both nearly caused and narrowly averted disaster within the space of five minutes.

I’ve always wanted a Nobel Peace Prize – perhaps after this endeavour, solving the Middle East crisis should be a piece of cake!

Every time I move someone, it creates an inappropriate pairing. Do I want my “Jack the lad” type mate next to my feminist friends from uni? No. Ah, but that leaves Miss X and Mr Y together – and they used to go out. OK, so if I just move Miss X over here, then Mr Y is stuck between two very elderly relatives… so I’ll just… argh!

BUT as long as everyone who I think is coming definitely RSVPs yes, I think I’m on to the winning formula. And I even picked up a few hints and tips along the way to help you guys do the same. A few dos and don’ts to get you started:

DO find out who’s coming and who isn’t – at least get a good enough idea to make a realistic plan in the first place.

DON’T tell people why you’re seating them away from other guests. You’re bound to offend someone.

DO make a list of who’s had falling outs, divorces, or who’s just unlikely to get along.

DON’T seat people apart just because they already know each other. Take it from a big social grump, I don’t go to weddings to meet new people. If I happen to, that’s great, but it doesn’t need to be orchestrated, regardless of what any etiquette guides will tell you. Seat people with their friends. They’ll have a much better time than if they’re awkwardly making small talk with strangers.

DO seat couples together. Again, the etiquette books will tell you otherwise, but if you put more than a minute’s thought into it, it makes very little sense for couples to be sat apart. If anyone disagrees with me, however, please argue with me (politely) I love it!

DON’T forget to seat yourself! The top table is also important!

DO think about age groups and interests, especially when someone won’t know anybody at the wedding. For example, I have a friend from an old job that definitely won’t know anyone. But she’ll almost certainly get on with my university friends.

DON’T make a really obvious singles table. It makes people feel like the dregs.

DO resist the temptation for comedy pairings (people who are likely to loathe each other on sight). It’s funny on paper, but you probably won’t be laughing on your wedding day.

DON’T get distracted by other people’s requests. Sure, take them into account, but if people start making demands from all angles, you don’t want to end up pulled in a million directions. If you follow all of the above, people will inevitably be fine where they’re sitting.

Have you made your seating plan? Have you run into any dramas trying to avoid social faux pas? I’d love to hear what you think!

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