You may think that abandoning a traditional seating plan will save you legwork in the long run, but hold up a second; there’s more to it than you might think.
In a survey by YouGov, it’s been shown that 84% of people prefer their host to assign them a seat or table at a wedding. This is probably because it makes the event a lot more streamlined and generates less stress on the day – for both you and your guests.
Certain guests will need some degree of priority seating, which is what makes seating plans so awkward to do well. You have to accommodate for the young, the elderly, the family feuds or even just accessibility for the caterers. You need to make sure you’ve thought of any disabilities and how they might effect a person’s enjoyment of your ceremony and reception, and you need to make sure all your fire exits are clear of obstruction and so forth. The list is pretty much endless and individual requirements vary wildly.
A top tip of ours is to know exactly what kind of arrangement you’re after – don’t be afraid to throw away tradition. A lot of traditional wedding arrangements would imply that you should seat your guests male, female, male, female, etc. There’s no need for this unless you really want to conform to a very traditional affair, and are in a position to do so. There are a lot of reasons why this doesn’t work for some people; ranging from issues like gender identity and same-sex couples, all the way to families feuding and marital couples boring each other to death. Honestly, one idea that can really work is actually splitting some couples up so they get to meet and socialise with new people or soon-to-be family members. It might not be a good idea for couples that are introvert or don’t know anyone else, but for outgoing people with lots of common interests it’s a great opportunity to make friends and get to know everybody.
Having a seating plan prevents your guests from ambling around trying to get the best seats. It stops couples that don’t want to be split up, being split up. It means that any elderly people with hearing difficulties or visual impairments won’t get trapped at the back of the room, where they can’t see or hear the important speeches. It makes it an awful lot easier for the caterers to see where any vegetarians/vegans/halal/kosher/gluten-free/etc. people are seated so they can be served quicker and it means that there won’t be any lonely stragglers milling around looking for an amicable set of strangers to sit with at the last minute.
A good idea is to seat the children in the least favourable positions, as they’re most likely to be the least interested in speeches and various goings-on. They’ll probably entertain themselves with whatever’s provided, so in terms of seating, they’re not too bad to cater for.
Don’t, whatever you do, seat the elderly, pregnant or anyone with a disability away from the toilets or blocking a fire door. Make sure they have a comfortable environment and won’t be obstructing anyone – again, it’s always an idea to seat children and young adults in tight spots or near doors, as they’re more flexible and energetic and don’t bat an eyelid at having to move around a bit to make way for people.
We hope that’s of some use for now! We’ll probably revisit this subject soon as it’s something that, while it’s very mundane and not necessarily the biggest of issues, can have a huge impact on how your reception goes down. If you’d like to read some more of our blogs, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date with all our news and goings-on!