7 Seating Arrangement Mistakes You DON’T Want to Make

It was hard enough getting the invite list finalized, but now it’s time to tackle the dreaded task of the seating chart. Singles with couples? Family with friends? We’ve got a few ideas for how to strike the perfect balance at EVERY table, from your bridal shower to Thanksgiving to the big day.

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1. Skipping the chart. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many brides and grooms struggle with making the seating arrangements because they don’t take the time to start at the beginning. There are websites and apps that exist that can help create and organize a chart, but an old-school, non-digital way to figure out where everyone is going to sit is with Post-its! Get a few pieces of paper and label each with a table number. Write your guests’ names out on a Post-it, color-coding to how you know the person (work, college, mom’s friend, childhood camp). Then, arrange the Post-it’s on each piece of paper to build each table. This helps you visually see if one table is too sparsely filled and if you have a good mix of people.

2. Not considering the space. Before you pick up the seating chart, THINK. Grandma does NOT want to be next to the speakers and your boisterous cousin shouldn’t sit by your dad’s conservative golf buddies. It’s important to anticipate the needs that go beyond who is sitting at what table. Perhaps some guests need easier access to the restrooms or would prefer to be closer to the dance floor. If your venue has beautiful views, consider who should have prime access to those. Also, consider who you’d like to have close by on your big day. If you’re not having a Sweetheart Table, consider arranging things so your favorite family members and BFFs are sitting with you.

3. Leaving your guests to fend for themselves. Imagine showing up to a wedding and being seated with 8 to 9 other people you have never met. Could be an opportunity to meet someone amazing, but it could also cause you to regret RSVPing yes. Friends don’t let friends sit alone! Of course it will be almost impossible to seat all of your friends together or each member of your family at the same table, but ensure that no one feels uncomfortable by putting everyone with at least one familiar face. If one of your guests (say a new co-worker) won’t know anyone else at the party (and you actually want them to show up), do the right thing and give them a +1. Then try to build a table that will help get the conversation started.

4. Overlooking the kids. If you have a group of kids who are all around the same age, why force them to sit with their parents? Have a kids table! It’s more fun for them and less annoying for the adults. Put their table in a spot that’s a little bit removed from the rest of the party, but still close enough for mom or dad to keep an eye on them. Also remember that “kids” is not an all-encompassing category: your 13-year-old nephew would probably rather sit with your adult cousins than at a table full of toddlers.

5. Allowing for awkward small talk. Do you really want to leave the conversation to chance? Your college roommate probably has some good dirt on you…and it WILL come out if all else fails! Giving your table a theme based on your favorite locations, fond memories, or meaningful songs to you as a couple is a great way to break the ice. The people seated together at “Barcelona, Spain” will likely know that’s where you went to studied abroad and the stories will flow from there: travel, food, college, and more. Embarrassing stories will still probably come up, but it’s for a good cause: you’ll be helping your guests have a much better time.

6. Singling out the singles. While it might be easier to take all of your single friends, put them at one (or two) tables together, and hope for the best, this can make your unattached friends feel like an afterthought. Try to spread your single friends out among the couples, keeping in mind the “familiar face” rule. If all goes well, the eligible bachelors and single ladies will find each other out on the dance floor without feeling like they were forced.

7. Going it alone. While you may be tempted to take control of the situation, it’s easier to talk to a few close friends and family members for their opinions to help get you started. Your parents may prefer to sit with friends over family and your friends may have some insight into who’s getting along with whom these days. Take their suggestions into consideration and then figure out what you think would be best!

—By Kimberly Watson

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