The guest list and seating arrangements are arguably the most frustrating parts of wedding planning, right?! Trying to decide where everyone sits and having to arrange the tables and everything – it can get overwhelming! Here are some questions about seating your guests that we get a lot, and our answers!
We would highly recommend telling your guests at least what table to sit at. This will help with the flow of your wedding, save time getting them seated, and will eliminate any awkward situations. For example, what if there’s not enough seating for a couple or family at a table?! A big yikes! Telling your guests where to sit actually helps them out.
You do not need to tell them which seat to sit in unless you have a plated meal. If you have a plated meal (where there is a meal choice and the servers place the meal in front of guests), then you will need some sort of meal indicator. We’ll get to this in more detail below!
What is a seating chart?
Seating charts are a display for guests to see what table they are listed at. They are usually listed alphabetically or by table.
Do I need a seating chart?
You will need some sort of display to tell your guests where to sit, so this will either be a seating chart or escort cards. You’ll see below that escort cards have the same purpose – to tell them which table to go to – so you’ll need one or the other.
What’s better – listing alphabetically or by table?
We recommend alphabetically if you have over 150 guests. This is mostly because it is so much easier for guests to find their name in alphabetical order. Plus, it usually looks better design-wise because there’s a nice mix of letters that can be spaced out across the chart.
With a small guest count, alphabetical seating charts can look a little awkward design-wise. Sometimes couples have special table names instead of standard numbers, like places they’ve visited or bands they’ve seen together. Doing this would make it so that your seating chart needed to be listed by table name, because you wouldn’t be able to fit “Yosemite” cleanly after 8 peoples’ names.
What are escort cards?
Just like seating charts, the purpose of escort cards is to tell your guests what table to go to. They can be on a larger display and on all sorts of different materials, but instead of one big display, they are individual items for each guest.
See below for some examples of escort cards – you can also do sea glass, sand dollars, agate slices, marble tiles, leaves, sea salt shot glasses… options are endless!
If I have a plated meal, but don’t want to tell them where to sit, can I use escort cards for that?
Yes, but to my knowledge, this can complicate the meal indicators because some guests will put the escort cards away in their purses or jackets. If your escort cards are also your meal indicators, just make sure you have your DJ or planner make an announcement to have guests have those out so the servers can see them to distinguish the meals. If you have a full-service wedding planner, chat with them about what will be best for your wedding!
What are place cards?
Once the guest finds their table from either the escort cards or seating chart, they head over to that table. There, they’ll find the place card with their name so they know which specific seat to sit in.
Do I need place cards?
As mentioned above, you’ll need a place card with a meal indicator if you’re having a plated meal. If you’re not having a plated meal (buffet, stations, or family style), you can still have place cards if you’d like. That’s just a personal preference!
Explain this again – why do I need meal indicators?
If you are giving your guests an option for a meal and having them fill out their reply card with their preference, the catering staff will need to know who ordered what at the table. We usually do a meal indicator for this on a place card so they have a symbol or something that tells them who at that table has what dish. Options for meal indicators can be different colored wax seals, little dots, or something that’s easy for them to identify.
We typically recommend the most popular option to be blank, and then the next popular option to have one small dot, the next have two dots, and a “V” for veg, and/or “K” for kids. To add some color to the place setting, we will also do different colored materials, like the sea glass pictured below, or a stroke of paint.
What if I have a duet course?
If you have a duet course where the guests don’t choose a meal but all get the same thing, you’ll still most likely have guests that are vegetarian or who have allergies. If you’re doing this, you’ll want somewhere on your reply card for them to write in any dietary restrictions.
For those guests, you’ll need some sort of marker for them if you want it to be more discreet, otherwise you can just communicate those few accommodations to your catering staff. Again, a full-service planner will help you make these decisions!
Check out our Day-Of Details page for more inspiration and information!
We hope this answered all of your questions, but if it didn’t, comment below or email us! We would love to chat with you and clear things up!