Planning a wedding at times can be tricky, especially when it comes to table plans. But don't worry, help is at hand. Here are my 5 top tips on how to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible, plus, it'll save you some hours. These tips are mainly for weddings but can be applied to just about any occasion. Let's get to it.
Tip 1 - Allow minimal input from others
Don't fall into the trap of letting everyone see your table plan, that includes your bridal party and parents. It's hard enough trying to decide between you and partner where to seat your nearest and dearest but when you involve others, you end up with a whole host of combinations and opinions, and it is simply impossible to please everyone.
Instead, you and your partner make a draft and then edit from there (steps on how to start that below).
Tip 2 - Don't worry about your guests not getting along, they're adults
The more you worry about your guests being happy where they're sat, the harder you make the table plan for yourself. Take that stress out by ignoring what they'll think and go on what you think is best. After all, if you let everyone sit where they want you'd have a table of 40 and a table of 2 somewhere, which just doesn't work.
At the end of the day they only have to follow the seating plan for the meal and reception, a couple of hours max, when it comes to the evening do they can sit where they please. Most of us would hope adults can manage that, plus, they can meet someone new. Who knows, they might be best friends a year from now!
Tip 3 - Mix the families
How often are you and your partner's families going to meet? This is a good chance for them to get to know each other really well and one of the only chances to get the families mingling. Instead of separating the tables so one half of the room is one family, try integrating them together. To do this, split the table in half and try to fill in families, couples or singles that have similar traits or personalities, if you're unsure, try going for similar age groups. This will get kids playing together, couples meeting new people and means there's no divide in the room.
Sometimes when there's a divide this can cause a tension and if people sat together know each other well but aren't best friends, there can be silences. If you're unsure that people will get talking, you can always put an ice breaker on the table like a how well do you know the couple quiz, a game or activity, but most of the time people make their own conversations and it works really well.
Tip 4 - Try not to make guests feel they're placed at the back
Sometimes at weddings it's easy to add those not so close family/friends to the back of the room, but they will feel slightly segregated. The best way to avoid this is to shape the tables in the room in a horseshoe where possible, or if not, label the tables differently to avoid for example table 8/8 being at the back of the room. This will make it seem as though all tables are of equal value to the couple and are indeed part of the day.
This decision, although most say full names, is entirely up to you and your preference. If you're not sure whether you want to include guests full names or just first, then there are a few things to consider.
If you're a traditionalist, you'll probably like the full names choice, this is traditionally how they would be written on wedding stationery, just first and last names will do, finding out everyone's middle names would be very complex.
If however you want more of a modern or informal do, then absolutely opt for first names for a more friendly vibe. One thing to consider is that if you have two guests with the same first name, you may need to add a last name initial so they know who you're referring to, i.e. Lee R, Stephanie H, etc.
You could go one step further if you like a really relaxed and laid back wedding, and have nicknames or the names they go by, i.e. Bazza, Hales, Beks and so on.
So, now you have my top tips, you're ready to start putting your plan together, provided you've already got your guest list of who is confirmed for your day, this shouldn't take hours and hours, try not to mess with it too much otherwise it gets overcomplicated. Have fun planning!
Starting your table plan:
Step 1 - decide if you're mixing families on tables or if you're keeping them separate, if mixing them then start with half the table as your half of the family and the other half as your partners, this gives a good average, there will be some tables where this isn't possible i.e. where there's a family of 3 or 5 etc but you can usually mix a family of 5 with a family of 3 to make an 8 for example.
Also part of step 1, you need to know how many you're having per table, you may end up with some larger than others.
Step 2 - Make sure you've noted which are families and who needs to be kept together (you don't want to split children from parents, unless there's a specific kids table, and carers from the elderly, or split couples etc).