Assigned seating are mandatory for individually served meals and they avoid confusion for waiting staffs. However, it is not necessary if meals are going to be served buffet or banquet style. In the latter, guests can be assigned to tables instead and are allowed to sit themselves freely within the table allocated. In the Asian culture, seating arrangements can be overwhelming as it needs to be delicately carried out in hopes to avoid offending anyone. Here is a step by step guide, complete with general rules on how to get started.
#01 Decide on the Table Arrangements.
Before you delve deep into assigning your guest their seats, decide on the table arrangements. What table shapes would you like; round or rectangular? Where will the tables be placed? How will the event flow within the room?
#02 Main Table
There are few options for main table seating. Traditionally, the bride and groom are seated with their parents, grandparents and immediate family members at the head table. It is not uncommon to see the Maid of Honour and Best Man seated at the main table as well. Alternatively, you can opt for a sweetheart table where it would just be you and your beau. Seating arrangement suggestions can be found on our floor plan and table arrangements guide.
#03 Consult your Parents
Traditionally, the parents, grandparents and immediate family members of the bride and groom are seated on the main table. If your family size is particularly large, ask your parents for their preference on who to prioritise in a round table setting. Alternatively opt for a long table which allows you flexibility to fit everyone. If there are complex family relationships, perhaps consider splitting the whole family equally between two tables closest to the main table and opt for a sweetheart main table instead.
#04 The Bridal Party
If the Best Man and Maid of Honour are not sitting at the main table, make sure they are seated close by so they can easily assist the bride and groom when necessary. Placing your closest friends near the main table and the dance floor is also great way to hype up the party.
#05 Emcees and Helpers
Emcees should not be too far away from the stage, especially if it’s a big ballroom. Instead, they should be seated at a table nearest to the stairs leading up to the stage. This table can also consist of friends who are helping out, therefore place them in a table close to the periphery so they can easily manoeuvre in and out of the party.
#06 Group Your Guests
To have a clear overview of how to place your guest, start by organising them into groups; family members, high school friends, college friends, colleagues etc. Thereafter put them in groups of ten (for round table arrangments). If the groups don’t add up to 10, split guests in the same category into two groups of four and six each then mix them up. Consider seating people with common interests together.
#07 Parents’ Friends
Chances are you may not know them that well, leave the seating arrangement of your parents’ friends to your parents. It’s also better to group your parents’ friends with other families than your friends.
#08 Aisle Tables
Seat your friends at the aisle tables as they would likely rile up the atmosphere during the newlyweds walk in. Reserve the round tables that have better legroom for the more matured guests. Also, avoid seating helpers at aisle tables to avoid half empty tables in your walk-in photos.
#09 Children’s Corner
Parents would appreciate if they are seated at the periphery as children can get restless and may need to get out of their high chairs and pace the room. Furthermore if a child throws a tantrum, parents can easily and discreetly bring their children out of the room without causing a scene. Avoid placing them near the caterer’s entrance to avoid mishaps during the serving of food and beverages. Alternatively, set up a children’s corner where they can be entertained with activities but keep them close to their parent’s tables so parents can keep their eye out on their kids.
#10 Co-ordinate with Your Banquet Manager
Pass a copy of your table arrangements – highlighted with special dietary requests and number of high chairs required – to your banquet manager on the day of your reception so they can set up everything before your guests arrive.
#11 Clear Charts To Avoid Confusion
For a large wedding dinner, position a 2D floor plan at the entrance complete with table numbering so your guests won’t have to wander the entire floor before finding their table. If individual set meals are going to be served, place cards will direct your guest to their seats once they have arrived at the table assigned. Assigning tables without specific seats are suitable for banquet or buffet style meals. Seating charts with guest names are only suitable for smaller weddings. Remember to pick a clear font to avoid confusion and for easy readability. Another way for your guest to easily navigate the seating chart, list your guest names alphabetically with their table numbers written at the end of it, as seen above.
#12 Unexpected Guests
Finally, make sure there are one or two extra tables in case people turn up unexpectedly. You probably won’t need to use them in the end, but at least your guests will have somewhere to sit while your coordinator sorts things out.