I know the thought of your wedding seating chart is not the most fun or exciting part of wedding planning, but it doesn’t have to be torture either. There are so many scenes in TV shows and movies where the couple starts a huge fight over their seating plan. That inner bridezilla makes a surprise appearance and everything goes haywire. But that doesn’t have to be you!
Although you definitely need a seating plan for your wedding reception, you don’t have to drive yourself crazy making it. Once you understand the basic logistics, you can start to get creative with your escort cards and even have some fun!
Since you’re having a destination wedding, you’ll have fewer guests than a traditional wedding, and the seating plan will be easier already. I mean, just imagine arranging the seating plan for a 300-guest wedding. (Sounds dreadful, right?) But now, 40 guests doesn’t seem so bad, right?
So let’s start with a few basic rules.
Rules When Making Your Wedding Seating Chart
- Start early. You don’t want to leave this to the last minute. (And especially not until the night before the wedding.) You’ll have way more important things to do. So try to get your seating plan done early. I’d say as soon as you have a final guest count and your table sizes, you can get started. It may take you a few tries to get it just right. So be patient with yourself. And don’t worry, you can always make last-minute changes if you need to.
- Avoid the drama. Every family has drama. There’s no shame in it. That’s just the way it is. But keep this in mind when planning your seating arrangements. If there’s a divorced couple that can hardly stand to be in the same room together, don’t put them at the same table. If your two cousins get in a fistfight every time they talk, sit them across the room from each other. (Or don’t invite them at all -if possible- because really, who needs that kind of energy on their wedding day?)
- Don’t try to make everyone happy. You’ll just drive yourself crazy. And at the end of the day, it’s not worth it. Of course, you want your guests to have a good time, but you can only do so much. Try your best to ensure there are no “bad tables” in your wedding seating plan and your guests can deal for the short time they’ll be sitting down.
Now that you know the basics, you can start planning! But what about couples that don’t want to have a seating plan? Is it even really necessary?
Do You Need a Seating Chart at Your Wedding?
There are a lot of reasons why you may not want to have a seating plan for your guests. A seating chart may sound too formal for a beach wedding. Maybe you’re the laidback couple that wants to give their guests a ton of freedom and let them choose their own seat. Or maybe you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of making a seating arrangement. It’s a time-consuming process, and it can be stressful if you let it be.
But in my opinion, a seating plan is absolutely necessary to ensure a seamless wedding reception.
I’ve been to a lot of weddings where the couple thinks they’re making it easier on guests or that they’re “more fun” if they don’t have a seating chart, but it actually has the opposite effect. Guests start to worry about where to sit. They’ll all rush to one table, trying to sit together. And when they don’t all fit, they’ll wander off one by one to whatever seat is left. The tables are random. Guests have less to talk about during their meal so it starts to get awkward. And there’s always that one friend (who was probably in the bathroom or at the bar) who gets sent to a table where they don’t know anyone at all. Talk about uncomfortable…
So avoid that whole commotion. Give your guests a little bit of structure. If you want to keep it casual, use escort cards to assign tables. If you want to be in total control, use escort cards and place cards to assign exact seats. Not sure the difference between escort cards and place cards? Then keep reading.
What are Escort Cards?
Escort cards are those little cards at the entrance of the reception that have the name and table number of each guest that attends your wedding. An escort card will tell your guests which table to sit at but not their exact seat at that table. This gives your guests the freedom to decide where they’ll be sitting during the reception, with the structure of assigning them a table with guests that they enjoy.
You can have actual cards, or you can have a large board or frame with all of your guests’ names and their tables numbers listed. This is becoming the more popular way to show your guests to their seats. And this is where you really get to show off your creative side. Have some fun with it! And make it a Pinterest-worthy piece of your wedding decor.
Escort cards are perfect for beach weddings as they’re a more informal way to show the seating arrangement compared to place cards. So what exactly are these place cards I keep talking about?
What are Place Cards?
While escort cards will tell your guests which table they’ll be sitting at, place cards will show their exact seat at the table. Place cards will be set on each plate at the table (or in front of the plate), while escort cards will only be printed at the entrance to the reception venue.
To put it simply, escort cards will get your guests to their table, while place cards will get them to their exact seats.
If you’re having a more formal reception, place cards are more appropriate. You should have an escort card display at the entrance to your reception that shows which table each guest should head to. And then once they get to the table, they can find their exact seat. This will save time and will keep your guests from wandering all around the venue searching for their name. If you want to maintain total control with your wedding seating chart, and want things to flow smoothly at your reception, then this is the way to go.
Tips for Creating Your Wedding Seating Chart
Whether you decide to use escort cards or place cards, you’ll want to create a seamless and enjoyable experience for your guests at the wedding reception. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll want to start planning your wedding seating chart early and try to avoid any drama between your guests. And remember, you can’t make everyone happy. But you certainly can try. So how do you do that?
Sit your family together, rather than with strangers
They will be happier sitting with people they know, especially if they live in different cities and haven’t seen each other in a while. They’ll enjoy the time to catch up!
If you and your fiance’s families are close, you can sit them at the same table. If they haven’t met before, then you have to make that judgment call. Will they be more comfortable at their own tables? Or would they both prefer to use that time to get to know each other? Each family is different. So do what feels right for yours. And don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Try to keep friend groups together
Friends want to sit together. Simple as that. But… if you have a large group of friends, you may need to split them up. In that case, try to split them evenly. For example, let’s say you have a group of 12 friends, and your tables seat 10 people. Instead of splitting the group with 10 at one table and 2 at another, split them 6 and 6. Then fill the tables with people you think would get along or who have similar interests. That’s a great way for guests to meet each other and start great conversations. And that way no one feels left out.
Skip the singles table
Speaking of feeling left out… Avoid the temptation of a singles table. I know you’re trying to be a matchmaker and set up your single friends, but most people don’t enjoy being separated based on their relationship status. Instead, seat them with people they know or who you think they’ll get along with. And if there is a connection with any of your single guests, let that happen naturally.
Keep the reception flowing smoothly
Ideally, your guests should spend less than 90 minutes at their tables. They should have dinner and hear some heartfelt speeches during that time, and then they should head to the dance floor. They should not be sitting at their tables all night long. The goal is to keep things moving. And to get your guests to the party!
Having your wedding reception on the beach? Here are a few tips to make it flawless.
How to Display Your Escort Cards
Now let’s get to the fun part! Where you get to incorporate your personality and get creative. That’s right! I’m talking about displaying your escort cards. Escort cards are usually at the entrance to the reception, and they’re a great way to incorporate your overall wedding theme.
Often times, brides don’t put much thought into this and just print out the names on a big poster board. But you can get way more creative and really wow your guests! Make it fun! And make it beautiful!
Set up a table with different layers and using different elements from your decor. Or display your escort cards vertically on a gorgeous frame. The more effort you put in, the more impressive your display will be. A custom display may cost a little extra, but it looks so much nicer and works to tie all of your wedding decor together. Plus, your guests will love it!
Need some ideas? Check out these options below:
Use Lots of Flowers
Who doesn’t love flowers?! They’re gorgeous! They bring life to a space. And they make everything look bigger, brighter, and more beautiful. Hang flowers all around your escort card display. Whether you’re using a sign, an easel, or a table, flowers will take your display from ordinary to extraordinary.
Use Your Wedding Favors
You know the old saying, “Kill two birds with one stone”? Well, that’s the basic idea here. Use your wedding favors as the escort cards to your wedding. You can DIY if you’re really creative, or order them online from Etsy to save yourself time. And you can always talk to your wedding planner in Punta Cana! They have amazing ideas and can usually take care of everything for you.
Magnets, luggage tags, sunglasses, or little bottles of rum make great wedding favors and escort cards. A 2-for-1 deal! Just make sure to Choose Destination Wedding Favors Your Guests Actually Want.
Get the Party Started
Why not serve your guests a drink before they head to their seats? It’s the perfect way to get the party started. And to send a vibe of “anything goes.” Shot glasses or champagne flutes are great options here! A green floral wall looks fabulous lined with champagne flutes. Add in stir sticks with each guest’s name and table number so they can easily find their seats. Another option if you want a less boozy approach: fresh coconuts etched with each guest’s name and table number. How cool would that be?
Incorporate Your Wedding Theme
Tie your wedding decor together with an escort card display that matches your theme. If you’re having a tropical wedding, incorporate lots of bright colors and palm leaves into your display. If you’re having a more formal event, a gold or silver-framed mirror can create an elegant backdrop for your escort cards. For more wedding decor ideas, check out The Ultimate Guide to Destination Wedding Decor.
If you have more than 75 guests, arrange the names on your escort display alphabetically instead of by table number. This will make it faster and easier for guests to find their names and head to their seats. Remember, it’s all about creating a seamless experience for your guests.
Final Thoughts About Your Wedding Seating Chart
Hopefully, you’ve found a few tips on how to arrange your wedding seating plan, and you’ve started to think of a fun, beautiful way to display the escort cards at your reception. All you need is a little inspiration. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your personality. And use your wedding decor as a starting point to keep everything flowing smoothly.
This process should be fun! And all completely stress-free. You’re arranging your wedding day and you can really start to get an idea of how things will look at your reception. You can decide where each of your guests is sitting, or send them to tables and let them decide from there. Either way, you’re one step closer to your special day!
Ready to start planning your wedding in Punta Cana? Get in contact with us today!