Seating Plans – The pros and cons of different types

So you’ve completed the hardest task in wedding planning – figuring out where everyone is going to sit – and now you need to determine how you communicate this seating plan to your guests.

There’s a few different options available, and lucky for us, Amanda from Be My Guest is going to share a few of the pros and cons of each option.

Here are some popular ways to demonstrate your seating plan, and each of their pros and cons:

A seating map

A seating map is a diagram that out where each guest sits.

  • Perfect for small weddings
  • Works well for wedding receptions that only have a few tables (such as a u-shape, like the above picture, or long trestle tables)
  • If someone pulls out after the seating plan has been completed, it can mean having to shuffle people around – which will mean the seating plan is wrong and it could be confusing
  • Can be hard for guests to understand

A seating plan grouped by table

This is the most common type of seating plan that I do for couples. You list the people sitting at each table under the heading for that table, then indicate on each table what it’s called.

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  • It’s common because it’s effective
  • Best choice for midsize weddings
  • You can choose to list guests by their first name only, their first name and last initial for duplicates, or by their full name
  • If you’re having a large wedding, you may get a log jam of guests scanning through the seating plan, looking for their name

A seating plan sorted by name, alphabetically

  • As a stationery designer, I’ve never actually done one of these – sooooo they’re not particularly common. That’s probably because most weddings in New Zealand are not overly large (even some of the ones we’d consider “large” are small/midsize by other culture’s standards)
  • These are perfect for a large wedding (say 200+ guests) as your wedding guests simply scan the board for their initial, find their name, then refer to the table number next to their name. So less chance of congestion around the seating chart
  • Less flexibility with table names – you need to keep them short so that they can fit on the design!
  • You can choose to sort by your guest’s first initial, or their last initial

Escort cards

Escort cards are a less formal version of placenames. Each guest receive an escort card, which is personalised with their name and the table number they’re sitting at.

  • There are lots of fun ideas out there for escort cards – you can even have them double as wedding favours
  • A table of escort cards will require a bit of extra space and need extra set up
  • You’ll need clear signage to make it clear to your wedding guests what to do (even something simple like the photo below).  Escort cards are not in common usage in New Zealand
  • Make sure there’s lots of room around the table, so you don’t have congestion (i.e. don’t put them near the queue for the drinks!)

Placecards/place names

Placecards (also known as placenames) are placed at each individual seat, marking the exact seat where a wedding guest is supposed to sit.

  • They can be used in conjunction with a seating chart. So your guest will refer to the seating chart to discover they’re sitting at table 5, then when they find table 5, they’ll circle the table to find their placecard
  • They can be used on their own instead of a seating plan
  • When using them in conjunction with a seating plan, it can get expensive
  • When using them instead of a seating plan, be aware that this means every one of your wedding guests will need to go to each table and look for their name – this can be time consuming

So there you have it, 5 different types of seating plans, and the pros and cons of each. Do you have any other positives or negatives for these different types to share? I’d love to hear it – pop your thoughts in the comments below.

One thought on “Seating Plans – The pros and cons of different types

  1. My name is Alexis and I am a brides maid in a friends wedding next October 2021. I have just been looking for insights because wedding planning and things to Remember for them is so much more than I ever even thought of or considered to budget in. So thank you so much for this help!

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