One of the last part of finalizing an event is to put together the reception seating for guests. It can be a tad stressful to have to create the perfect placements with the limited time between when RSVPs are returned and when the event takes place, but with strategic planning and a solid understanding of what to do, it can be a much easier task than expected.
It’s important to understand that reception seating has two parts: figuring out where to seat all your guests and then telling them where to sit. In other words, diagraming your tables and creating either escort cards or an escort board. Some events may even require a place card which will tell guests their specific seat at a table and also communicate with the server their meal choice. They are required for events offering a choice-of entrée, but otherwise are at the discretion of the host. Escort boards or cards, however, are required for seated events like a wedding reception or corporate gala. To make your planning easier, consider these tips:
DO: Start early. Tables can be assigned before RSVPs are returned. It’s easier to remove people than to scramble at the last minute creating a new plan from scratch. As your guest list is created, begin grouping guests into the table groups you would most prefer. This will simplify seating later on once RSVPs are returned.
DO: Assign tables. Every guest should have a table assignment on either an escort card or be listed on an escort board.
DO: Arrange escort cards or the escort board alphabetically by last name for guests to more easily find their table. If they have to search by table number, they will be spending a longer time figuring out where they are supposed to be and this will delay both seating your guests and serving your meal.
DON’T: Use ‘Reserved’ signs. Simply reserving an entire table is not clear enough to indicate who should be sitting there.
DO: Use your event’s floor plan to have an idea of which guests will be situated in various parts of the room. For example: the parents of the bride may be sat at table one, but per the diagram that table may be by the venue entrance and not near the head table.
DO: Keep your family tables close to the head tables and dancing floor.
DON’T: Seat too many guests at a table. Talk to your event specialist for the maximum number of guests that can be sat at one table. Things like chargers and the type of chair can make an impact on how comfortably your guests will be seated.