10 Essential Tips for a Successful Table Plan

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There are lots of big decisions to make about a wedding and one of them is the table plan. You need to organise the tables so that everyone is comfortable, getting along and, generally, having as much fun as you’re having. Fear not, for it can be done. These 10 essential tips will make table planning for your wedding plain sailing:

1. Check the venue.

Before you start deciding who will sit where, how many people to have per table etc., take another look around the venue. Check the capacity and layout. See the type of tables they use — long or round? — and how many people they recommend to a table. This is a decisive step and will determine the whole table plan, so don’t skip it or make assumptions.

2. Plan early.

Organising your table plan takes longer than you’d expect, so make an early start on planning the table and seating arrangements. You may need to adjust one or two things a little closer to the day, but you should establish a solid table plan well in advance to give yourself, the venue and the service providers time to get everything ready.

3. Start with the top table.

Obviously, this is the main table and the traditional arrangement is of bride and groom, the parents of both, the best man and the chief bridesmaid; however, you may want to have your children with you at the table, or parents may have separated and can’t sit together. Ask the venue how many you can have on your top table and if things are going to get complicated, set up a table for just the two of you.

4. Keep groups together.

Sit people together who are already part of a group i.e. family, work colleagues, sports club colleagues, etc. If the circumstances oblige you to split up an established group, make sure that everyone at the table will know at least one other guest who is sitting there. Remember not to split couples up when deciding your table plan.

5. Have a children’s table.

If any children under three years are attending the wedding, they should sit with their parents. Otherwise, set up a children’s table for kids who are older than this. You might want to organise some extra activities and have someone oversee the table.

6. Be creative with your tables.

You could just number your tables, but that can be boring. Get creative and give your tables a name or title that means something to you both. It could be a film or song title, or the name of a city or country, or even a significant date. You’ll also avoid ‘hierarchy tension’ between the more competitive guests by doing this.

7. Avoid setting up a ‘singles table’.

The temptation is always there at weddings to play matchmaker. Resist that urge. Instead, seat single guests with their friends, with family, with people who share the same interests or where they’ll feel most comfortable. You can even ask them where they’d like to sit if you’re not sure.

8. Have a wedding planner or organiser at hand.

Ensure that your wedding planner is there on the day to coordinate things so that there are no hiccups with the seating and table arrangements. If you haven’t hired a wedding planner, designate someone as an organiser, such as a bridesmaid or an usher, to help people find their table.

9. Consider access.

Think about who could need more space at the table or who might need quicker, easier access to the bathroom. This may include disabled guests, elderly guests or people who have children.

10. Design your table plan.

Once you’ve agreed where everyone is sitting, it’s time for the fun part: designing the table plan itself. This should stand just outside the wedding reception area. The plan should be straightforward, legible, and help guests to find their tables without any problems. It should also fit in with the overall theme of the wedding.

Remember in all this to be flexible. Be prepared, as the day approaches, for someone to bow out at the last minute. Have a designated person to deal with such situations, so that you can get on with the more fun side of the preparations and, ultimately, have a wonderful wedding.