You have your guest list done and are hitting the limit with the number of guests you can invite due to the size of your venue. If your single friends decide to bring their date of the week, you’ll have to seat some guests in the bar or hallway if you’re not careful. So how can you ensure that they know not to bring a date “just because”? Or how do you ensure that those with kids get the hint you’re hoping for an adult only wedding?
Traditionally RSVP cards had just a line for guests to write their name in and not much else. Today RSVP cards can be a source of information for the guests and the couple inviting them.
Consider having your stationer make different RSVP cards that specify how many “seats” have been reserved for each invitee. This gives the guests no choice but to respect your wishes. “We have reserved 1 seat in your honour” clearly spells out – please don’t bring a date! Or “We have reserved 2 seats in your honour” = please leave the kiddos at home.
*image found on etsy.com
This is also a chance to ask guests what they’d like to eat for dinner, if they have any allergies or food intolerances you should notify the kitchen about and maybe even what song they’d like to hear during the dance. You can also have some real fun and make it into a Mad Lib card and save them in your guestbook.
*Image from kristenloves.com
Don’t forget to include an RSVP by date, your wedding website if you want guests to RSVP online, and postage on the envelopes if you would like guests to RSVP via snail mail.
So all your RSVPs are back (well almost!) and now it’s time to do the second most daunting tasking on your wedding planning list — the seating plan! (what’s the first most daunting item you ask? Coming up with the initial guest list of course!)
Once you THINK you have it all figured out now it’s time to decide if you need or should have place cards, a seating chart, or BOTH! Here are some reasons why you should have place cards vs just a seating chart:
1. Meal options – if you’re having a sit down plated dinner then chances are you’ve asked your guests on their RSVP cards what they’d like to have for dinner. Besides telling the kitchen that table two has three chicken, 4 beef , and one vegetarian with a gluten allergy in advance, you’ll also want a way for the wait staff to know where to deliver those plates to at that table. Place cards can be colour coded or decorated to tell them just that. Writing in colour one indicates beef, writing in colour 2 indicates chicken and so on and so forth. You can also add coloured gems or stickers to the cards to not only indicate what that guest is eating but embellish the place cards.
2. Family issues – if you need mom and dad to sit at the same table, but they’re separated and can’t be seating next to one another, having place cards at the table tell guests where to sit so you’re not left with an uncomfortable situation.
3. Placement at the table – make sure mom doesn’t end up with her back to the head table and podium by making sure her place card is placed at the most desirable seat at the table. Mom will love that you thought of that!
Seating charts are still a useful tool to direct guests to their table and once they are there they can find their seat. If you have none of the above to think about then a seating chart is a good option. Guests can sit where ever they’d like at the table and play musical chairs should they choose. If you have place cards you can choose to have them on the table and use a seating chart to direct guests to their tables, or have the place cards laid out at the entrance of your venue in alphabetical order for guests to find. They’ll have to have a table number on them in addition to their name.
Instead of a place card you could also attach a sticker or tag to a favour with all that information too!
Want to have some fun and make sure all your guests get to know one another? Have a second place card under the first one and have the MC announce this after the main course is cleared. Then during dessert guests have to change seats and get to know their new neighbour!
So now that you’ve determined the layout of your head table – (see our previous post here) now it’s time to do something special to it! I love to make the head table extra special, especially if it’s a focal point in the front of the room.
1. Spruce it up with some decorative linen – make the head table extra special by using a luxurious linen on it. Forgo the polyester table skirting and use a satin or other fabric full length linen on the table.
2. Charger plates – not using charger plates on all your guest tables because of the budget? Then use them just on your head table and make your place settings stand out. Wrap satin napkins around them and add special touches like fresh flowers, personalized menus or thank you’s to your bridal party.
3. Sitting Pretty – love the look of chiavari chairs, ghost chairs or chameleon chairs but can’t afford to do all the chairs in the venue? Again, make your head table stand out and give you and your bridal party a special seat in the house.
4. Backdrop – highlight your head table with a backdrop and some lighting. This will showcase your head table and make all those photos that will be taken of you and your bridal party much more spectacular.
5. Statement pieces – if you had large floral arrangements made up for your ceremony, make sure to bring those with you to the reception venue and use them on either side of your head table.
Get creative and have some fun with your head table! It’s the most important table at your reception and you should make a point of dressing it up!
When working on your floor plan for the wedding reception think outside the box when it comes to the placement and orientation of your head table. Traditionally the head table goes in front of the room, usually on a riser in a long straight line. The bride and groom sit in the middle with the bridesmaids next to the bride and the groomsmen next to the bride. In some cultures, the parents may also sit up a the head table.
Here are a few other ideas for your head table:
1. A sweetheart table – this removes the bridal party all together from centre stage and they can then sit with their significant others and families. The bride and groom have a very special table for two at the front of the room.
2. Kings Head Table – in this orientation you can have the bride and groom sitting at the head of the table with the bridal party sitting across from each other. This allows better conversation flow and it’s easier for the entire bridal party to see the bride and groom. Depending on how you position the tables you can also leave a pathway between the tables so that guests can still come up and chat with the bride and groom.
3. No Head Table – Seat the bride and groom at a table towards the front and centre of the room but at a round guest table. You could have the bridal party join you or sit with your parents and siblings at a table like this. This is ideal for couples who don’t want to be front and centre stage all day or on “display”.
4. Something a little different – create a completely different table by aligning your tables like a “t” in the middle or front of the room. This works only if you have ample room in your venue.
How are you setting up your head table?
* All photos found on Pintrest.com*
Over the years I’ve met many brides who have told me “Sonia, I don’t need a wedding planner, my hotel has assigned someone to me that will take care of everything”. While part of that is true, here are the differences between what they will do versus what a Wedding Planner or Day of Wedding Coordinator will look after for you.
The hotel representative (or the person helping you at any venue for that matter) helping you with your wedding will guide you through your reception. They’ll take care of the floor plan of your reception, selecting the food, wine and beverages for your wedding and coordinating how their staff will work with you and your guests on the night of your event. Some will even have their staff take care of putting out your guest favors and such.
Here’s what a Wedding Planner or Day of Coordinator will do for you:
Create a schedule for your entire day, this includes hair and make up times, ceremony times, who is arriving when, what vendors are responsible for what and where they need to be and at what time. This schedule also includes timing of speeches, meals, cake cutting, first dance and anything else going on during your reception. This schedule is then shared with all the people working to make your wedding day that unforgettable occasion you’re dreaming of.
On the day of your wedding if your florist is late, or your DJ is stuck in traffic, your Wedding Planner will be checking in with them to find out what is going on and what they can do to ensure nothing goes wrong. They are the point of contact for the day, so you, your mom, your mother in law, all your friends and family, and even your fiance and the groomsmen, get to relax and enjoy the day. Your hotel wedding “planner” isn’t as concerned with these items as a Wedding Planner will be for you. We know the ins and outs of your wedding day – we’ve either helped you book all these vendors, or have reviewed all your contracts and know what you’re expecting.
We’ll ensure your ceremony decor is set up to your specifications, that it all gets torn down and moved to the reception if you’re reusing items such as flowers. We’ll ensure the boutonnieres and corsages are distributed and pinned securely and that your gorgeous gown is “fluffed” just before that magical walk down the aisle and help to gather family members for photos.
We’ll then ensure all the hard work that’s gone into creating your wedding reception unforgettable, is executed for you. We’re there with you during all the big moments, and little moments at your reception. Working with the venue staff to make sure that the food comes out on time, and that any delays are passed along to the kitchen. Working closely with your MC, we’ll get all those speeches done and move all your guests to the fun part of the night – dancing the night away and celebrating with you and your new husband (or wife!).