If you're having 50 guests at a Barbeque Buffet, you may or may not want to give people a seat assignment. But if you're having more than 70 guests, and serving a meal, you'll want to make sure everyone's got a precise place to sit. Why? For one, people like to know where they're sitting—and that you took the time to choose where they should sit—and with whom. It's also primordial if you're serving several different entrée choices, because the chef and the waiters can figure out beforehand how many chicken, filet and veggie dishes a given table gets, because they know who's sitting there.
Don't Wait Until The Last Minute
We've stayed up til the wee hours of the night before the wedding (or even wedding morning) with a couple just starting their seating plan. Don't let this happen—you've got much more important things to think about at that point! Sure, it's fine to make last-minute changes, but try to get the chart done at least a week before the day.
Create aspreadsheet. Insert a column into your guest list document categorizing all the invitees by relationship: your friends, your family, your partner's friend, your partner's family, your family friends, your partner's family friends and so on. This way, you'll be able to easily sort the list and break it down into more logical table assortments. Now you'll need to separate these lists into distinct tables.
The Head Table
A traditional head table is not round but long and straight, facing all the other reception tables. Usually the bride and groom sit smack-dab in the middle (where everyone can see them), with the maid of honor next to the groom, the best man next to the bride, and then boy/girl out from there. Flower girls and ring bearers usually sit at the tables where their parents are sitting.
Traditionally, your parents and your fiancé's parents sit at the same table, along with grandparents, siblings not in the wedding party, and the officiant and his/her spouse if they are attending the reception. But if your or your partner's parents are divorced and are uncomfortable about sitting next to each other, you might want to let each set of parents host their own table of close family and/or friends . This could mean up to four parents' tables. Remember, the parent-seating question is a flexible one. Set it up in whatever way best suits everybody.
There may also be situations in which certain family members just do not get along. Maybe they haven't spoken in years. Understandably, you want to keep them as far apart as possible. Think about these kinds of relationships before you even start making your chart, so you can take them into consideration in the first place and begin by seating Aunt Maddie at table three and Aunt Nancy across the room at table 15.
Obviously, all your university friends will be excited to sit at a table together. It gives them all an opportunity to catch up with each other, and get up to old shenanigans. But again—reception tables offer a fun opportunity to stir the pot and mix your friends and your partner's—who knows maybe someone will hit it off? Consider seating friends who don't know each other, but who you think will get along , at the same table—and the rest is history.