The Basics

Sorting the table plan.

If you thought compiling the Guest List was a minefield, just wait until you get to the Table Plan.

The first step is to start grouping guests according to the way you know them: family members, school friends, college friends, work friends, and so on. This doesn’t mean you have to sit them according to that group, but a picture will soon start to form of who already knows/likes/loathes who.

You can also consider your guests’ age, interests, and backgrounds. Try to make everyone feel comfortable by offering a mix of familiar and new faces at each table, but be tactful – avoid seating people together who have a history they wish they could forget, especially if they happen to be exes. We’ve all seen Four Weddings and a Funeral, yes?

Allocate a table host for each one. They might not need to do anything, but it’s handy to have a friendly extrovert in charge, even if it’s just a case of keeping everyone’s wine glasses topped up.

It’s generally a good idea to mix up your two families, as this gives them a chance to really get to know each other; but don’t be afraid to mix in a few close friends too. When it comes to extended family and older family friends, invite your parents to advise on who would be happy sitting with who.

Ask the venue for advice on selecting the best table shape and layout to suit the room. Try to arrange it so that people can speak to other people, not just their immediate neighbours. Round tables tend to be more sociable, and allow people more legroom; longer tables can accommodate more people but tend to have less room, and also means that guests are stuck with their immediate neighbours. Make sure all the tables have a good view of the top table, and the people making the speeches.

It’s tempting to lump all your single guests together on one table, but there’s no way of doing this without making them feel stigmatised. At the same time, no single person wants to be stuck on a table full of smug marrieds! Use your judgement, and try to be sensitive to everyone’s needs. Oh, and if you do have the overwhelming urge to play matchmaker, introduce the candidates as subtly as possible. When you receive their wedding invitation two years later, then and only then can you take all the credit.

Children can have a lot of fun if they’re seated together at their own table, especially if you’ve provided activities and/or crafts to keep them occupied. They may end up getting glue on their new wedding outfits, but most parents would agree that this is a fair price to pay for having a few hours of child-free time to themselves.

Try to resist the overwhelming temptation to stick tiny children in some far-off corner. Not only will they get anxious if they can’t see their parents, but nobody will notice if they start to eat the crayons. One solution is a discrete play area supervised by an entertainer or childminder (at a push, you could probably bribe a responsible teenager). Finally, if your flower girl and ring bearer are the only children present, just seat them with their parents.

Your GettingMarried Table Planner will make all of this very easy indeed. Once the Guest List has updated itself with all of the RSVPs you’ll be able to create and name tables of any shape and size. Then you simply drag guests from the Interactive Guest List and drop them onto the Table Plan. Not literally of course!

Find out more about the Table Planner.