Organising Your Table Plan
If there is one thing I have learnt from being a wedding planner it’s that table plans always change at the last minute. Whether it’s a guest who accepted your invitation late, a guest that has had to drop out at the last minute, or an unexpected guest has joined you without prior warning. Whatever the reason, it’s not unusual for the table plan to cause a multitude of last minute stresses and concerns.
However, just because finalising your table plan is a task that needs to be left until a few weeks before your big day (and that’s at the earliest), it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get organised sooner. In fact, I would suggest that all couples spend a little time on their table plan months before it needs to be finalised. It’s far easier to tweak rather than start from scratch, so putting things in place a little in advance will no doubt save you unnecessary stress as the count down to your wedding begins.
I know this is easier said than done, especially when a wedding planning to do list only seems to get longer. So to help you along the way I am sharing a collection helpful tips and useful information to set you on the right track.
Speak to you venue or marquee company
First things first, ask your venue, or marquee company to send you suitable seating plans based on your estimated guest numbers, remembering to tell them which style of dining table you are intending to use (round or trestle). You should also ask your venue if they require particular sized tables to be positioned in certain locations, (sometimes larger round tables will only fit in a particular area) and whether or not tables will need to be moved to make way for your evening band or DJ. This is particularly important if you have arranged for your band or DJ to set up early, or if they will be providing music throughout your wedding breakfast service.
You should also discuss your top table requirements with your venue, remembering to confirm that they can accommodate the number of guests you would like to be seated on your top table and whether or not you have the option of a round top table, or just the more traditional long top table.
Consider your guests needs
Take a look at your expected guest list and make a note of anyone who may be in a wheelchair, or have a pushchair for their children. Generally, I would suggest seating these guests as close to the washrooms/baby changing facilities as possible and near to the entrance/exit to save them from navigating their way through guests tables, which can be a tight squeeze if you are nearing your venues maximum capacity. You should also bare in mind that guests whose children have a pushchair will require space for this near to their table, being mindful that the pushchair can not block a fire exit or your caterers access to the kitchen or bar area.
If space is an issue it may be necessary for all or a number of your tables to be removed after dinner. If all of your tables will be moved consider placing your younger and able-bodied guests on the tables that your caterers will clear first, (check the service order with your caterers). If it is necessary to move only a small number of tables check with your venue/caterers which tables they will be moving and avoid seating your older guests on these tables.
Round or Trestle
The style & size of table you choose will determine the number of guests you can seat at each table, so it’s important that you have decided which tables you will be using before you begin to think about where to seat your guests.
As a general rule 6ft trestle tables can seat 3 guests either side with a guest at either end and 8ft trestle tables can seat 4 guests either side with a guest either end. Do bear in mind that you will probably be butting your trestle tables together in a row, so you will only be able to seat a guest either end of the row rather than at the end of each table and you should only do this if you are not blocking the areas previously mentioned above when I was discussing positioning pushchairs. You should also consider the depth of your trestle tables and opt for the slightly wider tables (3ft rather than the standard 2ft 6″) if you will be serving your guests food platters. This is to allow additional room for your guests food to be positioned in the centre of the tables alongside your florals and place settings.
Most venues or furniture hire companies offer 5ft, 5ft 6″& 6ft round tables. You should look at seating 6-8 guests on 5ft tables, 8-10 guests on 5ft 6″ tables and 10-12 guests on 6ft tables.
When allocating guests to tables please do remember that guests in wheelchairs may require slightly more room, due to a wheelchair being wider than a standard chair, so if possible try to seat the lesser number of guests on these tables rather than using the tables full capacity.
Communication is key
Communicating with your venue/marquee company and caterers will definitely be key to ensuring you finalise your guest plan with ease. Before you confirm or set your heart on anything discuss your ideas with each of them and remember they would have worked on multiple weddings over a number of years, so draw upon their ideas and suggestions and use their experience and expertise to make this task a little easier for you.
I do hope this blog post has helped you make a start with your seating plan, if however you would like to get in touch with me for further advice and wedding planning assistance then I would love to hear from you.
I am a wedding planner based in Essex who has a particular passion for marquee and dry hire venues. I design and co-ordinate weddings throughout Essex, Suffolk, Kent, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and further afield if required.
Image Credits: Terri & Lori Fine Art Photography & Film
Welcome to my Blog
With a keen eye for detail, organisational skills that are second to none and the love of a “to do” list it was inevitable that Hayley would become an events planner. She started her career within the legal profession and was a Personal Assistant for 14 years before training with the UKAWP to become a professional wedding and events planner and then going on to launch “Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events”.