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Seating your bridal party may be no problem — but assigning Crazy Aunt Sally or your freshly single second cousin can call for several face-to-palm moments of frustration. "Creating the seating chart can be just as hard as deciding who to invite to your wedding," admits Jennae Saltzman, owner of Blush & Whim. Not only do some people you'd rather not attend end up sneaking onto the guest list and therefore seating chart, but "most venues offer tables that seat eight to 10 people, and the average couple finds that the 'magic' number for their groupings is over or well under that."
But don't panic yet. You can still find the perfect seats for even your most difficult wedding guests with these expert tips.
Start by organizing your guests into groups.
Spread out a blown-up version of your floor plan, and write your guests' names onto skinny Post-It notes. "Divide your family and friends into groups, and start sticking groupings onto your floor plan," says Saltzman. "When you run into couples who don't know anyone or controversial groupings, look to seat those guests with more outgoing guests or people they have things in common with so they feel comfortable — or buffer by moving those guests to opposite sides of the room."
Keep an open mind to alternative seating plans.
If a traditional seating chart is giving you too many headaches over too many straggling, difficult guests, "consider opting for a East Coast style reception where there is a lot of movement and mix of high and low tables without assignments," says Saltzman, "or mix up your floor plan by using harvest-style tables that include everyone at the same long table."
And in case you're still ready to pull out your hair over a seating chart, here's a plan for every difficult guest on your list:
Your single friend you met at a yoga class.
"Seat her with your college girlfriends who are also still single and ready to hit the dance floor all night," says Saltzman.
Your boss and his wife.
"Seat them with your parents' family friends or your childhood neighbors so they don't have to listen to inside family stories all night," she says.
Your divorced aunt and uncle.
"Seat them across the room from each other to diffuse any tension," suggests Saltzman.
Your friend who drinks too much.
"Seat them as far away from the bar as possible so they don't get out of hand!" Saltzman says.