Are you planning your wedding rehearsal dinner and wondering if you need to prepare a traditional guest seating chart? The short answer is: It's entirely up to you! For both rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions, having an official seating chart or personalized table settings is completely optional, although both certainly have benefits.
Read on to determine if a seating chart is right for your rehearsal dinner, and get tips on where to seat your guests if you assign seats.
Should I Assign Seats at My Rehearsal Dinner?
For a dinner with a larger group in a more formal setting—say, a restaurant's private dining room or a space you've bought out completely—table assignments, if not seating assignments, will ensure every guest has a place to sit. Plus, it will make it easier to share meal selections with your venue if you requested those from guests in advance.
If you're tight on space, you'll also want table assignments. Without them, guests will spread out on their own, and typically, they won't fill up every table to capacity, meaning you'll need to provide more tables. If you're tight on space, assign tables.
If you're having a smaller group that's all seated at one large table, place cards can be a really nice touch—it shows you put in the thought of giving each guest a designated seat.
If you're having a more casual rehearsal dinner (think a backyard picnic or self-serve buffet), seating assignments don't really make sense. It will be impossible to assign people to a table, especially if there are more guests than seats. In this case, you may want to reserve a table for older guests or those who won't be comfortable on their feet for the entire evening. Beyond that, your guests can grab a seat when and where they see fit.
Who Should Sit Where?
You'll definitely want to pick the two best seats in the house for the couple getting married. Your rehearsal dinner seating plan should place their parents near them (unless there are complicated family dynamics) as well as the host of the rehearsal dinner, if that is someone other than a parent. Group bridesmaids and their dates together as well as the groomsmen and their dates together. The ring bearer and flower girl should be seated with their parents.
Typically, rehearsal dinners are far more intimate than a wedding reception, so there's a good chance the guests already know each other. If you have a large number of guests, however, who aren't acquainted, consider who has common interests and is likely to get along well together. You also might try to have one lively conversationalist at every table so there's never a dull moment.
Rehearsal Dinner Seating Chart Ideas
As far as how to actually present your seating chart, if you choose to have one, there are so many great options. You can craft one by hand, order a custom seating chart on Etsy, print one at your local print shop, or get really creative and even draw out the seating chart with chalk paint on a mirror or pane of window glass. The sky's the limit.
Table Settings for Rehearsal Dinner
Regardless of whether you choose to use a seating chart for your rehearsal dinner, you can definitely get creative with the table settings, which are also a good way to indicate who is sitting where. Feel free to keep things simple with floral centerpieces or taper candles, or you could even leave small favors as place settings for your dinner guests. If you want to ensure everyone has an assigned place to sit, consider leaving name cards at each place setting.