Between wrangling late RSVPs, finalizing your wedding day timeline, following up to make sure everyone in your bridal party has their wedding day ensembles purchased (or at least ordered), squeezing in those last pre-wedding beauty appointments, and planning for any remaining wedding vendor payments (don't forget the wedding day gratuities!), the final weeks counting down to your actual wedding date can feel like an obstacle course at times, without a doubt.
One of those all-important wedding planning tasks during these last few weeks is finalizing your guest list and composing your wedding reception seating chart—and trust us when we say this is one task you do not want to put off, because it usually takes a couple of tries (or sometimes, more than a couple of tries) to get the right mix of guests seated together.
When working on your master wedding seating chart template, you'll be mixing friends from different periods of your lives and different social circles, immediate and extended family members from both of your families, and other guests that don't necessarily fit neatly into a category, such as close family friends, work colleagues, and others who've meant a great deal to the two of you over the years.
Don't forget that just because you and your partner count your wedding guests near and dear enough that you want them to be present for your vows, it's likely that most guests will only know a handful of others present—and some might only know the two of you!
Some of your guests will be single, others coupled up or married, others divorced or attending solo for other reasons. It's important to consider the potential for family tensions or drama, such as where to seat divorced parents, as well as where people are at the stages in their lives—seating newlyweds with a single friend who recently went through a major breakup might not be such a great match. And don't forget about any past relationships that may be awkward, even now, such as if two of your friends who've RSVP'd dated previously, and now they're expected to explain how they know each other when they're seated at the same table. (Whoops!).
The bottom line is, of course, you want everyone to have an amazing time at your wedding day celebrations, and who sits with whom at the reception is a big part of that equation. With so much riding on the outcome, we totally understand how working on your wedding seating chart template can be more than just a little nerve-racking.
But before what's supposed to be an organized process turns into a wall full of color-coded Post-it Note chaos, let's take a deep breath and pause for a moment. This is the 21st Century after all, and there are some pretty fantastic (and totally free!) digital seating chart tools and resources out there that can help you streamline the process, allowing you to move guests around from table to table with ease, and even designing the space you're working with digitally based on specs from your venue. These digital options produce easily sharable results, ensuring everyone from your venue and vendors to key family members are on the same page.
Here are five of our favorite wedding seating chart makers, none of which will require even a single cent of your wedding budget.
By using the drag-and-drop seating chart tool offered by WeddingWire, you can customize a seating plan and choose table shapes, as well as keep track of your RSVPs, all in one place. Plus, the site allows you to easily share your fancy new digital wedding seating chart template once it's complete. You can print, export, or email your floor plan to your venue (as well as your parents) so everyone is looped in on the arrangement. You can also find this tool in an app version for download in both the App Store and Google Play.
If you have a lot of extended family on your guest list, be sure to enlist your parents' input on how to group everybody together, and where to place other guests they know well. Your mom's bestie that's basically been an aunt to you all of your life? She may love getting to know some of your game-night friends. Utilizing a tool such as WeddingWire's chart to easily share your list can be a huge help with this part of the process.
When professional event planners, caterers, and other vendors will pay to use an online resource to draft seating charts for their events, you know it's a good one. Fortunately, AllSeated offers couples complimentary access to its online suite of tools, which includes a library of venues around the country—so it's possible your actual venue is already available in their catalog, scaled to size and ready to go. All you need to do is import your guest list from Excel and assign tables based on your to-scale floor plan.
This tool can seem a little bit overwhelming at first, with countless options to choose from for table sizes and other additions to the room, but once you sit down and dive in, you'll find that it's easy enough to navigate to build the perfect seating chart. And once you've completed the seating plan for your reception, you can also utilize this tool for other wedding-related events such as your rehearsal dinner and day-after brunch using the same master list.
If you'd rather plan out your reception tables from the comfort of your couch, the free seating chart app Table Planner is worth a download. This savvy app allows you to name or number your tables, make notes (such as dietary requirements, or tag friends with kids), and drop-and-drag placement of your guests as you try out different configurations. You can even import your guest list straight from your contacts! The one downside is that Table Planner is only compatible with iPads, so far.
But as an added bonus, once your seating chart is complete, you can also use this tool to create a customized wedding map highlighting key locations and venues, providing a great resource for your guests if you're planning a wedding with multiple venues or events over the weekend.
While this tool isn't as robust as those offering the ability to click and drag tables, it certainly will help set you up for success. You'll need a free Zola account to start setting up your seating chart, but once you're all logged in planning will be a breeze.
Add in the number of tables you're planning and assign guests to each table. Zola's seating chart tool will visually display them based on RSVPs, allowing you to filter out certain groups. Once your list is complete, you can download the finished chart in an Excel spreadsheet for easy access.
For those of you that prefer working with a spreadsheet, Style Me Pretty has shared an excellent, color-coded seating chart template that you can save to Google Drive. It doesn't have drag and drop functionality, but nonetheless it's extremely simple to use—especially for those who love Excel and Google Sheets!