Pinning down your table-plan is important as your wedding meal is two or three hours long, so it’s a big part of the day. Once you’ve sorted it, that’s one sigh of relief you can breathe…
You can start planning even before the RSVPs come in. Start with your entire invitations list and winnow out the people who won’t be able to make it. Don’t leave it too late as it can turn into a rushed nightmare.
Check out the venue
Make sure the venue is large enough for the size, shape and number of your tables. You need to leave everyone enough room to get up and move around without feeling packed in and claustrophobic.
Mix up friends and family
It’s a hard balance to achieve, but avoid filling entire tables with family as no-one will be able to mingle properly. You shouldn’t put all strangers on one table either, though, as it can easily go wrong. Think about ages and interests.
The singles’ corner
Always seat partners together and don’t ever be tempted to match-make (at least, don’t do it obviously…). Don’t ever have a singles’ table. Just don’t.
Even Stevens (and Stephanies)
Try to have an even-ish number of men and women at each table so there’s a god flow of conversation and good behaviour. Can you imagine being the only guy at a table of drunk women?
Make sure place cards are clear and visible. You could have themed table names, which is fun, a conversation-starter and avoids hierarchical table numbers.
Try tables rather than seats
You don’t have to pin people down to seats (and certainly not literally!), offer them tables instead, which means they can swap seats if they want to mingle.
Think about access
People with young children, pregnant women and older people may need to be a bit nearer to the bathroom than most, so make this happen for them.
Don’t forget yourselves
You’d be surprised how often this happens!
Don’t think about it too much
You don’t need to spend so long staring at your plan that your contact lenses fall out! Sometimes, if it feels OK, it’ll be OK. The worst that can happen is that someone has to make a bit more effort to strike up a decent convo. The best that can happen is that two strangers become lifelong friends!