By Maria Immaculate Owechi
At any kind of sit-down event including your wedding reception, a proper seating plan is a necessity especially if you are hosting more than 50 guests.
This is because when guests arrive at the reception, they are eager to find out where they are sitting and how convenient it is. In case the seating arrangement is not organised, it can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing experience for some people to choose seats and later be re-located.
Here are some aspects to take note of while creating the perfect seating arrangement at your wedding reception.
Consider the number of invited guests
The whole essence of planning a seat arrangement is to ensure your guests will be comfortably accommodated.
Kabasinguzi says this is important in order for the wedding planner to suggest the right size of the venue and how many chairs and tables will be organised.
The size of the Venue
According to Mrs Margaret Nagaya, a decorator with Patrima Events, the first step while scouting for a venue is to ensure it has a large capacity to accommodate seated guests.
She says parties with people struggling to have a good view of the couple are a result of hiring a small venue yet the people are many.
Mrs Nagaya shares an experience during a traditional wedding where she had planned for a tent, chairs and tables that could accommodate the 100 guests from the groom’s side, “When the number rose to 200, the bride didn’t inform me and so we were forced to disorganise the seating arrangement so that all the guests fit into the tent,”
She adds, “We had to remove some tables so that we fix in more chairs which ended up making everything look disorgainsed.”
For a well-spaced and arranged seating plan where the guests can have a good view of the couple and enough room to move around and dance, agree on the venue size, or seating arrangement with your decorator.
The types of tables
After determining the number of guests, you will need to calculate how many tables you require, how many that can fit on each and how much space needed for them to actually walk between them.
William Katumba, another decorator with Ka2mba Deco Kingdom says sometimes even if the venue grounds are large enough, some clients still opt for small tents that don’t have enough room for a well-spaced arrangement.
He says this why you find some outdoor seating arrangements closely packed because the decorator wants all the guests to fit into the shelters. Katumba says couples should also bear in mind that the shape and size of the tables chosen dictate the number of guests that can be seated.
He reveals that the round and rectangle tables are the most common types at wedding receptions with each having its own benefits.
Katumba explains that round tables are the most preferred choice because they can afford to give guests more legroom while the rectangular ones are good for bigger numbers.
The wedding decorator adds that the table types also determine the seating arrangement like for rectangular tables it is usually a bus seating style while for the round ones it is the banquet style.
Categorise your guests
Once you have finalised the seating arrangement, it is advised to start categorising the guests according to their relationship with you.
This helps to avoid scenarios where your closest family members are pushed to sit behind while a friend or neighbour takes a center place next to the high table.
According to Kabasinguzi, the traditional wedding seating arrangement dictates that the parents of both the groom and bride have to occupy the front tables on each side, “They share this table alongside grandparents and any siblings that aren’t part of the wedding party,” she adds, “Behind them follows the different tables for uncles, aunts, cousins, coworkers, neighbours and other friends.”
The events manager advises couples to also ensure that they have a family member or friend among the usher that knows the guests well so that there is a bit of sensitivity when assigning the tables.
She says this helps to avoid seating together people who have a history of bad blood between them.
Specify the tables
Even after having a clear idea of how your guests will be seated, specifying the tables with reserved cards helps them easily and quickly find their seats.
Mrs Nagaya says the wedding planner doesn’t need to print reserve cards with each individual’s name but rather he/she can use titles like the parent’s table or numbers.
The wedding decorator says this is because there are certain special people the couple’s values so much and would want them to feel Important by reserving for them the best tables.
She gives examples of people like the CEO and fellow employees at your workplace, religious leader or political figure.
The couple’s table
After ensuring all the guests are well seated, it is important to ensure that they are able to see the high table from whichever side.
Mrs Nagaya says the common standard is for the newlywed’s table to be placed at the center of the room and on a raised platform so that they are elevated above the rest for good viewing.
Katumba adds that there is a new trend of seating the couple only with their best man and matron while the rest of the entourage is placed at a certain side so that the guests are not distracted.
However, Mrs Nagaya advises couples to take note that no matter how perfect they organise their seating arrangement, there are certain things that may force the wedding planner to disorganise everything.
She gives examples of certain difficult guests refusing to sit where they are assigned and also being forced to disorganise the arranged pattern to fit in more guests.