Wedding Seating Charts
We’re bringing in the experts for this one! My good friend and stationery genious, Tifany Wunshcl of Gourmet Invitations shared these aweomse reasons why seating charts are a great alternative to place cards. Take a look, and let us know what you think! Tifany also does beautiful work with invitations, and works with clients all over the country. Make sure to give her a shout when you’re ready to start, your designs!
Seating charts for weddings are more and more popular each year. A perfect alternative to escort cards and place cards, here are the TOP 10 REASONS why you should consider a seating chart for your wedding or event.
*Please do remember that if you offered your guests a meal choice on the RSVP cards, you will most likely need to have an escort card indicating their meal choice so the waitstaff know what entree to bring. Check with your catering manager to see how they prefer to recieve this information!
10. Seating charts can enhance the overall wedding design
Seating charts just aren’t a simple list of names. When properly designed, they are another source of decor for your wedding. We always use our client’s invitation design and fonts to create our seating charts. Once, we created a gorgeous seating chart had a hand sketched graphic of the Itallian villa where the wedding is taking place. We can design your seating chart around any theme or inspiration you could ever want!
9. Seating charts make a great keepsake to hang in your home after the wedding
Many of our clients hang their seating charts in their home after the wedding. They make a wonderful keepsake and a reminder of your wedding day and the guests.
8. Seating charts are usually displayed on an easel making them at eye level and easier to read
Your guests don’t have to lean down to look at cards displayed all together on an escort card table. Seating charts can be hung, placed on an easel or a top a table. Simply by putting the list of the guests’ names in alphabetical order, a seating chart is a much more functional piece than escort cards.
*Added note from Kate – Unless you have a VERY small guest count, seating charts shoule always be done in alphabetical order by last name, NOT table number. This will save your guests time and frustration of searching through row after row of table numbers.
7. Place cards and escort cards can be a mess
We often hear from wedding coordinators that guests pick up their escort cards, starting talking (or drinking) and leave the cards around the cocktail area. Since the guest knows their table at that point, the card gets forgotten; leaving the staff and coordinators to pick up the left over cards.
*Another note from Kate 🙂 If you choose individual cards and you are not working with a planner, you’ll have to make arrangements for someone to set set up your cards so they look nice. This seems simple, but it can be a very time consuming task, especially if they are not in alphabetical order by last name!
6. A place card table looks good only until the first card is taken
You see the photos all of the time. The gorgeous place card displays and escort card tables with all of the cards lined up in a row. But now imagine the table after half the guests have taken their card. Now how about imaging it after everyone has their card and the few people that ended up not being able to make it, have the straggling cards left over. Seating charts avoid this issue and looks good all night long!
5. Seating charts typically have larger fonts than place cards
It may not appear that way in these photos, but the font size on seating charts is typically 16pt to 24pt or larger. Because the size of escort card tents is smaller, the font can typically only be 14pt to 16pt. We often get asked if older guests can read a seating chart. Our response is always that it can be read better than place cards.
4. Seating charts are more cost effective for larger weddings
When you consider that you have to pay for place cards on a per piece basis, seating charts are much more economical for a larger wedding. With a one time design and printing fee, one chart is a better choice typically when your guest list is more than 125 guests. With a seating chart for your wedding, you also don’t have to pay for flowers, linens, holders or other decor for using and displaying escort cards.
3. Seating charts eliminate the need for an escort card and a place card
Some of our clients still prefer to follow proper etiquette and have an escort card to direct a guest to their table and then a place card at their particular seat. This issue with this is the fact that now your guest has two cards to deal with. Where do you put the escort card? Are you supposed to keep it, display it, give it to the wait staff to throw it away? With a seating chart, the need for an escort card is completely eliminated, keeping your table design clean and uncluttered.
2. Seating charts are considered “green” – you aren’t wasting all of the cardstock for place cards and escort cards
This reason is a must for any environmentally conscious and green clients. Why use a ton of cardstock that just goes into the garbage? One large poster that can be kept is a better option that many pieces of cardstock.
1. The most important reason of them all! Brides want their wedding to be unique. A seating chart is very unexpected and different than the traditional place card
Seating charts can match the reception location, the invitations, a special theme or even have a photo. But seating charts can be printed on so many mediums. This 30 foot by 9 foot seating chart completely covered the front of this tent. Seating charts on mirrors, printed on large canvas, hung from old bed frames, window frames and printed on plexiglass are just a few ideas. If you can dream it, we can design and make it for your unique event!
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Wedding Room Blocks 101 by Skipper
A room block is a group of hotel rooms that a hotel puts on hold at a specially negotiated rate for a group of people. A room block can be set up for a family reunion, a conference, or a wedding! Room blocks typically need to be at least 9 rooms (although sometimes hotels offer room blocks for 5+ rooms). All individual guests are responsible for paying for and reserving their own rooms. The hotel will usually release any unused rooms within 30 days prior to arrival (this is known as the cutoff date) with no penalty. Please note that wedding room blocks don’t usually require any prepayment (but sometimes they will, especially if you are guaranteeing rooms or looking in destination wedding location).
Make sure your wedding isn’t on the same weekend as any major events going on at the same time. There will always be something going on, but the Superbowl or Restaurant Week taking place over your weekend will make things a lot more difficult to plan and a lot more expensive for your guests.
How many rooms?
A safe way to estimate the number of rooms you need is to take the total number of out-of-town guests that you’re expecting and divide that number by two. You will almost never need more than that amount of rooms, and will usually need less. If you’re planning on splitting your guests up at multiple hotels, you can just divide that number by the number of hotels you’ll be holding rooms at.
The location of your wedding and the amount of out-of-town guests you’re expecting should affect the number of room blocks you set up. Know that you can’t accommodate everyone. Some people will be staying with friends and family or will have rewards points with another hotel group. So no need to get room blocks at 10 hotels around the city in hopes that everyone will be happy. It’s more fun when everyone is staying at the same hotel anyways (or at least at hotels that are close by). If you want to give options of hotels to your guests, it’s best to offer 2 hotels that vary in price by more than $50 and are within 1-2 miles of the wedding venue. Guests want room blocks that are close to the weekend activities. Walking distance is ideal, but a short shuttle ride away from your venue is also a great option. Wedding room blocks are a great way to get additional perks from hotels. Some hotels will sometimes offer you free shuttle service to your venue or maybe even a complimentary honeymoon suite if your guests book a lot of rooms. This is on top of the savings you can usually get by booking as a group.
Room block type – Courtesy vs Guaranteed
A courtesy room block is the most flexible option. You won’t need to pay anything up front and won’t be charged penalties for unused rooms. Hotels can’t offer too many rooms initially (10-30 rooms max.) in this case, but will usually add more if you fill the rooms and they still have availability. Not all hotels will be able to offer a courtesy room block, though, especially if it is for a destination wedding or a very popular weekend. We usually recommend that our users try for this option when possible. A guaranteed room block is usually less desirable for weddings. The hotel will charge you a penalty if your guests don’t book an agreed upon percentage (usually 80-90%) of the rooms in the room block. This is really only a good option for people with very large or destination weddings who are absolutely certain guests will need the rooms at that particular hotel. If you’re thinking of this option, you should do some preliminary research to make sure you’ll have enough guests to book at the hotel, by calling some of your closer friends and family to see their plan for accommodations.
Signing the agreement
Once you get an offer you like, you can accept the offer to request an agreement which will finalize the deal. Most of the agreements for wedding room blocks are typically more for the hotel than for you. If it is a courtesy room block agreement, you are not financially liable for anything. The hotel simply must deliver the number of rooms they offered at the rate they offered to your guests. Sometimes the agreements get reused so just make sure it has your name and dates on it before signing. Also, remember that Skipper makes the signing process easy through e-sign. So there’s no need to print, scan, or fax anything.
Sharing the Info
If a room block is set up, but nobody knows about it, is there a room block? Sorry to get all philosophical, but hey! You need to share the room block info with your guests so they can take advantage of these deals. We’ve heard too many stories of guests booking rooms at the hotels separately, completely unaware that they could get a special rate for rooms by booking in your block. This also means they won’t be on the list that you’ll get from the hotel, so it could impact your welcome bag or transportation counts. Guests really appreciate when you give them one or two options and detailed instructions for booking rooms, whether it’s a phone number to call or a booking code to type in online. You can share this information on your wedding website or email it out in a reminder to your guests.
Finalizing your guest list can often be a bigger challenge than many couples anticipate. Some questions you should consider when choosing this list of individuals are: how many people can your venue fit, how many people do you want in attendance, who gets a plus one, and how you may narrow down your list. This task may seem tedious at first, but we can assure you that it is easier than you think. This list will help you conquer these questions to make the process fun and free of stress, as it should be!
1.) How many people do you want in attendance?
This is very much a personal preference each couple will need to decide on. Some have large families and know they can’t get away with under 300 guests, and others dream of a more intimate affair. A good place to start is to look through your holiday card list, or ask your parents for copies of theirs. This might remind you of some people that you should include, and also helps with the address collection! You can also reach out to family members that have recently hosted a wedding or another event like a graduation party and ask for their list to help get things started. Outside of that, go old school and break out the pen and pad of paper and start jotting down names! Remember, you don’t need to invite everyone you know, try to focus on those that have played a role in your lives together and separately, and who you want to be present to celebrate the big day.
2.)How many people can your venue fit?
While I do recommend that you create your guest list BEFORE deciding on a venue, many couples have an ideal location in mind before they start working on the details of the wedding. If this you your case, it is very important to consider how many individuals your venue can hold prior to creating your guest list, Remember, venues have specific requirements for how many individuals the facility can hold in total, and getting too close to that number might make things tight.
This can get tricky though, because in most cases, the number of invited guests will vary significantly from the number of guests that actually attend. So if your ideal venue holds 200 people, but you’re inviting 220, is it still an option for you? The general rule is that about 20% of the invited guests will not be able to attend. So for example, if you invite those 220 guests, the number of guests you can expect would be about 176. A couple of things do impact that percentage though. If you are having a wedding on a holiday or holiday weekend, having a destination wedding, or if a large number of guest would be coming from out of town/state, you might see that the decline rate is higher than 20%. Alternatively, if most of the guests are local, or if your families drop everything for a good party, your decline rate might be lower than 20%. It is a bit of a guessing game until the wedding date gets closer and people can fully commit, which is one of the most challenging things when it comes to planning a wedding.
3.) Who gets a plus one? What about kids?
Ah, a big question. Generally, the “plus one” rule is that any married guests invitations would include both members of the couple, and all single adults (engaged, in a serious relationship, or completely single) should be invited to bring a date. This can get tricky though, especially if you’re limited in space and/or budget. If you find that you have some guests that are either single, bounce around in relationships, or maybe have a significant other that you would rather not attend, choosing to invite just them and not allow them to bring someone along might create tension in your relationship with them. If they would not know many other people at the wedding, it would be considerate to allow them to bring someone along. I do find that most guests that are NOT in a relationship at the time the invite is sent out will apt to attend alone, as opposed to bringing a date just to bring someone along. If you can swing it with the venue and your budget, I would recommend avoiding hurt feelings or potential rifts and allow the plus ones for all the adults across the board.
So, what about kids? This again is usually dependent on what you picture your wedding to be like, and the nature of both of your families. If you both have loads of nieces and nephews or friends with little ones, it might be an obvious choice that you want to include them in the big day. Make sure to talk to your venue/caterer about special menu selections for the little ones, and high chairs or booster seats if needed.
If having to avoid little feet on the dance floor isn’t for you, there is nothing wrong with having an adults only reception. In my experience, most parents are happy to have a night out with adults and will arrange for a sitter on their own. If you do anticipate getting some push back, or have parents of little ones that will need to travel with the kids, it is a nice gesture to arrange to have childcare onsite or at a hotel close by. Another grey area is the teens/pre-teens age group. They hopefully aren’t going to be as distracting as the little ones if they were to attend, but might still take away from the “adult” reception that you are looking to have. I really recommend taking these on a case by case basis, considering their maturity level as well as their relationship with their parents. They might be the one’s in need of a night away from the kids more than parents of the little ones!
4.) How do you narrow down your guest list?
Often when creating guest lists, couples create a List A and a List B. List A is comprised of the individuals whose attendance is essential at the wedding, including immediate family members and close friends. List B is comprised of individuals who the couple would love to invite, but might not have room to do so. They tend to be work friends or more distant family members that you don’t get to see that often. If a significant number of guests from List A cannot attend then the couple can send out invitations to List B and invite some from there.
While I don’t fully recommend this approach, I do see the benefits, and offer a couple of things to make sure you keep in mind. If you are sending out Save the Dates, DO NOT send them to the B list! Anyone who receives a Save the Date will assume they are invited, and might start making travel arrangements as needed. Because the B listers will most likely be getting a later invitation, I do recommend that you be honest with those on the secondary list, rather than trying to keep it a secret. They are probably wondering if they are going to be invited, so letting them know that you would love for them to be there, but you have space restrictions puts it all out in the open. That way they know the situation, and can plan accordingly.
An alternative to a B list is to have a more informal celebration with those coworkers or friends that you just simply didn’t have room for, but you do want to celebrate with. It can be an informal happy hour after work, or just a small house party after the post-wedding craziness has passed. That way those that you maybe had to sacrifice from the list so that Great Aunt Sally could bring her Bridge Club can still celebrate with you, without needing to worry about List A and List B.