Please be seated!
Seating plans! This can prove to be one of the more challenging factors in planning a party reception but doesn’t need to be. All that is required is a little strategic planning and space consideration. Whether it be a wedding, charity event or a milestone occasion; where there will be food there will be seats!
Let’s look at the actual space first. It is important to ensure that there is enough room for people to manoeuvre between tables and chairs. There is nothing worse than having to squeeze in between guests and the constant ‘excuse mes’ and ‘sorrys’ when you stand up. A party tent is a great choice for a venue here as space can be bespoke to what your needs are, giving you the flexibility to add seating and space where you require it. Dependant on your seating style, you should consider whether there is any access for walking to the stage or speaking area if you are having one, minimising the opportunity for obstacles. Is there a clear pathway for the VIPs to move to the main arena space without physical restraints? What potential is there for accidents or clashes and can they be avoided with a little planning? Or are you planning a traditional wedding when the bridal party needs to be seen by all but remain fairly static? A marquee allows you to create the space of your dreams.
Once space and layout have been decided, it is worth looking at individual placement next. Once those RSVPs have come flooding in and you know who is in attendance at the event you should consider the personalities of the guests. Who should sit with who? Where you seat people can be an important ingredient to a great not to mention a peaceful party! Do you want a table full of introverts where the flow of conversation is potentially laboured or conversely a table full of large characters who are battling to be heard? Consider the types of people and look at having a mix of personalities on each table where possible to minimise personal clashes and maximise synergy.
Staying on the topic of personalities we can also take a look at relationships. This doesn’t have to mean keeping all the couples together and having the singletons all on a separate table. That is your choice of course but the key is to remember that there are no hard and fast rules for seating plans.
Keeping friendship groups and independent guests separate can be tempting for some but explore integration where appropriate. This can really help create a wonderfully inclusive party atmosphere.
Consider family relationships and dynamics where relevant. Does Auntie Jackie always start an argument with her brother after a few glasses of wine? If the event is work-related, it is worth identifying any internal conflicts and personal problems that unless managed could have a potential for public catastrophe. If you know that Margaret from Accounts and Sue from HR are not fans of one another then look at pairing them with more placating personalities.
One final tip, depending on the scale of the event, is to have a number of seating plans on display for all to see so you don’t have all of your guests walking around frantically trying to locate their place. At the very least have who is on which table and where the table is located. Place name cards on tables so once guests have located their tables they are guided as to where to sit. Bucks Marquees work with a number of associates who can take care of the details from the visuals to the finer details like name cards. Sometimes having an external pair of eyes to help you with your seating plan can save hours of inner turmoil!
Have fun planning!