Do’s and Don’ts of Seating Your Guests
January 6, 2023
Photos courtesy of
Seating your guests is often an afterthought. It’s something that is necessary and thought of only when the seating chart is created. If it’s done right, it can help your loved ones easily find their way, but if done incorrectly, it can create confusion and undue stress. The great news is that seating charts and escort tables can offer fun design details and create personalization at the start of your reception.
We’ve enlisted the advice of Kelly McWilliams, a Florida native who specializes in destination weddings in Southwest Florida, Nevis, Mexico and even the West Indies. She’s a leader in the destination wedding community and has been planning celebrations since 2002. She even has her own podcast called “This vs That,” helping engaged couples make decisions during their wedding planning. Who better to take on the task of getting guests to their seats, unscathed?
Go Alphabetical: Arrange your guests alphabetically by last name. You will find that this is the most time effective for your guests as they’re looking through the names.
Seat By Couple or Family: Consider listing guests as couples and families. This can also prove to be cost-effective, whether it be with calligraphy on a chart or with cards or favors guests take with them to their seats.
Double Duty: Consider having an escort card that doubles as a place card. It can help stretch your budget and your time.
Have More Than One Seating Chart: Have at least two seating charts if you have a large guest count and place them opposite of each other, so it doesn’t create a traffic jam for your guests.
Give Good Light: Have appropriate lighting on the cards or seating chart. It’s amazing how often this gets overlooked.
Meet and Greet: Have reception greeters who can welcome guests at cocktail hour and let them know where to find their cards. To really step it up a notch, have the host let them know in advance what table they are at and where to find it in the room.
Do Them a Favor: Consider a fun favor that can double as an escort card. Make sure it’s small enough to pack for the trip home.
Design Opportunity: Consider your escort cards or seating chart as an opportunity to create a statement in your overall design. This is essentially the first peek into what is coming.
Go Out of Order: Don’t have hanging escort cards that cannot be hung in order. Yes, they look beautiful, but they are a pain in the neck to find your card!
Get Too Fancy with Fonts: Think about the legibility of the writing. If names are too small or the font is too ornate, finding names can lead to long lines just to find their seat.
Forget Backup: Don’t have an edible (or drinkable) escort card without a backup reminder of the table number.
List by Table Number: Don’t list guests by table numbers unless you have four tables or fewer. Finding “Tom Smith” amongst 150 names and 18 tables is not fun.
Forget the Location: If you are outdoors, the wind, rain and lighting must be taken into consideration. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen cards gone with the wind.
To get inspired for your own seating charts and escort tables, flip to page xx to see our story called “Take a Seat” for more ideas on seating your guests in style!
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Koman Photography (1st); Ether & Smith (2nd); Maria Glassford Photography (3rd)
This article first appeared in Destination I Do’s Spring/Winter 2022 Issue.