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How to Make a Successful Seating Chart

1. “Seat the wedding party at a table at the head of the dance-floor, opposite the band,” says Harriet Rose Katz, a wedding planner for 30 years, and contributor to “Where to Seat Aunt Edna? And 500 Other Great Wedding Tips.”

2. “Place the bride’s family to the wedding party’s right side, and the groom’s family on their left, so everyone will be facing each other.” A sweetheart table—which seats only the bride and groom—is really ill-advised. “It’s not good for the floor plan, and the bride and groom are rarely sitting so it’s just a waste of space and money.” Not to mention more than a little cheesy. (Maybe just for those couples who grew up in the eighties, at least.)

3. Keep elderly guests away from the speakers. “Even with the best music, they’ll be deafened.” Seat small children at a separate, supervised table topped with coloring books (and one that is far away from the bar and the peripheral smoker’s lounge). Katz suggests hiring an interactive entertainer, such as a magician or storyteller. “It’s important for parents to be able to see their children, and vice versa,” Katz says. “But at a gorgeous, sit-down dinner, you simply cannot allow children to run around and steal the show.” That said, consider having an adult-only reception—one that is very clear about the NC-17 rule. You may be unpopular at first, but it’ll probably be a better party and give parents a chance to have some fun.

4. Seat single guests as close as possible, but avoid calling it “a single’s table.” Says Katz, “They don’t need the added pressure of having to get along. That said, single people do tend to get along famously at weddings.” Combine them with young married couples.

5. Place feuding family members at opposite sides of the room but at equal distances from the main floor. Divorced parents who can’t stand each other can host their own tables, though often, they’ll host a common table and act civil. Fingers crossed.

6. Do a combination of square and round tables. “There is no rule about mixing up the shapes of tables,” says Katz. “If you must seat more than 12 people at one table, avoid a round shape. Go oval or rectangular. An 84-inch round table is too large and clumsy. It’s hideous, actually.” Katz’s personal favorite? “I love oval tables. They give flair to a room.”

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