Wedding guests seating arrangement

I want to share my wedding experience with all the readers so that your wedding can be more organised and less chaotic. This time round, I’m going to talk about the main confusion of the wedding night – the arrival of the guests.

With over 400 guests, it was somewhat complicated to plan the seating arrangements. First of all, the positions of the tables were constrained by what the restaurant is able to offer. This meant that the number of tables on the left side of the aisle and the right side of the aisle is predetermined.

And then there was the problem of guests seniority. In general, the more senior guests should be seated in front, near the stage. As such, immediate relatives were seated generally in the first few tables. The next group of people to cater to is the working colleagues, especially if there are bosses in your invitation list. These people cannot be too far away from the stage either, so a middle range table is more suitable for them. And finally, the friends. Luckily, friends are people who are the most understanding of the lot. So the rear seats are mainly occupied by friends.

The problem I made with the seating arrangements was to take on the whole task on my own. I initially didn’t want to ‘trouble’ my 兄弟 because I was already very grateful for their help for the wedding and didn’t want to burden them unneccessarily. But what I didn’t realized was that those are the people who are helping me at the reception counter and those are the people who will be running the show for me in the evening. I myself will be entertaining the guests and will have no spare time to actually show the guests to their seats.

What happened on the actual day was that I only released the guest list and seating arrangement to my 兄弟 only several hours before the wedding dinner (not wanting to ‘trouble’ them). As time was short and we were busy with getting the whole banquet venue ready, testing audio visual systems, etc, I didn’t have time to explain the finer details of the seating arrangements. This resulted in a long queue forming when guests arrive. The receptionists were unfamiliar with the seating arrangements and become slow in finding the names of the guests. And some of the seats were changed because certain guests wanted to sit together at the same table but were arranged to sit separately. These changes resulted in the isolation of some guests. The original seating arrangement was planned in such a way that guests who know each other were seated either at the same table or in adjacent tables, and single guests were grouped with people they might know as much as possible. However, because I only released the guest list so late to my receptionists, there wasn’t time to discuss these details. So the solution to this problem is, to involve the people who are running the show in the planning process. Yes, it make take up some of their time to read and to appreciate the plan, but it’ll make the actual event a much smoother one.

This problem wasn’t restricted just to friends, it had a big impact on relatives too. My relatives numbered around 250, which is more than half the total number of guests for the banquet. Most of these relatives were contacted by my parents or Dear2’s parents. The problem here was that our parents address these relative differently from us. For example, my dad calls his sisters by names, but I address them as 姑. This led to some confusion at the reception area again, and the queue lengthens even more. The other issue was that my parents planned the seating arrangements on paper, handwritten. I had converted everything to Excel form just 2 days earlier so that I can make a printed copy for everyone involved. Suddenly, my parents became unfamiliar with the Excel sheet and couldn’t make out who was sitting where. The result? More chaos, more confusion.

By then, I came to understood why wedding couples always seemed to be so busy during the wedding dinner. And why wedding couple will tell me ‘Next time during your wedding you will know’. After going through this phase, I kinda feel disgusted at the inefficiency and the chaos at the banquet reception. The bad planning was because of my inexperience and also because no one has warned me about potential pitfalls ahead. And this is the main reason I want to share this experience with my readers here, so that you won’t make the same mistake as me. In the end, the wedding banquet still proceeded smoothly, despite a few minor hiccups. And all thanks to my wonderful, capable and dynamic crew of 兄弟 and 姐妹 who managed all the problems and confusion in the background for us. Thank you!

My advise to wedding couples, do not take on the whole banquet planning alone, thinking that you do not want to ‘trouble’ them. Work with the people helping you, and that includes the 兄弟,姐妹,parents and relatives who are helping out. Communicate with them so that everyone has some idea of what is going on. Disseminate information early, and probably throughout the planning process as well. Yes, I understand that there will be changes up till the last minute, but such changes tend to be minor and can be verbally corrected on the actual day. Assign key reception roles to helpers and make sure they arrive way before the first guest arrive. Receptionists should be someone who is able to recognise faces and able to find their names on the guest list quickly. I hope these advices can help couples who are planning their wedding run a smooth sailing wedding banquet reception.



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