Wedding Wisdom

Be Our Guest

Welcome to Wedding Wisdom! Every week, JET experts will help you plan your dream nuptials from engagement to “I do.”  This week, wedding planner and bride-to-be Tami Smallwood, CEO of blush|WEDDING & EVENT PLANNING FIRM, shares tips for managing guests and seating arrangements.

Photo courtesy of Cellar Door Photography.

Photo courtesy of Cellar Door Photography.

With my own wedding only a few weeks away, the top concerns on my to-do list are the guests and seating arrangements.  Luckily, I have a foolproof plan for tackling this issue and if this is an issue for you as well, keep reading.

Keep your count under control. When preparing my guest list, I grouped the guests together into two categories: the first were absolute must-invites, such as family and closest friends and the second group were all the remaining guests.  Weed out the people on the second list by asking yourself some questions:  When was the last time you saw this person?  Would having them there really make or break your day?  Based on your answers, you should be able to reduce your list.

Get familiar with spreadsheet software.  An organized list on your tablet or computer can save you time and headaches.  Creating a master list can help when building smaller lists i.e., bridal shower invites, out-of-town guests for welcome baskets, etc.

Keep a paper trail.  When your guests return their RSVP cards, make sure to keep them as a point of reference.  As a planner, I like to have copies of the response cards on hand.  You would be surprised to learn how many guests forget if they selected fish or chicken for their entrée.

Create a strategy for your seating arrangements.  Make sure to sit people at tables where they can enjoy themselves and are most comfortable.  Arranging tables with like-minded guest may seem simple, but considering comfortability may be a bit more challenging.  When preparing my seating assignments, I took my left-handed aunt into consideration.  I didn’t want her bumping into a “righty” throughout dinner, so I made sure I put her at the end of one of our long family tables instead a round one.  That may sound extreme – but your guest will appreciate the extra effort.

Sweetheart table vs. head table. This one is personal.  If most of your bridal party have significant others or spouses, a sweetheart table should be considered.  This gives you time with your new spouse for dinner, and allows your bridal party to sit with their loved ones, too. That way, everyone wins!

Now that we’ve set the rules for guest arrangements, here are a few tips for being a good guest.

RSVP immediately. When you get the invitation, fill out the response card and mail it back right away.  A timely response helps the couple plan without guessing. At the very least, it allows them enough time to give a count to the caterer.

Follow the instructions on the invitation. Beside formerly asking you to come to their wedding and providing the date and time, the invitation gives you instructions on how to be the perfect guest. Look for clues such as “Adult reception only” or “Black Tie.” These clues are indicators on how to dress and who (if anyone) you should bring along.

Mind your manners. Arrive on time, dress appropriately and be respectful during the ceremony and at the reception. There are a lot of details that go into making any wedding a special one, so please be mindful. After all, you were invited because your presence is deeply valued.

Planning a wedding is hard work, but worth the effort. If planned properly, you will have a smooth day with great memories to last a lifetime.