Whether you decide to go with pen and paper or Excel, it doesn’t matter as long as it organizes you. In our experience, Excel works really well if you’re working with hundreds of guests as you can drill down guests by type: bride vs. groom guest, family, or friend (and then even immediate family, extended family, high school friend, and college friend, and so on). If you’re working with less than hundred guests, paper and pen can work just fine, too.
Deciding where you and your groom will sit depends on your personality. If you like the spotlight, a sweetheart table might be for you. This option includes a small table just for the bride and groom, and is sometimes elevated so everyone at your wedding can see you both. Of course, many people choose to have a head table at which the entire bridal party sits with the bride and groom in the center. This is a great option if you're not crazy about constant limelight throughout the reception.
Seating Parents and In-Laws
Just because tradition dictates that your parents and your in-laws-to-be should sit at the same table, doesn’t mean that you have to follow it. Maybe your parents are divorced or maybe his Dad isn’t the easiest guy to deal with. If this is the case for your family and in-laws-to-be, do not hesitate to give each set of parents’ their own table filled with their friends and family. It will make your day easier and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Some brides choose to create a kids' table, where all the children at the wedding (from both sides), sit together. This can be a great option for kids eight and over, but for younger children, it’s best to sit them at the same table as their parents. If you choose this option, then make sure you seat other parents with children at the same table so couples without children don’t feel “stuck” with kids.
Visualize Tables & Conversations
Draw out how many tables you’ll have, and using Post-Its put your seating chart in place. Now that you can “see” your guests next to one another, take a minute to think about what kind of conversations this group will have. Will they jell? How do they know each other? If after putting the table together, you’re able to visualize that your Aunt Sherry will not appreciate the humor of the groom’s childhood friend, this is the time to move them.
Don’t Force Mingling
This brings us to an important and last tip: your family and friends are excited to celebrate your big day, but they are also excited to see one another. Placing your high school friends at one table and your college friends at another will be appreciated. If you feel that some friends from different groups need to meet during the reception, then introduce them via email prior to your wedding saying you hope they get to meet on your wedding day because you think they’d really get along.