There are many benefits to choosing assigned seating for your wedding reception such as making sure your guests are comfortable, and seated with other people they know. Give yourself ample time to plan the seating arrangments, but be flexible since your guest list can change when your RSVP's are returned. When your guest list and seating chart have been finalized, decide if you will use table numbers or table names to identify each table. If you are having a themed wedding such as a green wedding, you could name your tables after trees and plants. See other theme ideas here. If you would like to use table numbers, consider using numbers that relate to you such as the age you were when you met, number of years you have been together, number of times you have been to your favorite destination together (Hawaii, San Francisco, Major League Baseball Games etc) these numbers will be a conversation starter for guests and will also avoid any idea that the tables are numbered in order of importance.
With your table names or theme decided, make a diagram of how you would like your tables laid out. This diagram will be very important to getting your reception set up the way that you want and will serve as a helpful tool for your vendors. If your favors are personalized for each guest, include their names on the diagram or on a seperate sheet of paper with the names by table, crossing off any last minute RSVP's who will not be attending.
Next, you can either create escort cards or a large board with guests names and their assigned table number or name. If you have exact seating preferences, then you will indicate which table they will be sitting at and the guest will then find their name card at their seat.
You can be creative with your escort cards, and you can even use a guest favor with their name on it to identify their seat at the table. For a smaller wedding, a manzanita tree with the guests name and table number/name hanging in the branches would be a beautiful way to display your escort cards. Other ideas include using corks, clothespins, mini frames, and folded card stock for displaying names. Check out some of these creative ideas on Martha Stewart Weddings .
Just remember, there are no rules or limitations as long as the system you use is easy to understand for your vendors and most importantly for your guests!
_________________________________________ Photo by Tracy Lynn Photography