At first glance, that big list of names can look insurmountable & an impossible task - trying to fit them all onto just a handful of tables. However don't panic! Over my years of planning weddings, I've found the following tips helpful for couples feeling overwhelmed at the task in hand.
Top table - it doesn't have to be a long table! If you'd rather have a round table, in the middle of the room, & that's a little less "in the spotlight" then tell your venue.
Another idea is to have a "sweetheart table" for just you & your new spouse, meaning you get to enjoy some time to yourselves, without the politics that top tables can bring.
Family rifts - in most family units, you'll find people who aren't getting on like you'd expect. If this occurs around wedding time, then go with the easiest option. Split them up, so there's no animosity over the entrees. With divorced parents, consider each one hosts their own table. This should keep everyone happy & amicable.
Kids tables - if you have a few children attending your big day, how about seating them at their own table? (Age appropriate of course! I'd suggest 7/8 to say 15 years old). A selection of colouring pencils & cards, meaning the kids can create cards for the happy couple - one of my couples recently did this, FANTASTIC idea & I loved seeing the creations afterwards. Placement wise, seat the kids table away from the cake & not on the main walkway that wait staff take, to ensure they're not tempted to dive into the cake or get into the way of the servers.
The party animals - If you have friends or family who like to have a few drinks, then get rowdy, it's probably best to split them out across several tables where possible. Otherwise they can egg each other on, a kind of "pack mentality", making it a little uncomfortable for anyone within their earshot. Also seat them further from the bar, so that they're not easily supplementing their table drinks with shots etc!
The more mature guests - Ah bless them, love having the grandparents, older aunts & uncles, lifelong family friends etc at weddings. They often have a very different view on the day, that they're not afraid to share with people. Suggestion for placement is seat them together where possible, as they'll have the most in common. Put them as close to the top table as possible (so that they can clearly hear the speeches) BUT remember not too far from the loo either!
I hope you've found this article useful? You may think you don't need a seating plan, however any sit down meal needs plan so that serving staff know who has specific dietary requirements, so please bear this in mind before throwing out your planning sheet!
Above all, enjoy the process, & if I can be of any service let me know :)
I'm a qualified wedding planner dedicated to designing & creating weddings for alternative couples. Because everyone deserves a wedding as unique as they are