Putting together a table plan can be an absolute nightmare. How many people can you fit around a 6ft table? How will the tables fit in the room? Are you going to have to put your cousin the Liverpool fan next to your mate the Man Utd fan? It’s a genuinely tricky thing to get right, particularly when you’re trying to jot it down on the back of a beer mat! (NOT that that was how our own table plan came together you understand… it was really more of a coaster we drew on…) Fortunately help is at hand to make things that little bit easier for you, and today we thought we’d show you a few of the options. There are quite a few tools starting to emerge and many specialist apps both paid and free, but these are just a few of the free ones I’ve come across on a quick search of Google.
Wedding Wire – www.weddingwire.com
Wedding Wire is an American site that offers a series of free online tools to help you through all of the planning stages of your wedding including creating a database of your guests, whether they have RSVP’d, their meal choices, whether they’re on your A-list, B-list or C-list, and the household (which could also be used as just groups of friends).
You can then take all this guest information and use it to start forming an interactive seating plan. It’s very simple to use (I’d formed a basic seating layout in about 40 seconds… although I was just making it up to be fair) with its drag and drop interface and gives you options to specify the size of the room and the size and shape of each individual table, the number of chairs you want around each one, and has templates for one sided tables, cake tables, bars and most of the key things you will need to place in the room. You can physically move your guests around onto individual chairs which is particularly useful. You can save your profile so you can come back to it at any time or you can print or export it as a JPEG right out of the app – very useful for actually putting your place settings out on the day!
There is a Wedding Wire iPhone and Android app which seems like it would be a brilliant idea and be great for anyone setting up the tables the morning of the wedding! Sadly the app is currently unavailable in the UK and that’s a real shame as, being flash based, the seating plan won’t work on iPads and iPhones and various other tablets and mobiles.
The Wedding Community – www.theweddingcommunity.com
UK wedding resource site The Wedding Community offers another great set of resources to help you plan your wedding. Similarly to Wedding Wire there are functions to help you keep your budget information and to-do list and there’s also the ability to keep a scrapbook of ideas, and store photos and videos all within your profile page.
Entering all your guest information is again very simple, and we like that there are options to identify whether guests are invited to the whole day or just the evening reception. You can add either any dietary requirements or general notes (so you could maybe add some notes on who else each person knows to help you with the planning) and it allows you to keep track of whether the invite has been sent and whether they have accepted or declined.
The table planning section produces a more simple plan than Wedding Wire and is more about putting a list together rather than working out where tables can fit and who will be next to whom. The list itself is useful to keep track of whether you have placed everyone though, but having put my list together I couldn’t see the option to print it which was a little disappointing. If you’re looking to keep it simple and just need a resource to keep track of your guests though, then alongside its other great tools (and other excellent content) the Wedding Community planning tools may just be for you!
Finally I took a quick look at a site designed purely for seating planning:
Top Table Planner – www.toptableplanner.com
Top Table Planner offers fewer additional features than the others, focussing purely on getting your table plan together rather than giving you other planning facilities. It’s a very graphical interface but like the others allows you to put together a guest list with various unspecified meal options and gives you the options to specify each guest’s gender and whether or not they have RSVP’d.
You can specify the size of the plan, can drag and drop your guests into different seats and there are options for all different types of tables along with icons for other key items such as the dance floor, cake table and any pillars that are in the room. All of these are resizable, although this appears to only be done freehand rather than being able to specify the measurements. We were only on the free trial version though so this may be different in the full version of the app. Generally it was very easy to use and like Wedding Wire there were print and save options to make your final plan more usable.
This was the only one of the three that came at a price however, and with prices increasing depending how long ahead you are planning it can become a very pricey option. There’s no specific app for other devices but unlike Wedding Wire it is optimised to work fine on tablets and mobiles. There is a trial version if you want to give it a try without spending the cash!
For me I think I would have to choose Wedding Wire as the best of the bunch. Although I do feel that not being able to use it on my iPad would be a major drawback as I’d prefer to have the option to have the plan with me electronically when doing the setup, the fact that I could export it as a picture or just print it probably means it wouldn’t matter too much. The additional information you can store on the site such as budgets and inspiration boards means it really can store all the information you need, and it was the most precise and flexible of the three we investigated for the actual laying out of the tables.