If I can offer any advice to those who might be tying the knot it would be about putting together your table plan. In fact, a good friend of mine gave me this advice and I really stuck to it - as hard as it is you will thank me for sharing this wisdom (*cough* rules).
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT share your plan with anyone (except the hubby...obvs). This is the most essential rule, even if your pesky close relatives are trying to figure out where they're sitting you just need to keep stchum. The minute you reveal any of the plans to your family and friends they will all start to have a say and, believe me, you cannot please everyone so it's best that they just don't know.
The Top Table etiquette is a hard one to get right when, like me and the hubby, there are step-dad's all over the place. Sometimes this can make choosing who to put on your top table difficult as you don't want to offend anyone. My advice is to put the person you are the closest to on the top table but appease the others by offering for them to make a speech - they will understand and appreciate that it was a difficult choice for you. Your general rule of thumb for order is as follows: Best Man, Mother of the Groom, Father of the Bride, Bride, Groom, Mother of the Bride, Father of the Groom, Maid of Honour.
Have a method for recording your table plan but ensure that you can change it. Writing a list is fine but you'll find you end up writing 20 by the time you're happy (which, by the way, you won't be). Something that the hubby and I did that worked really well in those early days of figuring it all out was to pop to Hobbycraft and grab a couple of those big white poly-something boards. Keep one for your plan and cut out bowl-size round circles and shot-glass size ones (obvs the tables and guests). We then added small velcro circles to the back of the small circles and their fluffy partners on the main board and just wrote on our guests names and moved them around the tables...does this make sense? It basically made it easier to visualise where our guests would be sitting and who they would be sat opposite.
All tables need to go boy/girl/boy/girl...don't ask why, they just do (unless you have any gay couples...obviously you can then break the rule).
Allow singletons to have a plus one unless you have a significant number. This is a much nicer thing to do for your guests than having them come alone when they might not know anyone. Where our singletons knew everyone on their table this wasn't an issue but where there's a friend or family member that is not so well acquainted, allow them a plus one - ultimately you want them to be comfortable.
Last one...don't put people on random tables so that they 'mingle' - no one wants to do this!!!! You're going to see these people for one day and one day only and you really just want to hang out with your friends and enjoy it rather than make small talk with Aunty Sue or whatever her name was....
So that's it! Simple right? What tips would you guys give to any brides-to-be? I'd love to know if anyone reading this is getting married and found this useful!
Photography by Kevin Watkins