An Etsy Wedding Seating Chart can be a HUGE mistake

Beware of Etsy™ Wedding Seating Chart

Yeh, I said it. After years of being sent photos of Etsy™ wedding seating charts that are listed by table number and not alphabetically, and even more years of losing orders to Etsy™ sellers who practically give away their seating charts, I’m going to say something about it. whew – deep breath.

NOTE! If you are a skimmer like me, be sure to go to the Let’s Do a Little Test section for some fun!

chicago seating chart


Why are Etsy Seating charts so cheap?

Why? Because sellers are giving their talent away?  It’s the only thing I can come up with. Well, I do have other theories too. When I first started my business in 2005, I designed seating charts for 95% of my clients.  It was a given; I’d design their wedding invitations and then they bought a wedding seating chart designed with their monogram, fonts, graphics, and they received a gorgeous 5mil photo paper poster to put in a frame.  I did this for years.  But then around 2010, the orders dropped off – TREMENDOUSLY. I found out that brides were ordering from Etsy™, for so little money. The two big differences are that the client has to print the chart themselves and you get the design you see and it isn’t custom designed for you.

Like any good business person, I chalked it up to supply and demand and kept my mouth shut. Even though my wedding seating charts are all custom designed and printed on a material no one is going to get at OfficeMax or FedEx, that didn’t seem to matter.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Last year, I started an Etsy shop myself. Amuse Invitations was a company name that I bought in 2010.  Because I’m a foodie, I try to give any new ventures a name that has to do with food.

The amuse-bouche is my favorite part of any gourmet meal. It’s a tiny bit size appetizer that starts the meal and translates to mouth-amuser.  Amuse Invitations – an amusing bite-sized portion of Gourmet Invitations – was born.

I started with downloadable signs that people could simply download and print themselves. I’ve designed so many signs over the years, I have plenty to choose from.

But now I’m beginning to offer seating charts on the Amuse Invitations shop as well.  There are five charts at the time of this writing.

I wanted to write this blog post so everyone understands why 95% of the seating charts on Etsy should be bought with extreme caution.

Table Number Seating charts vs. Alphabetical seating charts

So why am I making such a big deal about seating charts organized by table number, versus a seating chart that is listed alphabetically? I mean a seating organized by table number looks nice. Almost all of the columns are the same length and it’s really easy to layout.  Here is a photo of the one and ONLY chart I have done recently by table number. I didn’t show it anywhere else but here because this isn’t how seating charts should be done. But it looks nice, right?

chalkboard seating chart

The problem isn’t in how it looks.  The issue is that your guests have to stand in front of the chart FOREVER to find their name!  You have to skim and read every line until you find your name.  Have you ever heard that the problem with seating charts is that there is a bottleneck?  If you use a seating chart that is organized by table number you WILL have a bottleneck.

Let’s Do a Little Test

I’m going to ask you to time yourself. When I say “go”, click on the photo above.  See how long it takes you to find the name, Mr. Braden Katz.  Ready? GO!

So how long did it take????

Now let’s try this again with the below photo.  I made it fair; I redid the above chart and organized it alphabetically.  Get ready to time yourself for the second time. When I I say “go”, click on the photo below.  See how long it takes you to find the name, Mr. Braden Katz.  Ready? GO!

So how long did it take that time?!?!?!? I’d love to hear your results. Please POST A COMMENT with your times! I can write a blog article with the results!


Why are Etsy™ Seating Charts mostly sold by Table Number?

  1. It is SO easy to format a seating chart with table numbers. The company is copying all of your text, pasting it into the file, and changing the fonts. That’s it.  Sure there is some organization with aligning the top and bottom (although some vendors do not line up the bottom either).
  2. There is no reorganizing of the names. When I do a seating chart alphabetically, I don’t require that the names come to me alphabetically.  I send over a spreadsheet that my clients MUST use and I alphabetize by the last name and then by the first name.  My charts also have lines or dots that connect each guest’s name to their name number. This takes formulas and design knowledge.  A seating chart organized by table number requires no formatting at all.
  3. They look nice.  Well sure they do, but I feel my responsibility as a wedding professional is to make pieces look nice AND be functional. 50% of my job is to educate too.  If I know another way is better, I’m going to tell my client.  If I have a better way of designing pieces that cost less, it’s my responsibility to inform my clients.

Conclusion – If you skimmed to the end

When buying a seating chart from Etsy™ or any other vendor, be sure your seating arrangements are organized ALPHABETICALLY and not by Table Number.  If the guests have to look at every table to find their names, you will have a backup at your seating chart.  Alphabetical seating charts let your guests find their table fast and easy to get their seats and enjoy your big day.


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  • Le'Trice Penn July 17, 2017  

    It took me 27 seconds to find his name on chart listed by table and 6 second to find it on the alphabetized chart! Thank you for this post. The more education Brides have, the better informed they are when making decisions like this!

  • Jessica Foy July 20, 2017  

    Although I did not time myself, it took me much longer to find the name on the first seating chart. It makes no sense to use that system at all!

  • Julie September 19, 2017  

    This makes sense. However, you seem to bash sellers for cheaper options which I really don’t mind if I can save money where I can. Don’t see this as being very professional. Nonetheless, your article makes sense and will be looking for this option. Best of luck!

    • Gourmet Invitations Team September 29, 2017  
      Gourmet Invitations Team

      Hi Julie! Thank you for your response. It was never my intention to bash Etsy sellers as I’m an Etsy seller myself! I love Etsy! My blog post was to educate couples about the pitfalls of organizing a seating chart by table number and not alphabetical. Best of luck to you as well!