You know what really sucked in ninth grade? I had just transferred to a new school, and I couldn’t find anyone to sit with during lunch. I mean, there were spots at tables, but I didn’t know a single human. The girls were gossiping intensely (I don’t miss you, private school) or were too cool, so I ate alone while pretending to be deeply interested in my sci-fi novel. The exact feeling, the way your stomach falls when you’re surveying a room of strangers and awkwardly negotiating where you belong, is something you never want your wedding guests to experience. Which means that for a lot of weddings (excepting the ones where everyone literally knows everyone, or there are no tables) making a seating chart can be a necessary chore to keep your wedding guests (especially shy ones) from feeling like they just flunked out of some high school popularity contest. And of course, once you have a seating chart, you have to find a way to convey that information to your guests, so they don’t spend thirty minutes milling around playing “where’s Waldo” with their name cards. And that magical tool for getting everyone seated is a seating chart. Or in this case a seating… rubber band board.
A seating chart doesn’t have to be complicated. If you want to go super simple, cover foam core (you know, that stuff you used to make your science fair displays) in fabric, and print out name cards using Avery cards from your local office supply store. (In short, follow this tutorial, minus the confetti.)
But. You know that at APW we’re fans of the one big project, #lazygirl style. AKA, if you’re going to do one DIY project that’s complicated, make it huge, and make it in advance. (See: our large-scale backdrops series.) So we asked Tabitha, the wedding designer behind Winston and Main in Los Angeles to come up with a massive and awesome seating chart (function meets neon glitter) that you can change at anytime. (Last minute family feud? Easy.) Here’s a supremely rad project to get your hands glittery for a weekend… and hammer out some of that pre-wedding stress.
- A 20 x 60 inch piece of 3/4-inch Birch Plywood from Anawalt or your local lumber yard, $15 (Tip: they’re much nicer about cutting wood than, say, Home Depot)
- Hot pink paint
- Mirror image photocopies of your guest list plus board title (I used “Find Your Seat”)
- Blender Marker, $3–$8
- Ballpoint glue pen, $3
- Fine gold glitter, $5 (also available at some Michaels)
- Colored cardstock
- 22” rubber bands
- Gold nails: large for numbers, small for names
- Painters tape
- Glue stick
1. Sand the face and edges of your sign to make it extra smooth (not pictured).
2. Paint the edges of your sign using whatever paint you like. If you want to match our chart, then hot pink acrylic paint is your go to!
3. You can hand-letter your board, but we chose to transfer our letters to take some of the pressure of getting things perfect. To do so, first tape off where you would like your title. Using the tape marks as a guideline, lay your Xerox face down and secure it with a few more pieces of tape. Remember, you need to have printed it in reverse for it to come out right when it transfers.
4.Use the blender marker to trace over the letters. Remove the Xerox to see your title transferred onto the wood like magic!
5. Repeat steps 3 through 4 to transfer your guests’ names in a row down the right side of your sign. We used the edge of the sign and edge of the paper to line them up. Pro tip: list names alphabetically to make it easy for people to find their names.
6.Trace over your title with glue pen and cover in glitter, one word at a time.
7. Do the same for your guest list, doing one word at a time for longer names, before covering with glitter and moving on to the next name.
8. Let your sign dry for a couple hours before lifting it up to dump off the excess glitter, to ensure that your names don’t run together in one massive illegible glitter glob.
9. Print off your table numbers onto coordinating colored cardstock and cut into triangle shapes (or whatever shape you like), then coat the numbers in glitter the same way you did your guests’ names.
10. Use a glue stick to attach the numbers, evenly spaced down the left side of the board. Your spacing will be determined by how many tables you have.
11. Now nail a large nail to the right of each number and a small nail to the left of each name.
12. Wait until just before your event to string your rubber bands from name to number. This makes it easy to deal with any last minute seating changes and it prevents your rubber bands from rotting and losing their elasticity. Pro tip: Color coordinate your numbers and rubber bands to make it extra easy for guests to find their seats!
We’re not gonna lie, the most time-consuming part of this project is glittering the names, so if you just don’t have the time, inclination, or a steady hand for that, you could still pull this off beautifully. Here are three ways:
1. Have a sign shop cut the numbers/names in vinyl and apply in one fell swoop.
2. Lay out your title and guest list in Illustrator/Photoshop/Picmonkey/a word-processing program (not mirrored) and have it printed at 20 x 60 inches (or whatever size wood you end up going with), then attach the paper to the plywood, and carry on. (Hint: you can get large prints made cheaply at most copy shops.)
3. You can still use the transfer method, but swap out the glue pen and trace your letters using a paint marker (test it on a piece of scrap wood first to make sure it doesn’t bleed.)
4. If you want to skip the transfer step altogether and just hand-write everything, go for it!
Tips & Tricks From Tabitha:
- This is a weekend project—it took about five hours from start to finish, with plenty of breaks in between. So do a little bit here and a little bit there, and it’ll be done before you know it. And it really won’t take up your whole weekend.
- If you want to use this transfer method of lettering, you have to use photocopies. Printing off your home printer won’t work.
- You can do this sign way ahead of time (as soon as you’re sure of your guest list) and then add the rubber bands a couple days before your event (or after the sign is already at your venue.)
- Play with the glue pen before you start in on your sign. I had good luck using my left hand to steady the pen, while writing with my right.
- Make sure you nail your nails down into your sign pretty far–the rubber bands add resistance and you don’t want any flying nails at your wedding!