The great thing about seating charts (trust us, they’re not all bad!) is that, beyond the basic rules about where to seat your immediate families, you’re free to mix things up as much as you want. If your cousin is shy and would be more comfortable sitting with her parents, but you know she’ll love your fiancé’s sister, seat her with family and make a point to introduce the two of them during cocktail hour. On the other hand, if you’ve got relatives who are the life of the party (or who have even met some of your friends before), there’s no rule saying they can’t all sit together. Mix the tables up based on personalities and common interests, regardless of how you’re related. Just make them promise you’ll hear all the hilarious stories during your morning-after brunch!

If you’re having a more formal event, or think older relatives might be confused by the splitting up of families, consider keeping your family members together but placing a table full of cousins and younger relatives next to the table where your college pals are seated. Even if they’re not all sitting together, there’s no way the laughter and fun won’t spread between tables — be prepared for a little seat-swapping!

by Jaimie Schoen