Finding Your Seat (At the Wedding)

Well, our wedding date is coming up very soon. All the replies are in and now it is time to figure out where folks will be sitting at the reception.

We had great hope for the Bridal Toolkit from Bed, Bath and Beyond (BB&B) — it includes a guest list manager (which allows for uploads from a spreadsheet) and a seating chart builder application that reads from that data. Unfortunately, their default spreadsheet template doesn’t allow you to upload all the fields (eg: group names for a set of guests). It appears to be built around the idea that you’re fully bought in to their complete tool set and therefore would be building the list through their site’s screens. Problem is, we had our own wedding site – thank you very much – so we had our own collected database to work from.

After the first upload to BB&B, we were able to see our guests and then download the complete BB&B guest list spreadsheet (with all the columns, not just their starter set from the template). Sadly, the second attempt at uploading this expanded data resulted in duplicate guest names and still the additional fields were not accepted. And there was no way to simply wipe the slate clean in their tool and start again… you have to delete each guest one at a time, and that wasn’t working very quickly. Couple that with some other weirdness with their tool in real life use and that was it. Time to find another option!

After quite a bit of googling through many similar sites (that also want you chained to their site, to their advertising or direct revenue credit) and some shareware (on windows, not my primary platform) applications, I finally hit the jackpot.

Luckily another couple apparently had similar challenges about a year ahead of us, and as a result they created http://www.fluidtables.com/ . This is an incredibly (almost too) simple web application to do just this one part of wedding planning quickly and easily. It knows how to deal with uploaded guest lists, and even (gasp!) gives you the ability to wipe the list clean and start over. That, coupled with some tweaking of what data I uploaded (think embedded unique codes for later spreadsheet data merge), got me very close to the finish line – in no time.

Thanks, Chris @ http://www.fluidtables.com/!

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