I've been a steadfast Aisle Planner user since day one of starting my wedding planning business three years ago. As a CRM, the platform helps me keep track of each of my leads and clients with an incredible level of detail and the rich suite of planning, communication, and collaboration tools help me take my clients through every single step of their wedding planning process. I honestly don’t know how I could run my business or guide my clients without this amazing platform!
But my favorite tool built into Aisle Planner? The Layout & Seating Feature, for sure! I’ll admit, when I first started using Aisle Planner, I was just coming off a 10-year career where using CAD (computer-aided drafting) software was a big part of my daily work, so I was pretty skeptical about this particular Aisle Planner tool delivering on my expectations. But delivered, it has!
Today, I’m doing a deep dive into Aisle Planner’s Layout, Guest List, and Seating Tools and showing you how I use them with my clients. Let’s get started!
Before I even touch the Layout Tool in any individual project, I always start with venue templates. You can get to these from your Aisle Planner settings, by clicking on “Templates,” then on “Layouts.” Why start with a template? So if you ever work in a venue twice, you’re not having to redraw it every time.
Depending on the venue, I often start with a map, a screenshot from Google Earth, or (in an ideal world) a scale drawing provided by the venue. To load it in, just click on “Draw” and then on “Image.” Once it’s in, I click on “Set Image Scale” in the Shapes menu and draw a line between two points whose real-world distance I know (though your closest guess is usually okay here).
Once the scale is set, I highlight the image and put a checkmark next to “Locked” so that when I bring it into a project, I can’t accidentally move it around.
I also love to upload a key of each venue’s inventory in venue templates, as seen in the screenshot below, so I can just drag and drop the items once they’re in a project.
While I don’t use it nearly as frequently, the object template is wonderful for drawing things you use all the time but aren’t included in Aisle Planner’s default object library, like these 5’x6’ oval tables, or flatware and other place setting items you may use frequently.
Designing Your Layout
Still with me? Good! Because now is the fun part! Once our templates are built, it’s time to start working with our clients on designing the layout within their project!
Since I’ve already created a template of the venue, I simply drag and drop it into the client’s project from the Venues menu. And since the drawing is already to scale, the things I drag into it from the object library just fit the way they do in real life!
So let’s get to it! Start dragging items from the library and placing them where you’d like within your venue. These can include tables (with chairs or without), specialty furniture, ceremony seating arrangements, A/V equipment, plants, and more!
If what you’re looking for isn’t already in the library, you can always use the drawing tools to create just about anything you can imagine! Remember to draw it as an object template if it’s something you think you’ll be using in multiple projects.
Shape, Style, & Canvas
Once you’ve started bringing tables, chairs, and more into your project, the Shape, Style, and Canvas menus give you some versatile tools to change the shape, size, color, line weight, and functionality of your layout.
With these tools, you can change the number of chairs set around a table, set the width of the aisle for your ceremony, change the color of tables to represent your client’s linen choice, and more! The possibilities are just about endless here!
I always recommend turning on “Show Service Areas” in the Canvas menu. It really helps to find the areas where you may want to add some breathing room, like in the layout below:
One of my favorite things about the Layout Tool is the ability for you or your couples to assign seating for their guests. It’s as easy as dragging a name from the Guests menu to any guest table or chair. Once guests are assigned to a table, you can print out seating charts, toggle on colored indicators to show which meals go to who (planners: your caterers will love you for this), determine the number of chairs you need at each table, and download your layout and guest list (with meal selections and seating assignments) as a PDF.
Personally, I like using it specifically to keep track of where people with special dietary restrictions are seated, as shown below. Seating assignments in Aisle Planner are seriously a game changer!
Making it Real
The most satisfying thing for me about using the Aisle Planner Layout & Seating Tool is seeing it all come together on the wedding day. Here’s a sampling of just a few of the Aisle Planner layouts I’ve created and how they’ve been transformed from lines on a screen to beautiful celebrations!
There are so many great things about the Layout & Seating tool that I just don’t have time to touch on all of them in this blog post. Be sure to check out Aisle Planner’s excellent Layout & Seating Tools Help Center to learn how to use these tools.
And if you want a special learning session on how to use this powerful tool, join me for a live webinar on Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 at 1:30pm EST / 10:30am PST. I’ll be walking you through every little feature the Layout & Seating Tool has to offer and taking your questions along the way! Registration for the webinar is open. You can register here. I can’t wait to see you there!
Hero photo courtesy of Tiny Mum Photography