How To Seat Guests At A Wedding Reception


The seating chart is likely one of the last things to do on your wedding planning list and now you’re asking yourself why you waited to the last minute. Yes! This is a tedious process but here are tips on how to make it simple and a success in the end.

First, understand that not all wedding receptions need a seating chart for their guests. Casual receptions that are less formal and offer buffet-style dinner or a smaller guest list don’t necessarily need assigned seats. On the other hand, if your guest list consists of 100 or more guests, it may be best to devise a plan on where to seat guests. It helps the guests to know where they should sit and avoid them wandering around looking for a table. This is also best when serving a choice of entrees as it helps the servers better identify the location of the guest. Follow these tips on how to develop the perfect plan to seat guests during the wedding reception.

1. Early Preparation

You will be surprised at the number of brides and grooms that find themselves preparing the seating chart the night before or the morning of the wedding. Don’t get caught unprepared because there are many other things that you have to accomplish during the hours leading up to the wedding. Try to have the seating chart prepared at least two weeks before the wedding. The pressures of the wedding will add up as the day approaches and this is one less thing to worry about when it is taken care of well before the wedding day.

2. Spreadsheet Magic

Develop a spreadsheet that categorizes those invited by their relationship to the couple. Use categories such as the bride’s friend, bride’s family, groom’s family, groom’s friend, a friend of the family and well, you get the idea. This helps you to better develop a seating chart for the tables by placing people that have a relationship with the bride or groom instead of placing them among complete strangers. Once you have the spreadsheet complete, seat guests according to familiarity and common interests.

3. Paper Creativity

Don’t be afraid to pull out the big boards or posters and get creative with seating arrangements. Draw circles to represent tables and write the names in order to see how many people can be accommodated comfortably. Sticky notes work great too and can be fun if the bride and groom are working together on this task. This can be a great time to involve the wedding party or bridesmaids in the planning part as they can help with the creation of the seating charts.

4. Head Table Arrangements

The head table is important to the layout of the reception space. There can be dual tables used to separate the space if the wedding party is a large one and remember to accommodate space in the center for the bride and groom. If the couple prefers their own space, create a couple’s table with special centerpieces that is near the wedding party. The smaller children of the wedding party can be seated with their parents and guardians to avoid too much fuss at the head table. Also, consider adding a children’s table that could be overseen by a host or hostess to help occupy the children and keep them in order and entertained during the reception.

5. Contemporary Seating

There are no rules that must be followed during the plans to seat guests at the wedding reception. Contemporary and modern-day seating allows for the bridesmaids to be seated on one side while the groomsmen are on the adjacent side if the couple prefers. If you want to give your wedding party a bit more freedom, allow them to sit at the guest tables with their significant others or family and design a sweetheart table for the couple. Another option to consider is to have seating for the parents alongside the bride and groom.

6. Parent Seats

Traditional arrangements place the parents of the bride and groom at the same table. Other immediate family members such as siblings, grandparents, and children will be seated here as well. This is a perfect place for the ceremony officiant as well. If parents are divorced or otherwise single, you may want to provide separate seating arrangements for them and their guest. This can call for more involved planning but ensure a peaceful reception for all. This is a flexible seating arrangement that is best created by what you think is best. Use your best judgment because you know how your parents get along if they are no longer together and you want to make the environment comfortable for them also.

7. Tension Tamer

There are always one or more people on the guest list that aren’t exactly friendly towards each other. Be careful not to place them at the same or nearby tables. This applies to family members especially. Misunderstandings or fallouts may have happened years ago and they may not have seen each other since but you don’t want your wedding reception to be the place they decide to hash it out. Create a seating chart that places them with people that won’t bring up the altercation or with someone who has no knowledge it ever happened.

8. Matchmaker

Weddings are the perfect setting for romantic encounters and you have the perfect chance to seat guests who are single among those who they may be interested in getting to know. Also, remember to sit old college and high school friends together so they can reminisce and really enjoy the company during the reception. There may be a few guests who don’t know anyone other than the couple, seat these guests among those who you think they may have something in common with and can enjoy socializing.

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