How to Make the Seating Chart for a Wedding Reception

5 of 11 in Series: The Essentials of Planning a Wedding Reception

Putting a lot of thought into the seating chart is a good way to make your guests feel special and comfortable. Organizing a seating chart is also an efficient way to avoid confusion and a multitude of mealtime mishaps.

Seating the wedding party

There are several traditional options to choose from when seating your bridal party. One is a rectangular head table, where the bride and groom sit in the center and face the reception hall. Sometimes the table is round, but the bride and groom still sit together with the attendants wrapping around on either side.

Very large bridal parties often use two large round tables instead of one big rectangular one, with the bride, groom, maid of honor and best man at one table and the rest of the party at the other. In another arrangement, the bride and groom sit by themselves at what’s called a “sweetheart table,” and the rest of the bridal party sits at tables near them.

When seating the bridal party, think about whether their dates would be more comfortable sitting together at one table or spread out at different tables with people they already know.

Parents and close family can be separated in different ways. Parents can be separated into two tables, putting the bride’s parents and her other close family at one and the groom’s parents and his close family at another. It is also acceptable to put all parents at the same table. When seating divorced parents and other family members, put some thought into who will be comfortable sitting with whom. It’s also an option to let divorced parents host their own tables with their close relatives. There are many options to choose from based on your particular circumstances.

Seating the guests

Although place cards are optional, assigning tables for a sit-down meal can be quite beneficial. Even with a buffet dinner, unless you’re lucky enough to have a group of people who all know and love one another, you should assign tables. Otherwise, the seating will be uneven and those who don’t know anyone else will end up eating by themselves.

To compose a seating chart, take a large piece of poster board and sketch the floor plan with numbered tables. (The venue may provide a chart with the tables pre-numbered for you; be sure to check with your caterer.) Take a pad of self-adhesive notes and write the names of the confirmed guests, then place the names around the tables, trying to fill one table at a time. Take into account who guests may know at their tables and the tables closest to them.

By about a week before the wedding, your seating chart should be firm so you can make an official chart with names on it. A charming option is to frame your chart and display it on an easel. Guests enjoy seeing where everyone is sitting, and it makes for a great memento.

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The Essentials of Planning a Wedding Reception

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