Planning your wedding seating chart does not have to be overwhelming. Keep in perspective that deciding who is sitting where is just one small detail of many in your wedding. As long as you take some time and consideration in your planning, you’ll be able to make seating arrangements your guests will love. We’ve got the simple steps you need to take when planning who sits where and will make this task does not have to be stressful!
1. Learn the Floor Plan
First, before deciding who is sitting where you need to determine your floor plan and options. What types of tables do you want to have, and how will they be arranged in your reception space? The venue you have chosen and the available tables they have for you to use will determine the possibilities of arrangement.
We recommend asking the venue event manager what works best for weddings with your guest count as part of your walkthrough. They may have a floor plan map with dimensions for you to use.
You want to consider what looks beautiful but also what functions the best when deciding your table arrangement. Take into account the location of the dance floor and music, the kitchen, the bar, the bathroom, and other areas such as the wedding cake table and the gift table. Think about how many tables and seats you will need for all your guests.
2. Decide on Table Shape and Arrangement
Long Rows Rectangle Tables
Long rectangular tables are well suited for more-squared-off spaces or even outdoor venues. This family-style option is a more casual floor plan and is great if you are serving a catered buffet meal. Usually, rectangular tables are able to seat anywhere from 4 to 10 guests.
EventUp customer, The Pines, has a rustic wedding elegance with long rectangular tables.
Round and Square Tables
Using round tables or square tables, or even a combination of the two will provide a more formal, intimate feeling. These are great for guests to enjoy conversations with one another. Typically with a standard size round table, you can seat 8 guests per table.
If you have a large space like an outdoor garden or even a backyard wedding, you can opt to arrange your buffet tables or the guest tables in a curved manner using serpentine-shaped tables. This can be a very dramatic and elegant look.
Arranging rectangular tables in a U-shape works in certain spaces and it can be very beautiful and dramatic. If you have a smaller guest list, this modern wedding reception seating arrangement is great for either indoor or outdoor events. Make sure you have the bride and groom in the middle to create this fun and unique seating style.
For a cocktail reception, you may use a venue’s bar area or an outdoor lounge. Keep in mind, that bar tables tend to be more compact and there may be limited seating as this type of reception encourages more standing and mingling for your guests. Lounge areas make for a relaxed or elegant atmosphere but consider your guests and the duration of the party when determining the number of available seats.
Mix it Up
If you can’t decide between all these amazing choices for tables and setup, opt to mix it up! A variety of table shapes and configurations can be stunning and offers flexibility for seating arrangements.
3. Choose a Seating Style
Once you know what tables you have and where they will be placed, you can then work on what seating style you would like. Here are some seating styles to choose from.
Informal open seating
The most casual of seating options is an open seating plan. You won’t specify where guests sit as they will choose their own table and seat. Keep in mind that you want to have plenty of seats. You don’t want your guests wandering or a couple of guests that can’t locate two seats together and find themselves having to split up. If you are going this route, there is no seating chart to do.
With assigned tables, guests are designated to a specific table but not their seats. For this arrangement, you can opt to display this on a seating chart without the need for seating place cards. You can number or name the tables to make a personal touch.
While a very common option, assigned seating will help each reception guest find their specific seat. You can opt to display a seating chart and use place cards at each table. This is considered a more formal option.
Seating Chart Tips
Before we continue to the next step in making your table and seating arrangements, let’s just go over some basic advice.
- Use age, relationship, and personal interests and experiences as a guide.
- Be mindful of the special circumstances of the individual guest.
- Ask parents for help.
- Encourage mingling.
- Don’t play matchmaker.
- Don’t overcrowd your tables.
- Use a whiteboard or post-it notes to help.
- There’s an app for that. (Use digital solutions that make seating charts.)
- Consider who is sitting near things like lighting, heating or cooling, speakers, and restrooms.
- Do your best but don’t overthink it.
- Make or purchase table cards, place cards, and a seating guide for guests. Be creative and add a personal touch. It will make your table look more elegant and your guests will feel special.
4. Determine Where the Bride and Groom Will Sit
Another early decision to make once you’ve determined your basic floor plan and the table setup, is whether you will have a wedding party table, also called a bridal table or head table. There isn’t a right or wrong decision here. It’s simply personal preference.
The wedding party table is usually a designated table in a front and center location at the reception. It can be at a long rectangular table or a circular table. The bride, the groom, and all of the attendants sit here. Sometimes the parents of the bride and groom do as well. Seating traditionally alternates boy-girl, but you don’t have to follow this tradition. If someone within your wedding party has a date, they may want to sit with them at one of the guest tables.
An alternative would be to set up a sweetheart table for just the bride and groom. Also, the bride and groom can sit at any centered table with the guests.
EventUp customer Milltown arranges elegant square tables with a grand, centered wedding party table.
5. The Parents of the Bride and Groom and a Table of Honor
Sometimes, as previously mentioned the bride and groom have their parents sit with them at the head table. Alternatively, the parents can be at a nearby table to the wedding party table – a table for guests of honor. Sometimes, you may opt to sit with close relatives, family friends, and the wedding officiant at these tables.
If the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents get along, you could choose to have them sit together at the same table. But don’t stress out if you don’t have to sit them all together. They all should be at tables close by to the wedding party.
If your parents are divorced, you can place them at different tables of honor with their spouses. If everyone gets along, you could opt to have everyone at the head table.
6. Where to Sit your Single Guests
It’s best to sit single relatives and friends close to friends or family. Do not try to fix people up at your wedding. Instead, try to make all of your guests enjoy the day with no pressure. If the single person does not know anyone, sit them near guests that share common interests.
7. Kid Seating
If you have children at your reception either seat them at a table with their parents or at a closeby table with other family members. Alternatively, you could opt to have a kid table. Just make sure the location is good and that there are adults around them to help when needed. Kids love to be with kids and their parents will enjoy the day too!
8. Wedding Vendors
Your photographer, videographer, musicians, DJs, and any other wedding helpers will need a place to sit, eat, and take necessary breaks. They also need to be close by so as not to miss anything, so don’t sit them in another room. Many wedding couples opt to have a special table within the reception area amongst the guests.
Pretty easy, right? Ready to plan your wedding reception seating chart?
Now, you know how to organize your wedding floor plan and where to sit all of your guests. Are you still searching for the perfect wedding venue or even a late-night party spot? The EventUp venue directory can help with that too! We have more than 15,000 venues from barns to gardens and bowling alleys to unique bars. Find the perfect location for all of your wedding needs. Start browning venues today!