Creating a seating plan for your wedding reception

Who sits where?

Once you have your definitive guest list, you can start to plan the seating plan for your wedding reception. This is potentially one of the most daunting tasks whilst planning your wedding!

Firstly, you need to think about whether you want a head table. Traditionally, the head table consists of the bride and groom, the bride’s parents, the groom’s parents, the best man and chief bridesmaid, and perhaps groomsmen and bridesmaids.

Then you need to think about your table arrangements. Ask your venue for information on the tables that are available – the shape: circular, oblong, square, or half circle, measurements and numbers each table can seat.

Tables can be set out in different ways: in a circle, in an E-shape, as one long table, in a horseshoe and in a zig-zag, for example.


Start creating the plan

- Give yourself at least a week to prepare the seating plan. Take a large sheet of paper and draw out the proposed table plan. This could be done in consultation with your venue managers, or you can devise your own plan. Print out or write out a list of the names of confirmed guests on squares of paper so that you can move them around your table plan. Sit down together and get started!

- Ask both sets of parents if they have any thoughts on the table plan before you start. Take their opinions into account, but the final decision is obviously yours.

- Think about who would like to sit together. Perhaps people who share the same interests, or went to the same school.

- Avoid creating a table just for singles. Consider putting small groups of singles with couples (why not try a little discreet matchmaking?).

- Seat people according to their special needs. For example, seniors should sit in well-lit areas away from the noise of speakers or the band, but where they can see the bride and groom clearly.

- You could organize a supervised separate table for children away from the main tables, giving the parents a chance to enjoy the occasion and allowing the children to eat at their own pace. Arrange an entertainer to keep them amused during the rest of the meal and the toasts.

- Seat teenagers together. They, and their parents, will appreciate it.

- There may be family feuds, divorced couples, or people who cannot stand the sight of one another, so be aware of this when arranging the seating plan. Make sure they are far away from one another, and are not within each other’s sight.

- Many couples name their tables instead of numbering them, which adds a nice personal touch. How about names of your favorite flowers, places that mean something to you both, or characters from your favorite movies?

Most couples post up a table plan at the entrance to the reception so that guests can find out where they are sitting on their way in. It may be a good idea to put names on cards and paste them onto the table plan so that you can make any changes that may occur at the last minute.

Once you have decided on the final draft of the table plan, congratulations!


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