Reception seating plan

Drawing up a seating plan for your wedding reception might seem a simple task until you actually sit down to do it. Suddenly all sorts of questions spring to mind. Should you mix the two families? How do you cope with family feuds? Where do you seat children? Do you really need to assign seats or can you just assign tables?

seating plan

Here are the answers to a few of the common questions you might have about drawing up your wedding seating plan.

Can I mix the bride and groom’s families?

Generally mixing the two families on your reception seating plan is fine, and as you are probably hoping your families will be meeting up frequently in the future, you want to get them socialising as early as possible.

Making sure you have people with similar interests, or of a similar age group on the same table is often more important than keeping family groups together. If you do want to split up the two families you might want to consider a recent trend in wedding seating, which is a couple of large, banquet styles tables, rather than many smaller round tables.

How should I cope with family disputes?

Most brides find there are sensitive family issues to consider when they are planning their wedding. Perhaps you are inviting a divorced couple and their new partners, or an uncle and aunt that haven’t said a civil word to each other for twenty years. Keeping the two parties as far from each other as possible in the seating plan will make life easier, but make sure they are an equal distance from the top table so it doesn’t look like you are taking sides.

Where do I seat children?

If you are inviting children to your wedding, you might want to consider a special children’s table for the older kids. Providing activities such as colouring on that table may keep the children entertained longer than listening to their parents’ conversations, and you can have children’s food served there. Babies and toddlers should stay with their parents, and you need to make sure there is room at the parents’ table for a high chair or similar.

Do I need to assign seating?

Assigning seating avoids a number of embarrassing situations such as guests causing offence by saving seats, an inappropriate dash for the ‘best seats’, the last guests to arrive having to sit in leftover single seats, and hard of hearing guests being seated where they cannot hear the speeches. One option to make your task a little easier is just to assign tables and let your guests decide for themselves where on that table they will sit.

seating plan

Can I split up groups of friends?

Yes it is fine to split groups of friends over several tables. They will have plenty of time to mingle and socialise after the meal and on the dance floor, they don’t necessarily have to sit together. If the members of the group are fairly outgoing and sociable, putting a couple on each table will improve the overall atmosphere of your reception, rather than having one raucous table amongst a load of quiet ones.

Do couples need to sit together?

Couples do not necessarily have to sit next to each other, but they should be placed on the same table. Traditionally only engaged couples should sit next to each other, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Consider the situation of each couple; those with young children, or those who spend most of the week apart because of work commitments might prefer to sit together.


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Where do I seat guests with special needs?

When you are drawing up your seating plan you will need to assign extra space for any disabled or pregnant guests. These may also need to be placed closer to the bathroom facilities. You will need to place those that are hard of hearing, or have poor eyesight near to the top table. You will also need to identify where guests with special dietary needs are seated so that the waiting staff can find and serve them easily.

There are many considerations to take into account when you are writing your wedding seating plan, but don’t forget that it is your special day and ultimately you should arrange it the way you want. To some extent you will restricted by the size and shape of your venue and the seating arrangements they offer, but if you have very specific ideas about how you want to arrange your reception many venues are willing to compromise.


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