Reception How To: Seating Charts

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Wedding tables are not created equal. Here’s how to prepare your seating chart without offending anyone



Today many couples come from families that are not necessarily what would be considered “traditional”. There are divorced parents with new partners, grandparents who are more like parents, cousins who are more like siblings and friends who are more like family. It can become near impossible to keep the family tree straight, let alone plan a seating chart for your wedding! However, there are some tricks you can use to keep everyone happy when it comes to deciding who sits where.

First, consider a cocktail-style reception. People are free to mingle with whoever they like and no-one is offended by where they’re placed on the seating chart — because there isn’t one! If a sit-down function is more your style, you will need a seating chart. This is one of the absolute last things you should do in preparation for your wedding. If you decide to do it too early, you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment (and probably a number of tantrums), because your guest list is likely to change right up until the week before your wedding.

Start by talking to the other people who have been involved in planning and paying for the wedding, and ask them if they have a table preference and who sits on it with them. Traditionally, the parents of the bride and groom sit at the bridal table along with other members of the bridal party. Many couples choose to break with tradition and have just the bride and groom and the bridal party on the bridal table, and seat their parents at the two next best tables with their families. 




If one or both sets of parents are divorced, you may need to have four separate “parent” tables, and they won’t all be able to have the best seat in the house. In this case it may pay to have “table names” rather than table numbers — that way the parent at table number four doesn’t feel too left out.

Table names can be anything from signifi cant dates or places, to favourite songs or even names of plants or animals. Think about what goes with your wedding style and what suits your personalities.

Try to put people from the same family together and obviously avoid putting those who you know don’t get along near each other. Friends who know each other should go on the same table and if they don’t all fit on one, then put two tables next to each other.

Always discuss your seating chart with your venue, as they may have a number of ways in which tables can be set up in the room and might just be able to solve your problem of “10 tables of eight is too many tables, but eight tables of 10 makes the tables too crowded"! Keep in mind that on the day there will always be someone who’s not 100 per cent happy with where they’re sitting. With any luck they’ll bite their tongue and be a gracious guest.

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