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The How-To Lounge: Seating at a Wedding

One of the fun, yet challenging jobs of preparing for your wedding is mapping out your seating assignments at your reception. Regardless of the kind of dinner you have, sit down, buffet, or station, you have to provide your guests with a place to sit and enjoy their meal and good company. I am here to help fill in any blanks and answer any questions you might have on seating etiquette.

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  • Before you start to map out tables, make sure you have the final guest list. You don't want to have the table perfected and then have a couple decline your invitation
  • This is not a task that should be done on your own. Enlist the help of your parents and future in laws. They will know how to best seat their friends and family members
  • Make sure your tables are clearly numbered and every guest has a place card that tells them exactly where they are seated. You don't want your guests to be wandering around aimlessly trying to find their place setting
  • The head table usually consists of the bridal party and their guests only. Obviously this is not a rule, but an easy starting ground
  • To avoid anxiety once your guests get to their assigned table, make sure to have personalized place cards at every seat
  • I always suggest seating in order of male/female. It looks clean and is typically better for conversation. If you decide to split up couples, make sure to seat them close to each other
  • If you choose not to have a sit down dinner and opt for buffet style or strictly passed foods, smaller tables without name tags is the best way to provide your guests with a place to eat, drink, and converse
  • Although it is poor form for guests to attend your wedding with an uninvited date, that situation is more common than not. Be prepared for extra seats at one of your tables as it is easier to remove place settings than to add them
  • Your family and close friends should be seated closest to the head table and I always advise to seat friends with friends to ensure they are comfortable
  • At every wedding, there is a "singles table". Try to seat "like people" at these tables to ensure good conversation and perhaps even a love connection!
  • Rectangular tables are best for conversation, space, and viewing the bride and groom and the dance floor

Since most of your guests will be playing a game of musical chairs, do the best you can with the seating arrangements, but rest assured that no matter who your best friend from college is sitting with, all your guests will have a great time at your wedding!


siouxsie siouxsie 10 years
assigned seating is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO gay. these are adults you're dealing with. it always ALWAYS pisses me off when someone tells me where to sit at a function. i always feel like "are we in first grade now?"
MrsJigglesworth MrsJigglesworth 10 years
We had stations and did not do assigned seating b/c I didn't want it to be too "stuffy". Everyone begged me to do place cards, but I was determined not to. Well, now that it is said and done, I wish I would have b/c we had some people sitting by themselves. With assigned seating only one or two no shows from certain tables would have been empty chairs instead of everyone filling tables and then the no shows' empty chairs being whole tables, and then that one loner that doesn't really know anyone has to sit at the empty table. I hope that makes sense :)
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
we had assigned seating and then one of my sil's decided to move some people (wtf?). i was so pissed. i had people travel hundreds of miles who wanted to sit together and she went and moved things. it takes a lot of time to figure out a seating arrangement (ex's and interests, etc) but i think it's an important part of the wedding. also, isn;t it cheaper to do a seated dinner than a buffet? with seated meals you control the portions.
katie225 katie225 10 years
but if the people are cliquey then they aren't going to enjoy themselves if they're not by their clique, right? i've just never been to a wedding with assigned seating, probably because it was all buffet. my family's just not rich enough to do the whole, "i ordered the beef plate." we're more of the "gimme some of that white stuff!" people. :) and everyone moved around about fifty times anyways because we're so friendly and love to dance, so assigned seating would just sort of be a waste of time and another thing to stress about. but i totally get it when you have the ordered food that's all brought out. that's more formal than most middle class people have anyways.
Marci Marci 10 years
Sweet C took the words right out of my mouth.
SWEET-C9363 SWEET-C9363 10 years
yes i agree. assigned seating is a must. people get too cliquey and god forbid you have some poor soul sittin by them self or what have u..
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
I helped my sister plan her wedding reception and we did assigned seating. It's quite difficult to make everyone happy, so you kind of have to go with what will make the majority satisfied. It ended up going well and people were comfortable being seated with people they knew and could chat with.
bfly1133 bfly1133 10 years
Assigned seating is usually done for one of two reasons, Katie. First, when people are having a seated dinner with two or more dinner options it is usually easier to make all the arrangements if there is assigned seating. Secondly, a lot of people assign seats to ensure that guests get to be next to people they know and to make it easy for the people at reserved tables. Then there are people who do it just because it's the traditional way to do it. :) More and more people are breaking away from assigned seating unless it is for honored guests.
LuckyGrl-83 LuckyGrl-83 10 years
I agree with you Katie... we just started planning our wedding and we are going back and forth on whether or not to assign seats. We are most likely going to have a buffet dinner so technically we won't have a sit-down dinner. My fiance still wants to assign the seating to avoid any chaos, but I'm against it since it kinda makes the whole thing too formal for what we are going for... so yeah... we're still negotiating that one... :rotfl: ------- :star: :star: :star:
katie225 katie225 10 years
my question is, and maybe this is just from someone who knows absolutely nothing about planning weddings since i've never planned one, but why do you need assigned seating? can't people just sit where they want to? don't they end up moving around anyways? i think it would be easier and less time consuming to just say, hey, here are some tables, sit!
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