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The How-To Lounge: Seating Your Guests

Figuring out where to seat the guests at your wedding is not a small task and can be a source of a lot of anxiety, but I'm here to offer some helpful tips on how to map out your reception seating. 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. To see my tips, click here to

  • Don't start this project until you have received all your RSVP cards. It'd be a real shame to have every table perfected before you know who is really coming.
  • Know before starting the seating chart that it could take a few tries, so try not to get too flustered!
  • Since there will be guests at your wedding that you don't know very well (parents, friends, or new inlaws) you'll need to ask for help from relatives when it comes to finding a place for them to sit.
  • Be sure that every person has a place card. Even if you pick out who you want at what table, it's best to assign them a proper seat as well.
  • Regardless of the shape of your table, I always recommend sitting boy/girl. It looks clean and can aid in good chit chat. One thing to remember is that a rectangular table is best for conversation, space, and viewing the bride and groom and the dancefloor.
  • There is usually a head table at every wedding. This typically consists of wedding party and their guests only, but some couples opt to include their parents as well. While there are no strict rules, space is always something to consider.
  • You should seat other family and close friends near the head table so they don't feel left out.
  • People disagree on whether or not you should sit couples and close friends together. I happen to feel that you should never split up couples — you want your guests to have fun and to feel comfortable, so why separate them from their loved ones?
  • Since there will presumably be single people attending your wedding, it's always fun to have a few singles tables. This is your time to play matchmaker so seat "like people" together.
  • If you choose not to have a sit down dinner, or if the meal isn't a big part of your reception, you should still make sure there are plenty of tables and chairs for people to sit down, but in this circumstance, place cards aren't necessary.
  • It's inevitable that some people won't show, and even though it's in poor form, sometimes guests bring uninvited dates so always prepare for the unexpected. Make sure you have a few extra chairs and place cards on hand.
  • Know that your guests will be moving around throughout the night, but don't think this is because you haven't done a good job with the seating assignments. They're probably just being social, which is a good thing!


Join The Conversation
Happsmjc Happsmjc 9 years
I've been to both and seen both work very well. Where I live I have been to a wedding with over 700 guests (too big if you ask me) and it was all seat yourself and there was no problem. Most of the time I've just been assigned a table and not an exact seat. There isn't that much time spent at the tables anyway because everyone should be on the dance floor! Also, I've never heard of assigned seats at a ceremony??? I'm confused as to why that's needed?
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
Definitely going to have assigned seating for my wedding lol
abqmama abqmama 9 years
I have NEVER been to a wedding that has pre-assigned seats. I guess in this part of the country it just isn't done. I have a huuuge, very friendly family so it has never been a problem. I think people would be offended here if there were assigned seats, at least in my very large family.
emalove emalove 9 years
Geeksugar, I totally agree! I've only been to one wedding that was "seat yourself" and it did NOT go over well. It makes things chaotic and can cause issues that wouldn't arise if you had a pre-planned seating arrangement. My hubby and I had a bit of a hard time doing the seating arrangement for our wedding last summer, but we eventually got it just right and everything was fine.
Tech Tech 9 years
I can't stress enough how important it is to have pre-assigned seating--I keep hearing some people say they want to be less formal and let people seat themselves, but it can be a total disaster! Case in point, I was recently at a wedding where there was no assigned seating, and by the time I got there, all the tables were already staked out! There were a few random seats, but the group I was with didn't know anyone else there and we wanted to sit together. It was so awkward! So don't stress out your guests, and just assign them somewhere. Also, geek note: there's a lot of really great software and websites that will help you organize your seating chart!
psychobabble psychobabble 9 years
I hear you almost famous. I'm starting to work on seating for my wedding now and keeping the various family members apart that don't get along is insane! We've decided to use my family as a buffer between the two sides of his family that will NOT play nicely together.
almost-famous almost-famous 9 years
I know for my own sake that I want my wedding to be classy and elegant. For that reason, I know I will NOT sit my mother and cousin together during the ceremony, because they talk too much. My mother and her mother talk too much and my cousin and her mother don't really get along. Two of my uncles don't like each other and my father can't stand my mother's friend. Whew...! lol As a result they WILL be assigned seat during the ceremony!
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