In planning a wedding seating arrangement, it will help the wedding planner and the venue coordinators if you can provide additional information about the guests in terms of their relationship with the rest of the guests, their preferences, whether they smoke or not, special needs especially for the elderly members of the wedding entourage. Otherwise, here are some rules that you can follow.
- The head or top table is reserved for the bridal party. The best man sits beside the groom’s mother who is seated next to the bride’s father, and then the bride and groom followed by the bride’s mother, then the groom’s father before the maid of honor. If the parents are divorced, then you have to include the new spouses in the head table.
- You can opt not to use a head table and just have a special group of tables near the top and center of the venue where the bride and groom can have their own table surrounded by the bridal party in their own tables.
- People have a tendency to group together as they feel safer and comfortable that way, but this prevents them from mingling with other guests. To create a balance, mix guests who have common interests and may know some people in the group.
- Do not assign a separate table for single guests. Mix them with some older people they may know and some teens. It is not a good idea to announce to the rest of the guests that they are single especially at a wedding reception. Whether you are using a round or a rectangular table, the rule is to alternately sit a man and a woman.
- Children should sit with their parents and this should be taken into consideration. Older children can sit together with single guests and some guests who came alone. Others prefer to have all the children grouped in one table. If this is the case make sure that there is someone of authority to look after them. They should also be provided with some toys and games to keep them from getting bored and noisy.
- Be considerate of the elderly. Provide them with a table away from the music source or near the kitchen/pantry.
- From the head table, the next tables should be assigned to close family and friends of the bride and groom.
- Add extra tables and seats for unexpected guests who may also want to be seated. Do not forget to assign tables for all those who helped.
- Do not place tables too close to each other that people walking around or finding seats will bump into chair backs or worse, a table.
- You have a choice of just assigning a table to a group of guests or assigning a table and an exact seat for each guest. Assign a number for each table or a name that fits the wedding theme. Name cards should be printed legibly and placed near the table napkin or on the plate of each table setting. Print out a master seating plan and post it near the entry so that guests can refer to it or as a reference for the ushers and usherettes on where to lead the guests.
It takes careful planning to come up with a seating arrangement for a wedding reception that will make all the guests feel at ease and encourage conversation. Who knows, some may even find their mate through the thought you placed on your wonderful seating arrangement.