Wedding Reception Seating Charts

bridal shower invitation
Creating a reception seating chart is often seen as one of the more stressful parts of planning your wedding, but you can minimize your stress by keeping in mind a few ground rules for successful seating arrangements.

Do You Need a Seating Chart?

A seating chart isn't a necessary part of every wedding. For a small wedding with fewer than 50 guests or very casual affair that doesn't include a full meal at the reception, it's fine to allow guests to sit wherever they wish. If your wedding is larger and more formal, however, a seating chart is necessary.

Seating charts help ensure that everyone has a place to sit without giving them unpleasant high school cafeteria flashbacks where they are desperately looking for a friendly face in the crowd. If you don't want to assign specific seats, it's OK to simply assign tables for guests and let them choose their own seat within the designated table.

Creating Your Seating Chart

To make your seating chart, you'll need to have RSVPs returned and information about how many tables you'll have available. For a 6' x 30" rectangle table, you'll want six to eight people per table. A round 60" table can seat six to 10 people. You should leave 60" or more between tables to allow for people to comfortably pull out their chairs and walk between the tables.

The ideal seating chart ensures that each table has a mixture of people who know each other and people who share a common interest. For example, you could pair your aunt and uncle with your parent's friends and two of your co-workers who all share a mutual passion for gardening. However, you should consider the personalities of your guests as well. If you know for a fact that one of your guests isn't comfortable talking to new people, be considerate and place him or her with lots of friendly familiar faces.

As a general rule of thumb, it's better to place younger guests by the dance floor and older guests towards the back of the reception area. Seniors often have trouble hearing in crowded rooms and may struggle to converse when they're next to loud music.

To avoid conflict, try to place people with a negative past history as far away from each other as possible. This includes former spouses or romantic partners as well as people who are feuding for reasons you don't really understand.
free printable charts  has additional tips on creating a seating chart, as well as free printable charts you can use to guide the process.

Members of the Wedding Party

It's common for the bride and groom to sit in the center of the head table with the wedding party members. However, you can also have a small "sweetheart" table for the bride and groom and then have members of the wedding party at a nearby table.

The spouses or significant others of the members of your wedding party can sit at the head table or they can be assigned seating with other guests they know. Either way is acceptable, as long as you're consistent.

Bride and Groom's Parents

If the bride and groom's parents are friendly with each other, they can sit at a separate table that is close to members of the wedding party. If the bride and/or groom's parents have divorced and/or remarried, each parent and spouse should be given their own table with seatmates they would enjoy speaking with during the meal.

Close Friends

Sit close friends you speak to on a daily basis near to the head table. Casual acquaintances can sit towards the back of the room.

Singles

Don't create a singles table for all your unattached guests. This is likely to cause embarrassment and hurt feelings. Singles should be seated with people they know. If your cousin Bob is single, sit him with other family members. If your coworker Jane is single, sit her with other colleagues you've invited to the wedding.

Your wedding is not an appropriate time to play matchmaker, so resist the urge to try to fix up your single guests. However, if you genuinely believe two people have a common interest, it's acceptable to sit them at a table with other guests who they would enjoy speaking with as long as the table is a mixture of single and married people. If they don't feel as though they are being thrown together, they may hit it off on their own terms.

Children

If your wedding reception will have several young guests, creating a separate kids table is the best choice. Children ages 7 to 14 can be seated at a separate table in the same room. Children under age 7 should be seated in a different room, since they are likely to want to sit with their parents if Mom and Dad are within eyesight and earshot.

To make sure everything runs smoothly, pay a few responsible teens to act as babysitters for the night. You may also want to include some activities, such as puzzles or coloring books and crayons.

If the ring bearer and flower girl are the only children present, they should be seated with their parents.

Your Parent's Friends

If your parents have invited their friends to your wedding, it's perfectly acceptable to ask for their advice as to where these guests should be seated. Your parents will likely be happy to help.

Letting Everyone Know Where to Sit

Once you have created the perfect seating chart, you need a way to easily let guests know where to sit during the reception. There are a few different methods to accomplish this goal.

Escort cards and place cards are the most common ways of letting guests know where to sit at your wedding. Escort cards contain each guest's name on the outer envelope and their table number on the card inside. They are used in the most formal seating plans. Place cards are tented cards that can be used alone or with escort cards. They include each guest's name and table number. Traditionally, they are displayed near the entrance of the reception area.

You may also wish to display your seating chart in a pretty frame near the entrance of the reception. List each guest's name alphabetically so it's easy for people to quickly learn where they should sit.

Our Wedding Place Cards article has links to place card templates you can use to easily let guests know where they should set. You can also design your own custom cards using our wide assortment of wedding backgrounds and clip art.


Written by: The Printable Wedding Team