Wedding reception seating can be a bit of a minefield. Here’s what to think about if you go for a seating plan…
Should you have a seating plan or not? If you do, who do you sit where? It sounds complicated, but just takes a little imagination and some careful planning.
The seating plan for the wedding breakfast is based on the idea of intermingling the two families, but many people organise their seating plans so that guests have familiar faces around them. The top table usually has the bride and groom in the centre, with the leading members of the wedding party flanking them. Whether you split the parents and put them with each other’s partner or not, is up to you. It’s less and less common to have a formal seating arrangement on top table, so go with what everyone will be happiest with.
It’s fairly crucial to have a top table, but the rest is up to you. If you’re having a relatively small wedding and your guests all know each other, you may feel that a seating plan is unnecessary and that they will be happy to sit where they please. Alternatively, you might decide to tell people which table they are on, but then leave it to them to choose where to sit on that table.
If, however, you’re having a larger wedding, it’s a good idea to tell people exactly where to sit. That way, people will be seated more quickly and you can be sure to separate any people who possibly won’t get on. It’s also a way of introducing people who know few other guests, and making sure they sit with a friendly, welcoming group.
Seating to suit
Sorting out the seating plan is not an easy task and requires tact and a good knowledge of the guests. It’s worth remembering that weddings can be a reunion for friends and relations who normally do not have an opportunity to meet, but is also where old enemies may come face to face again!
The layout of your tables is a personal choice. Some like the idea of an elongated top table, where extensions are added at either end, set at right angles to the top table. Guests can be seated on both sides of these side tables. Alternatively, individual round tables can be arranged for the guests. You should discuss the layout of the tables with the hotel staff or catering firm and agree the seating plan well in advance.
On the day, place the seating plan on an easel for the guests to see as they come in for the meal, and place corresponding place cards on the tables. If you’ve invited a lot of guests, set up several easels so that everyone can check their seat number easily without causing a crowd to build up.