Wedding 101

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  Wedding Reception Seating Etiquette  

Planning a formal seating plan for your wedding reception will help reduced your stress level. Simply providing enough tables and chairs for everyone and hoping for the best is not enough. It will create tension amongst guests to rush to find themselves the perfect table. If you are hosting a cocktail or buffet style reception, without formal seating ensure you designated section for elderly guests.

To get you started on creating a seating plan, get a copy of the floor plan with the dimensions of the reception area. Before starting to write names down, make several copies so that you can easily prepare and review several scenarios. If space is an issue, rectangular shaped table will save on space while round tables are best for conversation amongst guests. Knowing that you can sit 6 or 8 guests per table, you are ready to start creating your plan.

Bridal Table / Head Table
Traditionally, the bride and groom’s table is rectangular, elevated, and set apart in clear view of the other tables. The bride and groom usually sit in the middle, the best man next to the bride, and the maid of honor next to the groom. Next to the maid of honor and the best man, sit either their spouses, or bridesmaids and groomsmen alternating men and women. Other options include the seating of the bridesmaids on the maid of honor side, and the groomsmen on the best man side. The seating of both set of parents, and grand-parents at the head table is a lovely way to honor them. The flower girl and ring bearer usually sit with their parents.

Honour Table
The honour table set in close proximity of the head table is for parents, grandparents, and the ceremony officiant and spouse. If parents are divorced, you may need to designate separate honour tables.

Once the seating arrangement is finalized for the bridal and honour tables, break down your guest list into smaller groups by:

  • Close family members, such as brothers, sisters and their spouses.
  • Extended family members, such as aunts, uncles, and their spouses.
  • Friends and their spouses
  • Co-workers and their spouses
  • Guests in other categories, and their spouses
  • Single guests
Working your way from tables closest to the honour table to the furthest tables, start assigning tables with guests that should be seated the closest to the bridal and honour tables. Be considerate while assigning seats, especially with single guests. This might be for you an opportunity to play match maker! Keep in mind that you will never be able to please everyone.

Review your seating plan carefully to ensure that guests with conflicts are sitting far apart. Ask parents, in-laws, and closed friends to review it as they may notice a problem or know of a situation between guests that you are not aware of.

Once you are done, your next step is to decide on place cards, escort cards, and the style of your seating chart.


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Wedding Reception Seating Etiquette

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