An Essential Guide To Wedding Seating Chart Etiquette

Wedding seating chart etiquette can often be a challenging task for soon-to-be newlyweds. With so many guests to consider and various factors to take into account, it can be difficult to know where to start. But, having a well-planned seating chart ensures that your guests are comfortable and also helps set the tone for a memorable and enjoyable event.

Make sure that your reception is perfectly thought-out with our below guide to wedding seating chart etiquette.

Key Points To Keep In Mind

When it comes to starting your seating plan, there are a few important points you have to take into account to avoid any faux pas. These main points are the size of your wedding, the dinner style, the number of guests, and the number of tables available. For example, if you have a table that’s too big, it can be difficult for guests to talk. It’s also important to consider your guests’ comfort, your relationship with guests, and the relationship between different guests. You don’t want any feuding ex-partners sitting together! Similarly, you’ll also want to give your guests the opportunity to meet new people. A final factor to consider is where to seat close family members that aren’t part of the wedding party.

The Head Table

A lot of couples choose to have a head table where they will sit, in a location that is visible to all guests. A head table symbolizes the central focus of the wedding and makes it easy for guests to find the happy couple. This might be a sweetheart table for just the couple or a longer table for the wedding party. Some couples choose to forego a head table and have a table one.

The Wedding Party

The wedding party will usually be with the bride and groom at the head table. Traditionally, the groom is seated to the bride’s right, the best man to the bride’s left, and the maid of honor to the groom’s right with families seated at other tables. If you have more space, another popular option is to have the bride’s family on one side and the groom’s on the other. In this case, the maid of honor will be with the bride’s family and the best man with the groom’s family. If you’ve chosen to have a sweetheart table for just the two of you, make sure you seat the wedding party tables nearby to honor their importance. Depending on the size of your wedding party, you can have them all on one table, separate the bride’s party and groom’s party, or mix and match them on different tables.

Where To Seat Your Family

There are different options when it comes to seating family. One is to have each set of parents head their own table with their relatives. Another is to have both sets of parents opposite each other on the same tables with grandparents and close friends. But when seating family members, make sure to consider their relationships with each other. For example, you may want to seat siblings together or separate parents and their adult children.

wedding seating chart etiquette
Photography: Carrie Lavers

Where To Sit Children?

This can be a difficult subject for couples, do you sit children with their parents or do you have a separate kids’ table? There are pros and cons to both. If you seat parents and children together, it can avoid any issues with children misbehaving if their parents aren’t around. It also depends on the age of the child, as some might not be used to being separated from their parents. However, you may want your friends to be able to enjoy themselves and sit with other adults so a kids’ table works well if you have several attending, as you can leave activities to keep them entertained. It also makes it easier for your servers. But make sure not to put this table too far from the adults, just in case!

Where To Sit Guests With Special Requirements

Consider the needs of your guests when it comes to seating. If you have guests with mobility issues, for example, you may want to reserve seats near the key setups such as serving tables, exits, or restrooms. If you have guests who are hard of hearing, consider seating them in a location where they can see and hear the speeches easily. For example, don’t sit any elderly guests right next to the DJ or any babies with pushchairs right in front of the dancefloor.

How To Deal With Tricky Relationships

One of the hardest aspects to navigate when creating your seating chart will be tricky relationships. For example, if you have divorced parents you’ll need to think carefully about how to separate them. They’ll still need to be at one of the top tables with family, but you don’t want to have to worry about them feeling uncomfortable or you not enjoying yourself. One option is to mix the bride and groom’s families across different tables so that the separation isn’t as obvious. Another option is to have each of your parents head their own table with close relatives and friends.

wedding seating chart etiquette
Photography: Brandon Kidd

Popular Types Of Seating Styles

Rectangular Tables

Rectangular tables are a great option if you’re having a large outdoor wedding. You can seat 4 to 10 guests per table. So it’s useful for accommodating lots of people without having them too far apart.

Round Tables

This wedding seating arrangement is one of the most popular choices for a classic and formal style wedding. Each table usually fits 8 guests, but you can also opt for smaller tables for an intimate wedding or larger depending on your guest list.


If you’re looking for a stylish option, this one is for you. The trendy serpentine style involves curved tables that weave around your venue. It’s perfect for giving an outdoor event a fun aesthetic.

Lounge Seating

This is the ultimate option for a relaxed and casual wedding as it allows guests to mingle a lot more. Couples going for a boho or rustic style will love this seating style.

Family Style

Couples love this option for an informal wedding. It involves seating guests at a few long tables. It’s also great for a buffet-style dinner as your guests can move around with ease, and it makes organizing tables much more straightforward.

U Shaped

Another popular and modern seating style is a U-shaped table. This is where the head table connects two parallel tables. It’s unique and adds intimacy, as everyone can see each other.

wedding reception
Photo: Royal Studio

Dos & Don’ts For Wedding Seating Chart Etiquette

1. Don’t overfill tables

Avoid putting as many people as possible on one table. It’ll make it hard for your guests to eat and talk comfortably. You’ll also find that it gives your overall aesthetic a crowded look, especially if you’ll be incorporating a lot of table decor. Plus, it’s useful to have extra space than you need at each table in case of any surprise arrivals.

2. Do make sure everyone knows at least one person on their table

Your guests will be expecting to meet new people at your wedding. But at the same time, they’ll also want some familiarity especially if they’re shy. So make sure you have a few people that know each other or have at least met before, at each table.

3. Don’t create your seating chart last minute

Give yourself plenty of time to make any changes by starting your seating chart as soon as possible. Once you’ve chosen your venue and you’ve got your RSVPs you can begin working on who’s going to sit where. You’ll probably need to go through a few drafts before finalizing it.

4. Do give your guests a chance to mingle

Weddings are a chance to catch up with old friends, and meet new ones! So seat guests who you think might get along. Make sure your tables are balanced, so everyone knows someone, but mix it up a bit too! You can even leave some icebreakers on different tables to encourage your guests to mingle.

5. Don’t seat all single guests together

Just because they’re single doesn’t mean they’re actively looking for love. You might think you’re doing them a favor, but they probably won’t be too appreciative of the obvious match-making. Even if you think your friend from yoga and your partner’s work colleague would make a perfect match, let it happen naturally during the evening.

6. Do make the most of digital seating charts

Digital seating charts are a great way to visualize your reception seating. You can easily move things around and try out different options to find the best arrangement that suits you. Different sites offer templates with lots of dimensions for real venues. Or you can customize your own and add your setups such as the dancefloor or any serving tables.

wedding seating chart etiquette
Photography: Oliva Rae James

Learn how to plan and organize your guests with our guide to the perfect wedding seating chart etiquette! In the meanwhile, head to WedBoard to explore and price out stunning wedding venues across Europe and connect with talented wedding vendors for your big day! You’ll also find tips and inspiration for every aspect of the wedding planning process including, 18 Unique Wedding Seating Chart Ideas, How To Plan the Perfect Wedding Weekend Itinerary, and 20 Wedding Lounge Area Ideas To Transform Your Big Day.

Featured image: Lush Imaging

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