It’s time to plan the seating chart for your wedding reception, and you’re stumped. As you stare down at your kitchen table, littered with diagrams, post-it-notes, and multi-colored pens, you realize that you feel like you’re playing the world’s most stressful board game.
Should you put your grandma at the same table as his grandpa?
Should you put wacky Aunt Sharon next to your super stuffy boss?
And where do you put Cousin Madison now that she’s told you she isn’t bringing her on-again-off-again-boyfriend?
Don’t stress too much about your reception seating chart. Dinner will make up just a portion of the entire event. Plus, we’ve compiled tips and best practices from wedding planning experts to help you effortlessly create a seating chart that will ensure all your guests are comfortable and at ease during dinner.
- Choose Your Table Shape. Depending on your reception venue, and your total number of guests, your reception venue may allow you to choose the shape and size of the tables at your reception. Consider the space, the size of the room, and how you envision the flow of mingling guests. Keep in mind that you’ll be able to fit more guests at large, rectangular tables, but it will be easier for guests to mingle and meet if you choose smaller round tables.
- Head Table vs. Sweetheart Table? Opting for a sweetheart table means you’re guaranteed a little bit of one-on-one time with your new husband. It also means your wedding party members can sit with their dates (which we can tell you, their dates will appreciate, especially if they don’t know many other guests). Alternatively, the benefit of a head table is that you get to be surrounded by your squad during dinner. Or, choose to have the best of both worlds by inviting your bridal party’s dates to sit at your head table too.
- Family First. Traditional wedding etiquette recommends that the bride and groom’s parents sit at the same table along with grandparents and any siblings who are not in the bridal party. If you’re going to break from tradition, make sure your parents and his are with their closest relations to ensure they are comfortable and at ease during dinner. If either your or his parents are separated and/or remarried, and there’s tension between them, you may want to consider seating them at separate, but adjacent tables, or at opposite ends of a long, rectangular table.
- Consider a Kids Table. If you’ve chosen to include kids at your reception, consider placing them all together at a kids table. Their parents will enjoy the opportunity for focused adult conversation, and the kids will enjoy making new friends. You may even want to consider putting some games or toys at the kids table to keep them entertained.
- Be Considerate to Singles. Avoid the dreaded “singles table” in your seating chart. It may make your single friends feel singled-out to be seated among others without dates. Instead, seat your single friends with other guests they know and with whom they are comfortable dining.
- Decide if You Want to Mix Things Up. Some couples decide to use the dinner portion of their reception to encourage new friendships. Others choose to reunite long-lost friends and family. Whether you decide to seat guests together who have never met before, or create tables based on how you know your guests (your college friends here, his high school buddies there), make sure you are taking into consideration personalities, interests, and history. That means, reconsider seating exes together, even if they share some mutual acquaintances.
- Create Seating Cards that Match Your Wedding Theme. Don’t just handwrite names on folded pieces of cardboard. Ask your stationer to create something unique that matches all your other day-of stationery. Place setting cards with guests’ names often become the type of keepsake that guests save in their scrapbooks, so be sure to offer them something beautiful and personal to take home at the end of the night.