A How To Guide on Seating Arrangements

If you're like most couples about to get married, you and your partner know how important the seating arrangements for your reception can be. Maybe the planning has even caused a small amount of anxiety. Well, it doesn't have to. Here are some tips for taking the stress out of seating arrangement preparation.

When You Need Them

Some couples may be confused as to when they need to make seating arrangements and when they do not. The general rule of thumb is if you are having 50 or fewer guests, than you do not need to pick where everyone is sitting. Guests would be able to comfortably seat themselves without it causing chaos or confusion. If you are only serving cake, hors d'oeuvres or cocktails and you have more than 50 guests, than it is also fine to forego seating arrangements.

However, if you plan on having 50 or more guests and you plan to serve a meal, you need to have thought out your seating arrangements. This is true regardless of whether you will have a sit down meal or a buffet.

Tables You'll Need

There are three types of tables you will need at your reception: tables for the bridal party, tables for the parents and tables for the other guests.

The bride and groom are seated at what is called the head table or the sweetheart table. The bride is seated to the right of the groom. The couple can sit at the table by themselves or they can have the bridal party and the ushers join them. If this is the case, the bridal party should sit male-female-male. For smaller bridal parties, attendants' spouses should be seated at the head table.

The parents of the bride and the parents of the groom each host their own table. Grandparents and godparents also sit at this table. If one or both sets of parents are divorced, then each parent hosts a table. If the officiant attends the reception, then he or she also sits at the parents' tables.

Lastly, the rest of the wedding guests need to be seated according to their level of comfort. Sit couples together while seating divorced couples at different tables. If children are invited, seat children under seven with their parents. Older children can host their own table. Try to seat people together who have similar interests. Be accommodating to anyone with a physical disability.

Traditionally, those who are closest to the couple are seated nearer to them than those they don't know as well. Each table is given a name or number. Place cards should be handwritten.

Helpful Tips

Start as early as you can. You'll have many things to think about as the wedding gets closer.

Categorize all your guests before beginning. Know who is married to whom, who is a member of the bride's family, who is a member of the groom's family and who is a friend. If you're computer savvy you could use a spreadsheet to help you.

Finally, just as important as knowing everyone's relationship with each other is to know who no longer has a relationship. If you have two friends or family members who haven't spoken in a while because of an argument, you'll want to be sure they are seated at tables far from each other. Not only will you save your guests from feeling awkward, but you'll save yourself from a potential wedding day disaster.

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