How To Plan Tables For Weddings
Assigned or Unassigned Seating?
Seating plans for weddings can feel like a logisitical nightmare – wouldn’t it just be easier to have unassigned seating and let everyone sit where they want? Short answer probably NOT!
Indeed a survey by YOU GOV found that 84% of guests preferred assigned seating.
|preferred being assigned to a specific seat||51%|
|preferred being assigned to a table (can choose any seat)||33%|
|free for all – no seats or tables assigned||13%|
With assigned seating you can
- Ensure partners are at the same table (or not)
- That the elderly are close enough to hear the speeches
- That the pregnant and elderly are close to the bathrooms
- That the kids are with their parents (or equally that they are on a separate children’s table)
- That people who don’t get on are not thrown together
- That people with similar interests are together
- Make it easier for people with dietary restrictions to get the right food
- That uninvited guests do not take the seat of someone who is invited *
- That no one is left wandering around like “Johnny no mates” at the end after everyone else is seated.
(*This can happen believe it or not. I was at a wedding and a local celeb invited himself – he was most put out when asked to leave. He felt his celebrity status meant he should be allowed in!)
By constraining people to assigned seats it frees you to be as formal or as informal as you wish. The traditional male/female alternating approach can be logistically challenging and even more so with same sex relationships and transgender individuals.
Types of Assigned Seating
Table and Seat Assigned.
- You can ensure that speakers and VIP guests are in the most appropriate seats
- You can do some matchmaking!
- According to the survey this is the most popular choice with guests
- Less work for you
- Doesn’t require name cards
- Guests have some flexibility as to who they sit next to.
Whichever you go for remember to talk to the venue – ask what tables they have and what options are available. Circular tables often are pretty standard but there may be other options, why not have some circular and some rectangular or square?
Photograph by Ginny Marsh Photography
You need space to move and space to be seen. I was at a wedding at the weekend where the tables were arranged like this
It could have been better. When the speeches were made most of the people had their backs to the bride and groom, guests found it tricky to get in and out, and the bride, in her lovely large dress found negotiating between tables well nigh impossible. They DID enjoy their wedding – but I still wouldn’t recommend this – give yourself and your guests some space and let your guests see you!
Name Cards / Escort Cards
Name cards have the guest’s name and sit on the table. Escort cards sit outside the wedding breakfast room and have the table and the guest’s name on. They can be formal “Table 8, Mr John Smith” or informal “Table 8, John”. If budget is an issue you can easily add a personal touch and save money on name cards and wedding favours (the small packs of sweets on a table for each guest) by making them yourself.
The Top Table
The wedding party should be the most visible table in the room with a clear view of the guests and vice versa, usually a long rectangular table with seats on one side only with the wedding party facing the guests.
If the top table consists of just the bride, groom and parents, running from left to right as you face it, in traditional order it would be: Groom’s father, Bride’s mother, Groom, Bride, Bride’s father, Groom’s mother. It is also traditional to have your chief bridesmaid and best man sat at the top table too.
If the bride’s parents have divorced and remarried
From the left: bride’s stepfather, chief bridesmaid, groom’s father, bride’s mother, groom, bride, bride’s father, groom’s mother, best man, bride’s stepmother.
If the groom’s parents have divorced and remarried
From the left: best man, groom’s stepmother, groom’s father, bride’s mother, groom, bride, bride’s father, groom’s mother, groom’s stepfather, chief bridesmaid.
If both sets of parents have divorced and remarried
From the left: groom’s stepmother, bride’s stepfather, chief bridesmaid, groom’s father, bride’s mother, groom, bride, bride’s father, groom’s mother, best man, bride’s stepmother, groom’s stepfather.
Also traditionally guests of greatest importance to the bride and groom are placed at tables closest to the top table…..but at the end of the day it’s your wedding and it is important that you are happy….so this is the rule book….but don’t be afraid to do what works best for you.
DO consider putting crayons etc on tables for kids during the speeches.
DON’T have a left-overs table for all the stragglers who were hard to place – spread them around the room.
DON’T put a jungle flower arrangement in the centre of the table – they look great but really limits conversation with people on the other side of the table.
DO consider having Red Hat Magic to entertain between courses and get everyone chatting, laughing and going wow! Plus an extra special show including custom magic for the top table Contact Danny or call 07754 583089 for a no commitment chat.
“We were unsure at the idea of hiring a magician, but it turned out to be A HUGE HIGHLIGHT OF OUR DAY and cannot wait for an excuse to hire him again!” Gemma & Tim Tonkin.