How to Seat Guests At Your Reception
While you are planning the guests to come to your wedding, first you need to know if it is a large number or a smaller number of guests. If you are having a smaller number of guests, going buffet style with no seating arrangement could work. But if you are planning on having a lot of guests attending, having a seating arrangement and serving a seated meal is also good. When attending a wedding, people like to know where they are sitting. More importantly, they like that you took the time to choose where they should sit and with whom they are sitting with. It is also helpful for your caterer to know how many chicken, beef, or vegetarian dishes a table gets because they know who is sitting there. Here are a few tips to know when planning on where and how to seat your guests!
Many couples sit down at the kitchen counter the night before the big day, just starting their seating chart. Do not let this be you. You have more important things to worry about the night before your wedding. It is okay if you need to make some last minute changes but it is always good to start planning ahead.
Start by creating a spreadsheet. Make a column for your guest list by categorizing all of your guests by relationship; friends, family, your partner's friends and family, your family friends, and your partners family friends and so on. This way is easy and organized so you can easily sort it out and break it down into more logical table assortments. Now, separate those into distinct tables.
If you are a visual person, get a big piece of paper and draw circles for the tables and write names inside. Make sure you know how many guests can sit at one table so you do not leave your guests crowded and uncomfortable.
Traditionally, the head table is long and straight and usually set up along a wall, on risers, and facing all of the other tables. The newlyweds sit right in the middle of the table. The first person right next to the bride is the maid of honor. The first person right next to the groom is the best man. And then the rest of the bridesmaids down from the bride and the rest of the groomsmen down from the groom. Some also have had the best man next to the bride and the maid of honor next to the groom and then boy/girl out from there. You do whatever makes you feel comfortable. Or if you are not someone who likes being on display or you do not want your wedding party to feel isolated from other guests, place your wedding party at a couple of tables with each other and their dates. And have a small sweetheart table for you and your partner. One other option is having the head table be you, your partner, and both of your parents. And let the wedding party have their own table.
Commonly, there is one table that is made for you and your partners parents, both grandparents, siblings not in the wedding party, and the officiant and their spouse if they are attending the wedding. If you or your partner's parents are divorced and you are uncomfortable about seating them together, you could let each set of parents have their own table of close family/friends. Figuring out where to seat parents can be flexible. Set it up in whatever way best suits everyone. If you are unsure, talk with you and/or your partner's parents ahead of time before you make a final decision.
Tame the Tension
Your family may be in the situation where certain family members just do not get along. Maybe they have not spoken in years or the last time they saw each other was at another family wedding and they got into a drunken fight. Although it may be impossible for them to not see each other at all, it is understandable to keep them as far apart as possible. Think about these relationships while you are making the seating chart. Your family will appreciate you for it.
If you have old high school or college friends attending your wedding, it may be a good idea to seat them all together. This allows them to sit together and catch up with each other.