4 Answers to Wedding Reception Seating Questions

A table at a wedding reception with guests in the background.

Navigating your wedding reception seating can be tough, as there are so many intricacies to putting guests in the perfect place. Although the very idea of creating a seating chart can be intimidating, there are ways to simplify the process and make it an absolute breeze (including eliminating the idea altogether!). Below, we tackle some of the commonly asked questions on this topic so you can soon cross this item off your wedding to-do list.

What if we don’t want a seating chart?

A table at a wedding reception with an escort card number on it.

Many couples debate whether they actually need a seating chart for their wedding reception. This is a valid question, and if you’re having a buffet or station-style dinner, you can definitely opt to let guests sit where they please rather than assigning tables or individual seats. You can certainly go this route—but if you decide to do this, make sure you use signage at your reception to let guests know that they should seat themselves so they aren’t left wondering what to do. (However, make sure that you and your future spouse actually do have designated seats so that you always have somewhere to sit throughout the night without having to search for an empty spot!)

Before you commit to the idea of not having assigned seats, though, think through some of the logistics and potential problems. First off, think about people who will be attending your wedding who won’t know many others there. You don’t want anyone to end up without someone to sit with, as it could cause an awkward and uncomfortable situation for those guests. Also keep in mind that you may need to have more seats than guests since people may not always completely fill a table.

You can certainly skip the seating chart if you feel strongly about it, but this typically works best for smaller weddings rather than larger ones and usually isn’t recommended for plated dinner receptions.

Should we assign seats?

Some couples choose to assign individual seats to their guests rather than just tables. This can be done at very formal events such as black tie weddings. It’s common practice for more casual events to stick simply to assigned tables.

What’s the difference between a place card and an escort card?

Speaking of assigned seats, you may find yourself wondering what the difference is between escort and place cards. Escort cards are used to let guests know which table they’re sitting at. These should be displayed near the entry of your reception so that guests can find their name and locate their assigned table. Place cards are left on a guest’s place setting to denote an assigned seat. If you use only escort cards, guests will have an assigned table, but will be able to choose whatever seat at that table they prefer.

Who should the bride and groom sit with?

A pair of chairs at a wedding reception with signs that say

This is really up to personal preference! The couple of honor can choose to sit at their own private table, referred to as a “sweetheart table.” This allows the bride and groom to be the focal point of the reception, as this table is usually in a prominent spot. It also gives the bride and groom some time by themselves on such a special day, which can get a little hectic!

If a sweetheart table isn’t your thing, you could instead opt to sit with individuals from your wedding party. Some couples choose to sit with their maid of honor, best man, and their respective dates. Others choose to sit with their entire wedding party. Really, whoever you sit with on this momentous occasion is up to you—there’s no right or wrong way to do it!

These questions and issues may seem confusing when they first arise, but rest assured that others have had the same inquiries. Use this guide to help simplify the seating chart process for a smoother wedding reception that everyone can enjoy.

Find Amazing Vendors