How to Master Your Reception Seating Chart

Empty wedding reception venue

Your dream wedding seating chart can quickly become a nightmare. From last minute RSVPs to making sure each table is filled with people that’ll enjoy one another’s company, you can quickly start overanalyzing and stressing out on a simple seating chart. Never fear, mastering the seating chart can be done if you follow some guidelines.

Don’t Start Too Early

Don’t start the seating chart until you have back all of the RSVPs. Of course, you’re going to get some in last minute which might throw things off a bit. Random people you never thought would come will RSVP “yes,” and people you thought would for sure be in presence for one of the biggest days of your life might not be able to come.

You can easily group all of your guests onto a spreadsheet or scratch sheet of paper. Sort them according to their relationship to you to make it easier to know where to begin.

Making the Seating Chart

Choose if you’d like to create a seating chart online or scribble it out on a piece of paper. Remember, you may make many edits so choose which way is easiest for you. Many people choose to create a chart online because you can easily move people around with the click of a mouse. Some like to see the entire outline on paper and erase/pencil-in people as they go. Some brides even color code their seating chart with Post-it notes, creating a key for friends, family members, co-workers, and other groups.

Wedding couple clinking champagne glasses with friends

Head or Sweetheart Table

You should decide when you begin seating arrangements if you’ll have a head table where traditionally all of the wedding party sits. At this table you not only include the wedding party, but their plus one. Many times the venue will supply a special table that is longer in length in order to fit everyone. If they do not do this, then you may need to split the head table into a few separate tables in a special location if you have a large wedding party. Some couples choose to sit separate from the wedding party at their own table. You can also designate a special table like this for the immediate family of the bride and groom.

Calculate the Number of Tables and Chairs

You need to know how many tables will be at the wedding reception and how many chairs will be placed at each table. Don’t try to cram in more chairs just because you need more people at one table. Guests like to be comfortable as they eat and socialize so just move some of the group to another table if needed. The wedding reception facility should be able to send you a chart of where each table is placed as well as how many people can sit at the tables. If you aren’t getting married at a venue and/or are providing your own tables, the standard number of seats at a table is eight.

Sit Groups Together According to Their Relationships

Sit people in groups where they will feel most comfortable. It’s a great idea to seat family members or friends who don’t see one another often together. They’ll love getting to catch up and talk about the good ole days together. Sit your high school and college friends together so they can rehash funny stories from their wild days. Sit co-workers together so even if they don’t know your other family and friends, they feel comfortable and are able to just relax and have fun together.

Many brides choose to have a kids’ table. That’s totally up to you. Sometimes a kids’ table can get out of hand quickly as they make noise and throw food at one another. Other times they have a lot of fun hanging out and playing together.

Jealous woman watching a couple dance at party

Don’t Sit Guests Together That Can’t Stand One Another

Keep in mind those guests that might have issues with one another. If your uncle doesn’t get along with a cousin, don’t sit them next to one another. Never force people to sit together just because you think you can be their hero that gets them to be buddies once again. People that are divorced should be placed far apart to make it easier on everyone. The ex-wife doesn’t need to be stuck staring at the new wife of her ex all night.


Don’t forget your vendors. Many couples choose to feed their vendors. They can all sit at a table together. They may not all know one another, but it will give them a great chance to meet new friends and maybe get some new referrals.

Share The List With Loved Ones

Don’t be afraid to get recommendations from your loved ones. Your mom may want one of her old college buddies at the table next to her, and you have placed her across the venue. It’s no big deal to change people around according to what your family and friends tell you. Your best friend may remind you that John and Sarah used to date and don’t have a good relationship so they might best be seated far away from one another.

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