The Wedding Seating Plan

I know it's something you've been trying to put off, but you are going to just have to face up to sorting out your seating plan and your top table seating plan.

Your wedding breakfast is a main feature of your wedding day and seating your guests in the correct place can make or break it.

Seating Plan - The Starting Point

First of all you should have already decided on;

  • the number of guests invited to the wedding breakfast
  • the venue and therefore physical size and guest capacity
  • the size and shape of the top table
  • the size and shape of all other tables

Knowing where you are going to have your wedding breakfast is essential for deciding upon your seating plan. The shape of the room will play a large part in determining the way in which the tables are arranged to best create a great atmosphere in the room whilst the physical size will dictate how many tables you can have and therefore how many people you sit at each table.

Remember, if the tables are spread too far apart your guests will feel very isolated at their tables. If you place the tables too close together your guests will feel uneasy and maybe claustrophobic. Too close could also leave your wedding guests without the room to extend their chairs in order for them to go and powder their nose, or go to the bar.

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Ask the Venue Coordinator

Talk to the wedding or venue coordinator beforehand and ask them for advice on what works best for the number of guests you wish to invite. If you intend to have wedding entertainment during the meal, such as musicians or perhaps wedding magicians, make sure you keep your coordinator up to date with your plans, as this may also impact on the way in which the tables are arranged in the room.

The number of people you have at each table depends on how many guests you have, how many tables you have and how big the venue is. It is better to have fewer tables that are full, but not crowded, than many tables with a few people on each. If you have the luxury of space try to give everybody enough elbow room to be comfortable. If you are tight on space remember that children take less room and may help to space things out a little.

Suggested Table Plans

Here are two possible arrangements for the traditional layout for the seating plan

Arrangement 1 Arrangement 2
seating-plan-a seating-plan-b


The Top Table is usually rectangle in shape, this allows guests to see the Bride and Groom and their parents easily. This also works well as all parties on the Top Table feel part of the event and communicate more easily with guests. If your Top Table was round, it would not work so well as some of the people would have their backs to the guests.

Away from the Top Table guests traditionally sit at round tables, with the Bride and Grooms family positioned closest to the Top Table, while friends of the bride and Groom tend to be positioned slightly further back.

Here are a variety of alternate ways in which the Top Table can be arranged depending upon your circumstances.

Traditional Seating Plan


Bride's parents divorced and remarried


Groom's parents divorced and remarried


Dave and Katherine's Top Table


As you can see Dave and I did not have a 'traditional' Top Table, but it worked perfectly well.

With my father not being alive my brother gave me away. My niece was our Chief Bridesmaid but she was only eleven years old at the time, so it only seemed right that she should sit with her parents.

Seating your Guests

When you seat your guests try and bear the following in mind

  • try and seat guests that know each other together
  • avoid seating guests together that you know don't get on too well!
  • seat children with their parents
  • try and seat guests together who are of similar age, or have common interests
  • try wherever possible to seat guests next to someone of the opposite sex, as it provides more continuity to your wedding breakfast.

There are no hard and fast rules to your seating arrangements. You should arrange your guests in a way that works best for you and offers your guests the opportunity to mingle - you can only help encourage a good atmosphere - the rest is up to your guests!

The Receiving Line

This is the order in which the guests are traditionally received. The order for the receiving line would follow ;

  • The Brides Mother
  • The Grooms Father
  • The Grooms Mother
  • The Brides Father
  • The Bride
  • The Groom
  • The Chief Bridesmaid
  • The Best Man

This, however, can be time consuming and as more and more couples break from tradition, the Bride and Groom now tend to receive their guests without the assistance of Top Table party members.