5 Tips for Arranging Wedding Reception Seating
How to minimize stress and awkwardness and make sure everyone thoroughly enjoys the celebration!
If you're at the planning stage where you've gotten most of your RSVP's in and are beginning to think about organizing the flow and details of the your big day, you may be tempted to let everyone just sit wherever they want to at your reception (especially if you're already foregoing the traditional "bride's side/groom's side" seating for your ceremony).
This move definitely takes stress off of you, and may be the best option if you're having any sort of backyard soiree or more casual, intimate affair. But if you're inviting more than 50 guests, and hosting them in a classic reception venue, letting guests just sit wherever can get chaotic, and may cause your guests to feel a little uncomfortable depending on where they end up. The last thing you want is for your guests not to have a good time.
To avoid any drama, and make sure you have as much control over the smoothness of your evening as possible, we highly recommend creating a seating chart.
You may not think it's all that difficult to make (and it's not!!) but once you start doing it there may be certain hurdles you run into, or just general questions you might have about how to do this in the way that pleases the most important people and the maximum amount of people.
Since we're wedding experts, we wanted to give you our 10 best pieces of advice (compiled from personal experience and thorough research!) for seating your guests!
#1 - Seat the elderly far away from the band/DJ
Loud music huts older people's ears - it's just a fact of life. You don't want them to complain or struggle to hear each other, as some of them may be hard of hearing...seat them in a place where they can have a conversation without being too overshadowed by sound! If you are seating individual grandmas and grandpas with their other family members (suggested), just be mindful of this when placing that family. (Shoutout to WeddingWire for this awesome piece of advice!)
#2 - Seat the kids with their parents, unless....
Many big-name wedding businesses will tell you to sit the kids at their own table, but this is pretty much the worst idea we've ever heard of and we're 99% sure none of the people writing that advice actually have kids or have ever been to a wedding where that happened. Kids without their parents lean towards anarchy. A group of young kids together will 100% ensure that someone's kid ends up wailing or hurt, they're more likely to spill stuff everywhere, and they might run off to find their parents anyway. The parents are going to be glancing at the table or visiting it the whole time...no, it's so much better to just sit the kids with their parents so the parents can keep an eye on them and relax more.
The only exception to this rule would be if during the reception, you hired a babysitter and provided an adjacent room for the kids to play in (complete with games, a TV, Chick-Fil-A nuggets, etc.) That's an awesome idea and parents might love it....But in that case, we wonder, why invite the kids at all? Just our 2c!
#3 - Don't sit all of your single friends together
It's a natural urge - who doesn't love matchmaking*, right? - but this could embarass them or be really awkward for them. It's really not necessary! Single people are just people, who can relate to couples just fine. Of course, you might not want to put them at a table with all couples or all newlyweds, right, but don't set them all up together. It'll have the potential to feel like a kids' table and you don't want to hurt their feelings! *If you really have a hunch that two of your single friends would be great for each other, though, by all means seat them at the same table!
#4 - Try to sit guests that don't like each other away from each other
If you have feuding family members, divorced parents, or any sort of bad blood between friends that you know exists, don't assume that just because it's your wedding day that everyone will behave. They might try, but if you seat guests with issues with each other next to each other and drama ensues, that's ultimately on you! Just avoid the potential all together. Now, this is easier said than done and might require some creativity on your part. Enlist your MOH and any other older family member you trust to help you decide where would be the best place to put these guests. Every situation is different!
If it's a case of divorced parents who don't get along (fairly common!) you have options. You could sit them with you at the head table, just on opposite sides. You could seat them at their own table with their individual families, or friends. Check out The Knot's guide to traditional family/wedding party seating here.
#5 - Plan early, plan clearly, but be flexible
This isn't something you should be preoccupied with during wedding week! As soon as you send your final numbers to the caterer, you should be thinking and planning for this. Give yourself enough time to adjust as needed, and also to acquire the materials you'll need (seating chart, place cards, escort cards, etc.) to clearly communicate where your guests are supposed to sit.
There are ALWAYS guests that show up that you didn't expect to show up (someone brings a plus one, someone didn't RSVP but comes anyway, etc.) so be prepared to accommodate extra guests.
Have questions about other seating etiquette or general wedding planning advice? Kadlee is a bridal robes business that specializes in all things bridal! Follow us on social media or subscribe to our blog for more wedding inspiration!