Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tips on Seating Guests at Your Wedding Reception

Kim Horn, MBC™, Guest Author

Your RSVPs are in, what’s next?

Deciding who sits with whom requires being tactful, being considerate, having diplomacy, and having a sense of adventure. This is similar to a jigsaw puzzle, where you will be putting all the pieces together, one by one.

1. Do I really need assigned seating? Most guests prefer having assigned seating to a table. Unassigned seating sounds great in theory, yet it rarely works out well.

• Do you like going to an event which is “general admission”?
• There may be a “rush” for the best seats.
• Couples may get split up.
• If people turn up who did not RSVP, they may take seats intended for your RSVPed guests.

2. Assigning tables or assigning seats? Guests may be assigned to a table (where they may be choose any seat) or assigned to a specific seat. Assigning tables is more common in the United States, where assigning seats (Mr. Steve Horn is at one o’clock, and Mrs. Kim Horn is at two o’clock) is more common in Europe.

3. Obtain a floor plan of your room from your reception site manager. Make photocopies of the floor plan so you may work with the seating arrangements. A few items are critical in the seating placement of your guests, such as placement of your:

• band/DJ (not the best seating placement for your grandparents)
• dance floor (next to your DJ/Band)
• bar(s)
• food tables (depending on the type of service you have chosen – sit-down/plated, action stations, or a buffet)
• cake table (away from the sun or heated area)
• dessert bar or candy bar (not the best seating placement for children)
• number/name your tables (make sure you place Table #1 next to Table #2; if you have “names” for your tables, make sure they are alphabetical beginning with the letter “A”)

www.amyandbyronphotography.com4. Know your tables sizes and how many guests fit at each table.

• 36” rounds seat 2-4 people
• 48” rounds seat 4-6 people
• 60” rounds seats 8-10 people
• 66” rounds seat 10 people
• 72” rounds seat 10–12 people
• 4’ banquet seats 4–6 people
• 6’ banquet seats 6–8 people
• 8’ banquet seats 8–10 people
• 36” square seats 4 people
• 48” square seats 8 people
• 60” square seats 10 people
• 72” square seats 12 people

NOTE: If you are having chargers/base plates, you may want to reduce the number of people at each table, since some charges are 13” in diameter.

5. Seating the bride and groom.

• together at a sweetheart table for two
• together with your matron/maid of honor and best man
• together with your matron/maid of honor, best man, and their spouse/guest
• together with your wedding party
• together with your wedding party and their spouse/guest
• together with both sets of parents

6. Seating parents. Traditionally you would have one table for the bride’s family and close friends, and another for the groom’s family. You may want to combine the two tables, yet normally there is an entourage of extended family and friends. When the bride and/or groom’s parents are divorced, and all are in attendance, it is usually not the best idea to seat them together. Hopefully they are amicable, yet the extended family of each may make it difficult logistically to seat them all at one table.

beachplacecards7. The bridal party table. Be creative with your wedding party. Think of how you feel when you attend weddings or events. You may your wedding party to sit with their spouse, guest, or family. The bridal party table may be a rectangular table set against one side or end of the room. The bride and groom sit at the center of the long side of the table, facing out so guests may see you. No one is seated opposite of the bride and groom. The bride sits on the groom’s right, with the best man on her right; the maid/matron of honor sits on the groom’s left, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen alternate along the same side of the table. If you have a large wedding party, or if you want the spouses/guests of the wedding party to be seated with them, you may want a U-shape table with the bride and groom in the center.

8. Other guest tables. Your basic objective is to make each table as congenial as possible. For couples, try to mix and match while considering their personalities and interests. Try to “fill the table”. If you have a table for 10, try to fill it with 10 guests. It will cost you more money on each table, linen, centerpiece, etc., if you do not fill your tables. Trust your instincts and common sense. If you do not personally know the guest, discuss with your fiancé or the parent which invited that person to assist you in the most logical positioning and grouping. NOTE: Seating a guest at a table where the other guests are close friends may leave the person feeling uncomfortable.

kids9. Seating children. Younger children are usually seated with their parents. Older children, tweens, or teens enjoy not being seated with their parents.

10. Seating disabled guests. If you have a guest in a wheelchair, you may want to put them close to the entrance doors so they easily may get in and out of the room. You may want to remove the chair for them if they will be seated in their wheelchair. If they would like to be seated in their chair, you may want to move the wheelchair to the side of the room for them. If someone has difficulty walking and has a cane or walker, normally it is easier to place them closer to the entrance doors. A person with impaired hearing or impaired vision may enjoy being placed near the bridal party or near the band/DJ.

assignedseating11. Seating charts, escort cards, tables numbers, and place cards. Guests will need to know which table they are seated at so they don’t have to walk around to every table to find their place. Place cards are recommended for seated dinners and formal buffets with more than twenty guests. Table numbers with stanchions or frames are placed on each table to display the number or name of the table. Table cards assign a guest to a specific table. Place cards assign a guest to a specific seat at a specific table. The table number of each guest’s table is written on his or her place card. These place cards are in alphabetical order by last name at the reception entrance. For assigned seating at the table, you will need to assign a direction in the room such as “the band is at 12 o’clock”, and seating is clockwise in the room. Make sure you number your floor plan with the appropriate table number or table name, and make sure the reception site has table numbers and table number holders/frames (hopefully their selection will match your décor).

12. Alphabetical list by last name of guest with their table number or table name. Make sure your wedding planner and head captain have your approved floor plan as well as an alphabetical list by last name of the guest with their assigned table number. It is also helpful if you have a table number or table name list with the guests listed under this. You will want to double and triple check this to make sure everyone has a seat.

13. Open the doors. Make sure at each entrance you have your wedding planner, a head captain, or a server with a detailed floor plan directing guests to their tables.

Larry’s NOTE and Opinion: Some brides and grooms and/or venues reserve a table at the reception for the vendors. Do not seat your Minister/Wedding OFficiant at the vendor table. Request that your Minister be seated with the guests. This is a better idea and is a sign of respect. It allows your family and friends the opportunity to offer their “thank yous” for a job well done. By the way, if the minister is invited to the reception and you have assigned seating, be sure to add the minister’s name to the guest list. It’s embarrassing for the minister to have to ask where he should sit if you forget to have a place card with his name and table number on it.

P.S. from Larry James: I have worked with Kim Horn, MBC™ as the Wedding Consultant many times. She is a true professional and a joy to work with. Kim gets 5 Stars from Larry James!

Photo Credit: Kim’s photo by

KimHornCopyright © 2012 – Kim Horn. To hire Kim as your wedding consultant, call 480.921.7891 or text your name, wedding date, and wedding planner request to 602.418.9089.

Kim M. Horn, MBC™ (Master Bridal Consultant – 1 of 61 in the World)
Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Chandler, Phoenix and Destination Weddings
Publisher | Pres. |
AZ State Coordinator Assoc. of Bridal Consultants May 2003 – May 2012
2010 Annual Conference Chair (worked with David Tutera) – Assoc. of Bridal Consultants
View a video of Kim Horn.

Office: 480.921.7891
Cell: 602.418.9089
FAX: 480.829.6292

Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 470 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.

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