Defining your wedding table plan

19 Dec 2013

Defining your wedding table plan

For some, planning where people sit can be a nightmare. Read below for some useful suggestions from who should sit where on the head table, to getting the right room layout.

So you think you don’t need a seating plan? Think again.

Sometimes it’s a wonder why a seating plan is needed at a wedding. Surely people can find their own seats and sit next to whomever they want. That feels right in theory, but what happens when there are single seats left at a table, or your partners siblings are left to sit on a table right at the back? A seating plan not only guides your guests to an allocated seat in a more timely fashion, it also means you can group people that want to sit together.

Who should sit on the top table?

The rules for the top table have long gone out of the window with some brides choosing to sit with their friends, with close family or even just by themselves with their new husband. Some even opt out of having a top table that overlooks the rest of their guests, and just have a normal table amongst them instead. If you do decide to have a top table, it traditionally needs to seat 8 persons including: the bride and groom, the parents, the maid of honour and the best man. The bride’s party should sit directly to the right of the groom, with his family to the left of his bride. However, don’t be afraid to organise a seating plan that goes against the ‘rules’. You could try one of the following options:

  • Have your parents and chief bridesmaid seated on one side, with the grooms parents and best-man on the other. Or – consider just having the parents seated at the head table with you.
  • Have everyone sat on a round table.
  • Break with tradition – and have all of your bridesmaids/ushers on the top table, with both sets of parents sat with each other or other guests. Doing it this way means that they have the freedom to chat to guests – who will probably also want to chat to them.

What should you have on each table?

The advice given here is quite broad, because ultimately, there are many dependencies (sit down dinners versus buffets etc). Ideally, it’s worth keeping the following in mind

  • Table numbers – there are a new wave of brides that are opting against using table numbers altogether and instead using names to make the day even more personal. With these, you should have ushers that can guide guests to the table, or have a printed table plan that mirrors the layout of the room. If you don’t – it’s easier to stick to numbers as these will be sequentially laid out.
  • Place Cards – If you have people allocated to a table, it’s not to say that you need to have place cards too. But if you do, then these should be easy to read (so maybe save the fancy, writing style for something else!). To save space, you could have a place card that sits on a plate, or attaches to a drinking glass, or double it up as a favour. e.g: having edible cookies with people’s names on them.
  • Favours – if you opt to have a separate favour for each guest – then it’s nice for it to be positioned directly on (or where the) main plate is positioned on a table.
  • Centre Piece – Yes, they make the room look uniformed and amazing. But larger, more extravagant centre-pieces make it almost impossible to see or talk to other guests on the table. They might also make it harder for people to see the front of the room and they can be an eye-sore in photographs. Not to mention, they can be expensive. As an alternative- you could opt to have a mixture of different kinds of centre pieces such as tall flowers on some and smaller versions or candles on others.

Who should sit where?

Try and group immediate family and members of the bridal party, or those who you didn’t think twice about inviting closest to the top table. Typically, tables can seat between 8 and 12 people each. For friends/couples, try and mix people from both the bride and grooms side together. Whilst it’s great to form tables where people know each other (family/bridal party) it might also be nice for people to sit with people they don’t know, but that you think might converse well. If children are invited, you might want to think about seating youngsters at one side of the room. If you do this, make sure ‘individual’ children know exactly where their parents are sitting. You may even have different favours for them, or even a different menu that caters for them.

How should the room be laid out?

If you are having your reception at a hotel that caters for weddings, they are likely to have some recommended room layouts for you that take into account entry and exit doors, lighting, the number of people you are accommodating and wedding entertainment such as a band or DJ. But – if you have a vision in your head, or have used a seating planner tool to layout a room, then don’t hold back on requesting a more bespoke floor plan. EG: dance floors can be in the centre or on one side of a venue hall. (Just make sure that bands/DJs have access to plenty of power points!)

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