Wedding Reception Seating Etiquette

Keep guests comfortable with a well-planned wedding reception seating plan. Reference this list of wedding reception seating etiquette FAQs as you finalize your seating arrangement.

Why have seating plans in the first place?

Whether you have an aunt and uncle that don't get along or a few guests who don't know anyone else at your wedding, orchestrating a wedding reception seating plan is a great way to ease any awkwardness when it comes time to sit down for dinner.

Where should the bride and groom sit?

The bride and groom have the option to sit a sweetheart's table together or at a bridal party table with all members of the bridal party sitting together. Some couples also opt to sit a table with the Best Man, Maid/Matron of Honor, their parents and their grandparents. Wherever they sit, the bride traditionally sits to the groom's left.

Where should the bridal party sit?

If you opt to have a bridal party table, the best man should sit to the bride's left and the maid of honor sits to the grooms right. Many couples are opting to seat the bridal party with their spouses and significant others at tables near them.

Where should parents and grandparents of the bride and groom sit?

Depending on the size and shape of tables you have, it's common to have a family table where the bride and groom's parents and grandparents sit together. Or, each set of parents can host their own table and be seated with close family and friends. In the case where parents are divorced, each parent can host their own separate table.

Where should single friends sit?

In this case, it's best to use common sense. Place the singles close to friends or family they feel comfortable with. Avoid hosting a "singles" table. This may make your single guests feel uncomfortable.

What about children?

If you have children at your reception either seat them at a table with their parents or at a children's table nearby their parents. Check out our ideas for hosting a kid friendly reception.

Where should everyone else sit?

Use age and relationship as a guide. Think about how your guests know each other and where they'd choose to sit if you had an open seating arrangement.

If you're not sure what to do with your parent's and in-laws friends, ask your mother and mother-in-law to assist in designating their tables.

For guests who don't know many other guests at the wedding, seat them near guests with similar interests. If you choose to split up groups of friends and sit them at tables nearby one another, be sure not to leave one individual out.

Place Cards vs. Escort Cards?

Place cards typically include your guest's name and table number. These tented cards can be displayed near the entrance of your reception in alphabetical order. In this case, once guests find their table they can choose their own seat. Or, they can be used on tables to designate assigned seating arrangements in conjunction with escort cards or a seating chart.

Formal escort cards with envelopes typically include the guest's name on the outer envelope with the table number on the card inside. If you want to choose assigned seats at each table, use escort cards in conjunction with place cards and set a place card at each place setting.

Should I display a seating chart?

If you are using place cards or escort cards, a seating chart is not a necessity. However, many couples choose to display a seating chart near the entry of their reception venue. The chart should be an alphabetical list of guest names along with their assigned table number.

Related Resources:

Essential Wedding Planning Checklist
When to send Save the Dates, Wedding Invitations & Thank You Cards
Wedding Reception Timeline
How to Address Wedding Invitations
Wedding Invitation Wording
Wedding Reception Seating Etiquette
Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette
Wedding Ceremony Program Wording
Ordering Guideline

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