Out of everything on that long wedding to-do list, nothing seems to stress out more brides, grooms, or their parents than the dreaded reception seating arrangements.
There always seems to be the odd chair left over at one table and another one at that table. There’s the troublesome distant relative or two who can’t get along with any family members. There are the work friends who only know you and each other, and the college friends whose break-up still stings enough that they are best placed on opposite sides of the room. Then the big question: where shall the newlyweds sit?
We may not have a magic wand, but we do have some suggestions that can help you get through this with a little less hassle.
- Opt for family seating. Put up one long table for each of you, another for mutual friends, and two smaller tables to accommodate each of your co-workers. If your dad can’t stand your mother’s great-aunt, they can be seated far enough apart to make conversation impossible.
- Use a mix of tables. Most reception venues have circular, rectangular and square tables. Rectangular tables make the best use of space, but square tables allow for smaller groups (and fewer personality clashes). Meanwhile, circular tables are great for an odd number of guests because everybody can be evenly spaced without awkwardness. A combination of all of the above is much easier than forcing yourself to have ten people to a table.
- Assign tables but not seats. You needn’t fuss about whether Cousin Jerry should be on Grandpa’s left or Grandma’s right. Just give your guests table numbers and let them decide for themselves who sits next to whom.
- Skip the seating chart altogether. No, really! If you have fewer than 100 guests, just skip it. You’ve invited grown-ups – they are perfectly capable of choosing their own tables. Simply ask the reception hall to set up for ten extra seats so nobody is left looking for a place to sit.
- Go clubbing. If you’re not having a formal dinner or buffet, but opting for finger foods, brunch, cocktails and hors d’oeurves, etc., work with your reception hall to arrange club seating instead of traditional tables. A combination of high tables, sofas with cocktail tables, club chairs and the like make for a cozy setting where nobody has to feel tied to a chair.
- Mix & match your guests. If you’re really having trouble figuring out how to seat your family members without stirring up old feuds, try mixing everybody up from both sides and matching them according to common interests. Those college pals who love to hunt and fish are apt to be a good fit with family members who do the same. Your coworker and her husband who love old movies will surely find something to talk about with your TCM-addicted aunt and uncle. Just be sure to indicate their shared interests with trivia cards or other conversation starters.
- Center yourselves. Whether you have a sweetheart table for just the two of you or a “head” table with your wedding party, or a family table with your parents and sibling, make sure your table is in the middle of the reception room, so it’s easier for you to see as many people as possible.
We have more reception planning ideas saved on our Reception Planning Pinterest board.