Ultimate Guide: Wedding Ceremony & Reception Seating


Whether it’s questioning which side of the aisle to sit on or making the escort card madness as easy-to-follow as possible, simple seating plans for the wedding day are imperative. Enough seats, no tension and complete comfort for everyone, it’s one of the last and hardest pieces of the big day to settle.

Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most challenging and stressful parts of planning for the bride and groom. And although it’s hard to make the puzzle of choosing seats for everyone in the family completely seamless and painless, we’re going to try and make it, at the very least, a bit easier for you to tackle.

Three Important Things to Remember About Your Seating Plan

Stop Stressing, Over-Planning, and Overthinking It

When it comes to the ceremony, people get to pick and choose their own seats, so they can avoid Aunt Janet or Cousin Dave if their hearts so choose. But when it comes to planning our groups at the banquet tables, try not stress too much.

Remember, it’s just one night and some of your friends may have to suck up sitting with each other. And it won’t even be that big of a sacrifice since most of the sitting happens during the eating – and they’ll be too busy enjoying the meal!

Don’t Forget To Plan For Yourself

A part of the seating plan is where the bride and the groom will be sitting. Whether it’s a sweetheart table alone in the corner of a room overlooking the entire event or at the head of the celebration with the rest of the bridal party, you’ve got options to choose from. It’s just important that you don’t forget to pick!

Think About the Food

Are you serving a buffet or a sit-down meal? Why? Because it matters when it comes to the seating chart and what kinds of arrangements are made.

Less people and a buffet won’t necessarily need an entirely planned-out seating chart. But a 5-course, sit down meal with 150 guests will definitely need some organizing. What entrees go where will be helpful to the wait staff. But extra room to run back up to the buffet for some extra rolls need to be thought out as well.

Planning Your Wedding Ceremony Seating

The ceremony seating arrangement is the lesser evil of the two but there are still some questions surrounding its planning. Take a peek at our quick and helpful how-to!

Etiquette

There are just a few traditional pieces of “wedding ceremony seating etiquette” that you should keep in mind when planning for the vent.

  • Elderly guests should be seated near the front, as to both hear and see a bit better.
  • Reserve the first few rows for immediate family members or “VIP” members.
  • Discuss seating arrangements for parents, divorced parents, grandparents, etc beforehand and prep your ushers.
  • In a Christian ceremony, the bride’s mother is always seated last. While the groom’s mother is seated right before her.
  • Make sure you place guests in wheelchairs at the outside ends of the pews or aisle.

Six Seating Ideas

From traditional chairs on either end of the aisle to benches all around the bride and groom, here are some fun wedding ceremony seating ideas to gather inspiration from.

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Ceremony FAQ

Should “who’s side are you on” be asked?

Make sure the question “who’s side are you on” isn’t asked. Just make sure that if someone declares a preference they’re placed where they’d like to be sit. Instead, go with the flow and have everyone come together as one for the celebration.

Are ushers necessary?

Yes, recruit some ushers to help out with the day’s events. When your guests arrive, they’ll be so appreciative and feel a lot more comfortable knowing that the ushers will be there guiding everyone to the appropriate seat.

Left side, right side, or making it a beautiful blend, these guys can make sure that everyone is comfortable.

They can also be prepped with sensitive or tension-filled seating issues beforehand – like keeping your best friend and her ex-boyfriend – who happens to be your groom’s cousin – apart.

Where should parents sit?

Traditionally, the parents of the bride will always sit in the first pew or row on the left – facing the ceremony. While the groom’s parents will sit in the first row on the right.

My parents are divorced. How do I handle that?

Seating here can be tricky and it’s all about planning and preference. Treat this situation with as much tact and sensitivity as possible. Ushers should be prepped and know exactly what the bride and groom would like to have happened.

Do I have to have chairs? Can I use blankets or other kinds of alternative seating?

Absolutely! This is your day and your vision. As long as you have good arrangements for elderly guests and you’re making sure that everyone is comfortable – especially for a longer ceremony, go with what you want for your celebration.

Planning Your Wedding Reception Seating

This is when brides and grooms can get a bit stressed. Planning your wedding reception seating chart can be a true puzzle and game of cards. Allow us to make it a bit easier for you with the tips and ideas below!

Tips & Advice

  • Do not leave this task until the last minute. This will take some time so give it the time it deserves.
  • Spreadsheets aren’t over-the-top. They’ll become your best friend. Categorize all your guests into specific groups: family, friends, co-workers, and the like. This way you’ll be able to break them down into areas or tables even easier.
  • Seat your parents first and let everything trickle out from there. Grandparents, immediate family and their plus ones, aunts and uncles, friends, and so on. This trickle effect will help you tackle your guests list piece by piece instead of as a whole.

Sample Seating Charts

Here are a few different sample seating charts we’ve found that will help in your planning. All you have to do is sort through your guests’ names and write them down!

Reception FAQ

Do I need to include a wedding party table?

You don’t have to have an entire table set aside for the wedding party if you don’t like to. It’s a more traditional route to take, having both the bride and groom as well as their wedding party sitting at a banquet table heading the celebration – but it’s not necessary. If you’d rather your bridesmaids and groomsmen be sprinkled throughout the other tables, go for it!

Can I have a kids table?

Absolutely! If you know you’ll be having several children at the event, don’t be afraid to set up a separate kids’ table with special eats, sips and activities just for them!

What’s the difference between place cards or escort cards?

Place cards are already set at each table awaiting the guests. While escort cards are outside of the reception will directions for each guest and how to find his/her seat. The decision to use either comes down to space, the amount of guests coming to the celebration, and preference, of course!

What is a sweetheart table?

A sweetheart table is a spot where the bride and groom sit alone together at the reception. They get to have a bit of privacy as well as a place to overlook and enjoy all of their guests without distraction of others at the table.

Should I have a singles-only table?

No, this isolating and can make some guests feel uncomfortable. Instead, mix up couples and single guests. Balance out everyone so no one feels “singled” out, put on blast or awkward.

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