Ceremony & Reception,  Ideas & Advice

Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements

Photo by Alison Mayfield Photography. Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com
Photo by Alison Mayfield Photography

This can be the most painful part of the wedding next to RSVPs. The worst bit is you can’t really finalise the seats till all the RSVPs come in, which sometimes can be as late as a week before the big day. We’re telling you this in advance so you can brace yourself and be prepared to stay flexible. You could possibly lock down the families’ tables first so start with that.

Generally, the international rule of seating your guests is to alternate male and female guests to encourage conversation. Couples are not supposed to sit together, which might be a little awkward for Asians, as they are generally not so outgoing. They might just end up swapping the names around themselves.

Some cultures and traditions are more specific with their seating arrangements, including on which side the groom and his family should sit. What we have here is a more generic guide that makes the most sense to us. Feel free to move things around according to which side the groom is sitting. Also, there’s no rule to who should sit at the main table so if your parents insist on something, you’ll be a happier bride (or groom) if you just do as they say.


#01 Main Family Table
Traditionally, parents, grandparents and family members of the highest status are seated at the main table. This is one example but there are so many possibilities. The point is for those closest to the bride and groom to sit next to them, and the rest working their way around the table.

Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com

Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com

Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com

Tip: Some hotels have main tables that seat up to 14 people. If there are separate receptions for the families of the bride and groom, the main table should be filled by the host family. If it is a shared reception, it is usually shared equally.

Family tables are then arranged around the main table, with those closest to the main table deemed more important. Occasionally, the Best Man and the Maid of Honour are given the privilege of sitting at the main table along with the parents of the bride and groom. This is normally a top table arrangement, intentionally done to reduce the complications of status and to avoid offending anyone.

#02 Bridal Party
An alternative is to have the bridal party – Best Man, Maid of Honour, groomsmen and bridesmaids – seated at the main table. If you choose this arrangement, consider asking both sets of parents to host a table each for their family. These tables can be placed next to the main table.

Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com

Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com

Tip: This normally means the reception is hosted by the bride and groom, and is usually a smaller and more intimate reception with perhaps an after party to follow.

Personally we feel it is alright for the Maid of Honour to be seated next to the bride. It makes more sense, as the Maid of Honour will be assisting the bride throughout the reception. Feel free to break tradition and do what works for you.

#03 Bride and Groom
As bride and groom, you are the stars for the day. Your table and seating position should be easily visible from anywhere in the venue. This will allow your guests to witness your joy and happiness.

Tip: Some couples, for e.g. David and Victoria Beckham, actually ditched the idea of having a main table. It might be fashionable, but it’s also useful if you’re looking to avoid the issue of who sits at the main table.


#01 Round Table Arrangements
Round tables encourage group conversation. The main table can be in front of the stage with the bride and groom facing the entrance, followed by families’ and friends’ tables. Alternatively, for bigger ballrooms, the main table can be on a platform in the middle of the venue, with tables all around it. This way guests will be able to feel the presence of the newlyweds.

Tip: As much as the main table centrepiece should be more dramatic, avoid having something so overwhelming that your guests will not be able to see you.

#02 Long Table Arrangements
For long table arrangements, couples are usually seated opposite each other with male and female guests alternating to encourage conversation. We actually feel that long table arrangements are perfect for Asian weddings because they allow your guests to sit near their partners while encouraging them to interact with those around them. Personally, we would place couples diagonally across from each other to create even more opportunity for conversation.

Also, long tables do not look as empty without a big centrepiece. Just simple décor will make it look equally great. This seating arrangement might work better for you, especially if your programme for the night is packed.

Possible arrangement:
Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com

Tip: This arrangement is only suitable if your food is being served individually, or if it’s a buffet reception. Make sure the venue has enough people serving the food; it should be at least one waiter to a table. The downside is that most of the time the food isn’t warm because this sort of arrangement requires more time for preparation and service.

#03 Mixed Table Arrangements
We love these new arrangements that can totally transform a typical ballroom wedding. As we mentioned, round tables require stronger centrepieces that might involve higher costs, so mixing it up is a great way of achieving that look without spending quite as much money. Mixed table arrangements can be done in various ways, including putting a few round tables in the centre, bordered by long tables. Or you could use long tables to create a square in the middle for a dance floor, followed by round tables all around. These arrangements might take up a bit more space, but they’re also a great way to make a big hall seem less empty if you’ve got a smaller reception.

Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com

Wedding Table And Seating Arrangements. www.theweddingnotebook.com

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