Top 5 Seating Etiquette Questions

Smaller Seating Board PictureWhen it comes to wedding etiquette, one of the most common concerns Brides and Grooms face is the reception seating plan. For the couple having a sit-down dinner or formal buffet reception, it is customary for the couple to determine the seating arrangements and provide seating or escort cards for their guests. 

While the seating plan can be viewed as an annoyance or even a nightmare, a well thought out seating plan assures that guests are seated with other guests with common interests.  Advance thought and planning can make your guests feel special and avoid the hurt feelings that often result with a hap-hazard seating plan or open seating plan.  If your reception is less formal, then an open seating plan may work, but you should consider reserving a few tables for elderly guests and immediate family.  When you begin the seating plan, you will have to address several issues including where you and the bridal party will sit, as well as where your parents will be seated.  Here are our Top 5 Seating Etiquette Questions which we hope will provide some guidance.  1. Seating for Bride and Groom?  When it comes to seating for the Bride and Groom, the only sure rule for wedding seating etiquette is that the bride and the groom sit side by side with the bride seated on the groom’s left. The couple can elect to sit by themselves at a Sweetheart Dais and have their wedding party seated with their husbands, wives, fiancés and significant others at the two tables adjacent or closest to the dais table or the wedding party can be seated with other guests throughout the room. The second option is to have a large dais table where the bride and groom are seated with the entire wedding party. Most couples are moving away from the larger dais because it separates the bridal party from their dates. 2. Who sits where? Traditionally the Bride and Groom arrange seating around the bridal table. Typically the bride’s and groom’s parents “host” their own table consisting of their family members and close friends. Family and the bridal party are generally seated closest to the Bride and Groom followed by friends, co-workers, neighbors etc. Remember to be considerate of older guests who may not enjoy sitting close to the band or DJ. 3. Who sits with whom? As a general rule, try seating groups either by their relationship to you or their age group. While it’s a great idea to mix it up, remember that people are most comfortable when sitting with people they know.  If there are guests invited who do not know anyone else, consider their interests and age group and seat them accordingly. 4. How to seat divorced parents? In the case of divorced parents, have each parent host his or her own table to diffuse any awkwardness or discomfort. Assign your mother one table, with her close family and friends, and your father another. Just be sure not to seat  one parent at the bridal table, but not the other.  Also, in considering where the tables are physically located in the ballroom, determine whether you can have the tables close to each other or if it will be better for everyone if the tables are on different sides of the room. 5. Where to seat children? If you plan on having children at your reception, seating the children can sometimes be tricky.  Oftentimes, it is preferable to seat young children with their parents;  older children can be seated with their parents or on a table together. A children’s table can be great for parents, but can be potentially disruptive to other guests if the children are without supervision. If you go with a children’s table make sure the parents of the children are seated nearby, or that there is someone assigned to supervise the children at their table.