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Peach and gold reception for wedding reception seating guide

Wedding Guests: Reception Seating How-Tos

 

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It's one of the final tasks on your to-do list. Here's how to make playing musical chairs a breeze.

Photo: Stackwood Studios

If you're having 50 guests to a buffet, you may or may not want to give people specific seating assignments. But if you're having 100 guests or more and serving a seated meal, you'll want to make sure everyone's got a specific place to sit. Why? For one, people like to know where they're sitting -- and that you took the time to choose where and who they should sit with. It's also helpful if you're serving several different entree choices, because the caterer and wait staff can figure out beforehand how many chickens, filets, or veggie dishes a given table gets because they (you) know who's sitting there. Read on for tips on how to seat neatly.

The parent-seating question is a flexible one. Set it up in whatever way best suits everybody.

Start Early

We've been at kitchen tables the night before the wedding (or even wedding morning) with a bride and groom just starting their seating chart. Don't let this be you -- you've got more important things to think about at that point! Sure, it's fine to make last-minute changes, but try to get the chart mostly done at least a week before the big day.

Hit the Keys

Create a new spreadsheet. If you haven't already, insert a column into your guest list document categorizing all the invitees by relationship: bride's friend; bride's family; groom's friend; groom's family; bride's family friend; groom's family friend. This way, you'll be able to easily sort the list and break it down into more logical table assortments. Now you'll need to separate these lists into distinct tables.

Create a Paper Trail

If you're feeling more low-tech, draw circles (for tables) on a big sheet of paper and write names inside them (make sure you know how many people can comfortably be seated at each). Or you could write every guest's name on a post-it to place accordingly.

Head Up the Head Table

A traditional head table is not round, but long and straight, and it is generally set up along a wall, on risers, facing all the other reception tables. It may even have two tiers if your wedding party is large. Usually the bride and groom sit smack-dab in the middle (where everyone can see them), with the maid of honor next to the groom, the best man next to the bride, and then boy/girl out from there. Flower girls or ring bearers usually sit at the tables where their parents are seating, much to the relief of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Decide to seat this way, or plan a sweetheart table for a little one-on-one time.

Switch Things Up

But you don't have to do it that way. All the maids can sit on the bride's side, all the groomsmen on the groom's. Or maybe you're not into being on display, or you don't want your wedding party to feel isolated from other guests. Let your wedding party sit at a round reception table or two with each other and/or with their dates/significant others, and have the head table be a sweetheart table for the two of you. (How romantic!) Another option -- you two sit with your parents and let that be the head table, with the wedding party at their own tables.

 

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