Where to start and what to do when considering and creating your wedding seating plan 

Your wedding seating plan can be a simple task but it can also be a headache waiting to happen. You have to consider relationships and who gets on with who, the theme of each table and the sizing and spacing of your wedding reception room.  

With lots to consider before you've even put pen to paper, here's a foolproof guide to making easy work of this tricky task.  

Where to start 

You will have already decided on your guest list and amount of guests in line with your venue's capacity, so the next step is to find out how your guests will be seated. Are the tables long or round and how many guests can be seated at each table?

Don't forget about the all-important top table, which typically accommodates the happy couple and their immediate family (parents, siblings and/or grandparents) or just both sets of parents and the best man and maid of honour.  

When you have set your numbers, then you're ready to tackle the hard part of seating each guest. 

Firstly, do allocate each guest a seat – free seating rarely works as guests don’t know what to do for the best, and you’ll end up with one spare seat on a table and a lone guest who looks and feels out of place. Your guests will be seated for a couple of hours, maybe more, so to ensure a great atmosphere, lots of smiles and laughs around the room, spend time putting close family and friends together and like-minded strangers together too.

Consider the dynamic of each table, the personalities of each group of guests and existing and potential relationships. Traditionally, men and women are alternated around or along each table, but this is up to you. 

It is advisable not to split up groups of friends/partners. It is nice for people to meet others and make new friends, but it is even better for guests to feel comfortable during dinner to ensure there is a nice buzz and atmosphere with lots of chat and laughter rather than silence. You will only have your guests moving name cards around otherwise.

Visualise it

As well as drawing up a seating plan, it may be worth creating a more dimensional version so that you can better visualise it and move names around as you go. 

Start by cutting up little squares of paper and write your guests' names on each one, then use paper circles/rectangles or CDs as the tables and position them as they would be in the room. Use the pieces of paper to move people about, decide where you would like to seat them and then when you are done, take a photo.

This can be a really fun part of your wedding planning, so enjoy a bottle of wine with your partner while doing so. This is a great way of making sure that you not only create the right combinations for each table but also to see who will be sitting behind each other and on the table next to each other, which is another aspect to consider.

Assign your table names or numbers 

Once your seating plan is more or less finalised, you can start assigning table names or numbers.

Depending on your style of wedding and theme, there are various options to add fun and personality to your tables. You could choose your favourite songs, books or films, or years and/or places that have defined your relationship so far. 

Design your seating plan  

Usually about a month before your wedding, once all guests have RSVPd and you have locked your seating plan, then you can pass it on to your stationery provider to create your table plan or if you're working towards a DIY project then you can get stuck in. Now is also the time to start writing out your place cards or get them designed.  

A day or two before the wedding when you or the venue team begin to dress your wedding tables, you can set up your table plan. Use an easel or prop at eye-level height to clearly display the table plan and position it at the entrance to the reception room so guests can quickly and easily find their seat.