Wedding Table Seating Plan Ideas

Image: St Bosse -

Don't expect to get your table plan perfect first time, it can be a complicated task. Here are some things to consider when planning your tables' layouts, designs and guest places.

Wedding seating plan designs

Depending on the venue you choose, the shapes and sizes of tables will vary. You can talk to the venue manager / co,ordinator about how flexible they can be with the tables and how you want the layout. Once you know how many guests you are inviting and the amount of tables you'll need, it will be easier to plan out where to put guests and decorations (although you will need to know roughly how many guests the venue can accommodate before booking it so you can invite the amount of guests you wish).
Often the bride and groom sit at the head of the room on a rectangular table with the rest of the wedding party. This faces the guests, who are generally on round tables. This way the wedding party can see all their guests. The guests can chat easily to each other on round tables. If the wedding party have a round table, more consideration will need to be taken with the seating plan as the bride and groom won't want to have their backs to the other tables. For smaller, more intimate weddings, the bride, groom, wedding party and all the guests could be seated facing each other on linking rectangular tables.

Top table seating plan

The top table is the one table in particular that you should make a seating plan for. Your decision will be influenced by the table's shape and how many people can fit on it. Traditionally the bride and groom sit in the centre of a long table, facing their guests, with the rest of the wedding party. The bride's mother sits by the groom and the bride's father by the bride; and the groom's mother by the bride's father and the groom's father by the bride's mother! The chief bridesmaid will usually go on one end and the best man on the other. 
Of course the traditional top table layout does not always work these days; if you have step parents you may need to change the order of things and have a table with more spaces. The chief bridesmaid will usually go on one end and the best man on the other. Often the bridesmaid's will sit with their family, particularly if they are small. Table planning ca be a headache but remember it is up to you and your fiance who you want at the top table with you and where you want them to sit -- you could even have your own table to yourselves!

Wedding table names

The seating plan will usually be visible as guests enter the reception room and most couples just use a number system for tables which is easy for guests to see. The only problem with this is some guests may wonder why they on table 8 instead of 4!  Instead of numbers, you and your fiance may want to choose names for the tables to tie in with your wedding theme such as the colour scheme, the venue, location or the season in which you are marrying.
Otherwise you could choose names which represent something about your relationship: perhaps names of countries, cities or places you have visited together; or the names of places you've lived; things to do with the place you met; favourite songs, films, foods, restaurants or animals; things to do with a hobby/interest you share; or things to do with your honeymoon choice.
Alternatively, you may want to pick names to do with your culture or heritage or the places where you grew up. Other unrelated options include the names of famous couples, 'I Love You' in different languages, star constellations, flower names, beach names and gemstones.
Table names are good way for your guests to break the ice as they try to work out the connection with you.

Favours and centerpieces 

Wedding favours, such as confetti cones, are handed out at the wedding reception and placed as decorations on the tables. Table wedding favours can be anything that the bride and groom want to represent their wedding either to make it more fun, such as bubbles and disposable cameras, to purely decorative, such as photos and snowflakes; sweet treats like chocolates, lollies and love hearts, as well as little gifts for the guests, such as soap and wine stoppers, are also popular.
Wedding centerpieces are a feature to put in the centre of your tables. These can be matching or purposely different between tables. Typical centerpieces include candles, cake stands, birdcages, buckets, lanterns, artificial topiary trees and flowers, jugs, vases and lights. These add decoration to the table and the theme usually corresponds to your favours.

Where to seat guests

Of course it is up to you how you decide to seat your guests but as wedding seating plan etiquette goes, there are a few things you should do, namely seat couples and families together (but not relatives who argue!) as well as friends who are likely to get along.
Other than that, the wedding party are generally together (on the top table) or you may want to put them with their family. When seating friends think about their backgrounds, jobs, hobbies and interests and try to match them up with those that they will have something to talk about with. You may choose to put the groom's family together and the bride's family together or mix them up by age and interest such as cousins, teenagers, aunts and uncles and grandparents. Often immediate family will sit on the tables nearest to the top table with friends further away.

Wedding table name cards

It is up to you whether you will want to put place cards at every place or if you are happy to just allocate the tables and let guests choose their seat. If you are having a very large reception it could get a little hectic as everyone looks for their place card, whereas it may be easier if you let them choose. If you decide you don't need place cards then you may still want to write a few for the wedding party to ensure they sit where you would like them.