How to Create a Wedding Reception Seating Chart in 5 Easy Steps
Do you dread making a wedding reception seating chart? Who should sit where? Will your wedding guests be seated with people they will enjoy? This step often causes my brides a lot of stress. Creating a wedding reception seating chart definitely is more of an art than a science.
Step 1: Begin by answering the following questions about your wedding reception.
- How many total wedding guests?
- Are you using round or rectangular tables?
- What is your table size? Seats 6 or 8 or 10
- What is the shape of the room where you are holding your wedding reception?
- Do you have one or more sample floor plans from your venue?
- Will you have a head table or a sweetheart table?
- Where is the dance floor located, and where is the DJ or band located?
- Do you have guests with special needs (wheelchair, high chair, etc.)?
- How many vendors (photographer(s), DJ, wedding planner, etc.) will eat dinner?
Step 2: Let’s do a little math.
Here is an example:
- 100 guests have replied that they will attend the wedding.
- 5 vendors (DJ, Photographer and an assistant, wedding planner, and the minister) will eat dinner
- Our venue recommends tables that seat 8 people.
- We have a head table that will seat 10 people (Bride, Groom, 4 Bridesmaids, and 4 Groomsmen).
100 Guests + 5 Vendors = 105 people – 10 people at the head table = 95 people who need to be seated at the tables.
95 people / 8 seats per table = 12 tables
We will need to have 12 tables plus the head table. We might want to have a 13th table to help with some of the sticky situations, like making sure that your cousin Sue and her ex-husband are seated far away from each other.
Step 3: Make a list and check it twice.
As you receive replies, record them in a spreadsheet. Have a master list with:
- Table Number – This column will be blank until you begin making your seating assignments.
- First and Last Name – if you don’t know the name of someone’s guest, put Taylor Swift and Taylor Swift’s date.
- Relation – This information can help when trying to group people at tables. It helps to know that Blake Shelton is your mother in law’s cousin, and Gwen Steffani is Blake Shelton’s date, or John Elway is your fiancé’s boss.
- Plated Dinner – Note in this column if the guest selected beef or chicken or vegetarian (or whatever your choices are). If you have a buffet or family-style, you might use this column to note any children’s meals.
- Other – use this column for additional important information about your guest, like a high chair or wheelchair or peanut allergy, etc.
Step 4 – Floorplans
Work with your venue on the floor plan. Start with the location of the dance floor and DJ or band. Next, determine where the head table or sweetheart table will be located. Then begin numbering the tables. See the example below.
Typically, the closest tables are for immediate family (parents, grandparents, and siblings), so they have an unobstructed view of the bride and groom. They are also served dinner right after the bridal party. In the example above, we could seat the bride’s family at table 1 and the groom’s family at table 2.
Tables 3 & 4 – These tables could be close family and friends, your beloved Aunt Sue and cousin Cathy. Special guests like a favorite coach, teacher or mentor who had an influence in your life might be seated at these tables.
Tables 5 & 6 – Extended family and friends. They will still have a good view of the bridal party from these seats.
Table 7 – This is a good table for the dates of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. The table is close to the dance floor so they can dance the night away.
Tables 8 & 11 – These tables are good for families with small children or older guests who don’t want to be close to the dance floor.
Table 12 is a good table for vendors. They can eat quickly and get back to their duties.
Tables 9, 10 and 13 are great for work colleagues, friends and other guests. They are close to the dance floor and can enjoy the easy access.
In this example, we only needed 12 tables but I added a 13th table to allow for a couple of tables that only have 6 or 7 people. This gives you a little flexibility but doesn’t leave you with an awkwardly empty table.
Step 5 – Pick a seat.
Once you have a plan for each table or area, you can fill in the seating chart as responses come in. Then just tweak the seating arrangements after all the responses are in.
This is a great time to involve your fiancé, your parents, and your future in-laws. They will be able to provide tips about who should or shouldn’t sit by each other and input into guests who might have similar interests. Their involvement can help avoid a family feud.
Don’t forget to double and triple check your seating chart against the list of guest responses. Even have a second set of eyes (maybe your mom or maid of honor) review it to ensure you haven’t missed anyone. You would hate to create your escort cards and have to re-do them because you missed some guests.
Now you’re ready to create your escort cards! I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, please email me. Get your free Wedding Reception Seating Chart tool.
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