Wedding planning can be hard. We're here to help make it easier - taking your questions via social media & email. Below are some of the most asked questions regarding seating your guests at the reception.
Q: We are having long tables (24’) consisting of 3 eight-foot tables pushed together. How do we do table numbers? Do we have to assign specific seats?Wedding planning can be hard. We're here to help make it easier - taking your questions via social media & email.
A: Put one number on each individual table. So, your 24’ long table will have three numbers. This will make it easier for guests to find their seat regardless of whether it’s assigned or open. That being said, with long banquet style tables, I find that it’s best to assign actual seats for several reasons. Unlike round tables where couples will normally sit next to one another, with rectangular tables you will have some couples who fill in side by side and others who will fill in across from each other. Then when you add in singles or families of odd numbers, things get even more confusing and can result in random single seats or split couples. Also, if you assign seats, you can merge groups across multiple tables. For example, you have The Smith Family of seven sitting at table #1, leaving you with one open seat. You can begin to seat the Jones family at table #1 by assigning one of the seats adjoining with table #2 to a member of the Jones family. If the seating is open at table #1, there’s no way to guarantee that those 2 seats that adjoin table #2 won’t be filled by Smiths, leaving poor Mr. Jones sitting away from his family. However, if all of your groups fit neatly into divisions of 8 people, feel free to assign tables only.
Q: We’ve decided to have a seating chart instead of cards. I started making one and then I wasn’t sure if our guests should be listed by table or in alphabetical order? - Marisol
A: This is a common mixup. Unless your wedding is very small (under 50 guests), do your seating chart alphabetical by last name. Think about it this way, your guests obviously don’t know which table they’re at (hence the chart), but they all know their own last names!
NOTE: this holds true for anyone doing escort cards too! Alphabetize them!
Q: Where do the newlyweds sit? -Anonymous
A: Wherever you want!
All kidding aside, there are several options for where you can sit. Here’s a primer:
A Head Table with Wedding Party
Pretty straightforward. You sit with your squad AND THEIR DATES. Notice how that’s all shouty with every type of formatting? Seriously, do not make your wedding party sit separate from their significant others. It sucks, especially for that one couple who’s been dating for a minute & one of them literally knows no one. If you have a lot of people in your wedding party & not a lot of room, consider….
A Partial Head Table
Release the majority of your wedding party from your grips & seat them with everyone else. Set up a small table for yourselves plus your Best People of Honor* AND THEIR DATES.
*WTF is a Best Person of Honor, you ask? Well, in the olden days it was a Best Man & Maid/Matron of Honor. Now it’s whomever is your chief wedding party person – Best Woman, Man of Honor, Head Groomsperson, etc. Don’t have BPoH’s or a wedding party? You can do….
A Head Table with Family
This option is best for people whose families get along with one another. It’s best you don’t go this route if your partner’s divorced parents hate one another, or if your parents don’t like your partner’s family or if there’s a language barrier between the families. If that’s the case, you can always just opt for the….
Couple’s Sweetheart Table
The easiest option for some people is to choose no one! A sweetheart table can eliminate awkward family situations and wedding party issues. I also like it when the couple has a place to “call home” for the reception. It’s a great spot to stash a spare pair of shoes, some breathmints (all the hugs & kisses), lip/chapstick, etc. I always make sure that there’s a fresh glass of water and something to eat on the sweetheart table too.
Regardless of who you do (or don’t) end up sitting with, try to make sure that your table is centrally located within the floor plan, so that the majority of your guests can see. It’s also a good idea to make sure that whatever is behind your table is aesthetically pleasing. Especially if you’re going to sit at your table for toasts. You probably don’t want the background of those photos to be something weird like the bathrooms.
Q: Where do we seat our vendors for dinner? My mom thinks we should seat them with guests (maybe at the single’s table), and that we should keep them in the room, in case we need them. My partner thinks we don’t need to give them seats because they’re working. I’m torn. I really want to treat my vendors well. Please help! - Susan
A: First of all, thank you for thinking of your vendors.
While I think it’s a nice gesture to give your vendors a seat at a guest table, a lot of vendors (myself included) don’t enjoy sitting with wedding guests for a number of reasons. It can be a little awkward to suddenly sit down at a table with a group of total strangers and have to make small talk.
Also, by the time dinner is served, your vendors likely haven’t eaten in HOURS and are famished. Most vendors are too busy working to enjoy noshing on your apps at cocktail hour. For me, maybe I inhaled a Kind bar in the back room while you were taking photos… Maybe I snagged one of those little sliders that were being passed on my way to checking in with the DJ…. Maybe I haven’t eaten since I left my house that morning. So, when I sit down to eat actual food, I’m going to admit something a little embarrassing here, it isn’t pretty or graceful. I’m probably in a hurry because #working, and I’m sorry to say, “Manners? Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
As for your partner’s assumption that because the vendors are working, they don’t need a seat, let me ask you this…. What would you say if your boss told you that you couldn’t have a lunch break while working? You might be able to manage sneaking in a break if you have a desk-job, but what if your job requires you to be on your feet for 12 hours? You’d probably quit (and quite possibly would be able to sue for unfair working conditions)! So, a big old “Nope!” to your partner’s idea.
I advocate for feeding your vendors in a separate room, if possible* (usually wherever cocktail hour took place). Your vendors will appreciate 20-30 minutes of downtime where they can sit, relax and refuel. It also gives us a few minutes to discuss the game plan for the rest of the party, which is super helpful. I know your mom is concerned about having your vendors present for any moments that come up, but a good timeline will have a solid window where there aren’t any moments that need to be captured, or toasts that need to be announced. No one wants their photo taken while they’re eating, and your DJ/Band usually has a dinner playlist of chill music to encourage guest conversation. Your coordinator has seen to it that the guest food service has been taken care of and that anyone with special dietary needs is settled, etc.
*If your venue does not have a separate room that the vendors can head to for dinner, you can always have a small cocktail table tucked away in an inconspicuous location for them to sit at. You could also ask your caterer if there’s room in the kitchen.
**One more note – you mentioned a singles table… check out the answer to the next question for some insight on that!
Q: Is it OK to have a “singles table” or is it weird? - Kellan
A: So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no one likes being seated at the singles table. Although it’s the easiest option for you in terms of planning, it’s awkward & obvious. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, weddings are a great place for your single friends to meet people. However, a singles table just reinforces to your solo guests that they are alone. The better option is to go through your guest list and try to find groups that will mesh well regardless of their relationship status. Who knows, your cousin’s husband may know the perfect guy for your co-worker.
Thank you all for your questions! Don’t forget to check out our Primer on Reception Seating for more tips/tricks & some helpful downloads.
Cheers & happy planning!
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