We received a great tweet from a bride-to-be yesterday asking us for advice on seating her parents and their new partners on their top table.

This is a dilemma faced by many soon to be newlyweds and I thought it would be a good idea to write an article about it to share our advice.

The Top Table Dilemma

Working out who is sitting on the top table, and where, can often be the trickiest part of arranging the seating plan for a wedding. It’s often the case that the Bride’s and/or Groom’s parents have separated and perhaps now have new partners. It’s possible that separated parents may not be speaking too, and despite the fact that they should be able to behave like adults on what is your special day, sadly that’s not always the case! Somehow you need to accommodate all of them on your top table without offending or upsetting anyone.

A traditional top table layout would look as follows, with males and females sitting alternately along the table:

Traditional Top Table

In Lottie’s case, she needs to accommodate both her parents and their new partners on her 10 seat top table along with the Groom’s parents. The top table could easily be extended in a couple of different ways to accommodate her parents’ new partners:

Alternative Top Table 1

Alternative Top Table 2

Some Other Ideas

If the more traditional top table doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other ideas too!

Sweetheart table
Popular in the US, a romantic table for two gives you a few precious moments together while you’re eating. Parents (and their partners) could be asked to host VIP tables close by so that they still feel important.

Musical chairs
Why not think about having different courses at different tables! Leave a couple of spare chairs on the tables your parents are hosting and have your starter, main and pudding with different guests.

Bridal party
In the US, traditionally it’s the bridesmaids and groomsmen (ushers) who sit with the Bride and Groom on the top table. Again, you could ask your parents to host VIP tables close by.

Whatever you do, remember that it’s your day and you need to do whatever works best for you. While it’s good to accommodate the wishes and feelings of all your guests in your seating plan, sometimes compromises will need to be made and your parents, relatives and close friends should understand this.

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A little bit about Adam, founder of TopTablePlanner...

Adam has been working in the wedding industry since 2006. After discovering that arranging the seating is one of the hardest parts of planning a wedding, he launched TopTablePlanner in 2007. See his Google+ profile.