The Wedding Seating Plan

For anything larger than a small, informal reception, a wedding seating plan is likely to make a significant difference to the success of your reception. A wedding seating plan will almost certainly help things run more smoothly.

Guests are saved from the mad panic of trying to find a seat on a table with their friends/family, and you can place people where they'll be happiest! The wedding meal may last for 2-3 hours and is a significant part of the day. If your guests are sitting with people they get along with, it will make a big difference to their enjoyment of the day.

Traditional Wedding Top Table Layout

The Wedding Top Table:
Who Sits Where?

In the UK, the Bride and Groom would traditionally sit in the middle of the wedding top table flanked by the Bride's parents, then the Groom's parents and finally by the Best Man and Chief Bridesmaid.

Don't feel you need to stick with tradition though as there are plenty of alternative top table layouts you can use, including the US-style head table.

Some layouts can be particularly useful when parents have split up and are possibly with a new partner. In many cases it is helpful to abandon the restrictions which tend to come with top table plans. Perhaps a romantic 'sweetheart' table for two, or even sitting with friends, rather than family might be a solution? After all, it's your wedding!

Seating Planning Software

TopTablePlanner - Wedding Seating Plan Software

Using a simple-to-use computer-based seating planner such as TopTablePlanner you'll be able to make major changes with a few clicks, and minor changes in much less time than it would take to draw it all out again by hand.

Printing copies off for the venue is quick and simple too. When it comes to wedding seating plans, thank goodness for the 21st century!

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Did you know that in a recent online poll, 95% of people said that as a guest they'd prefer to have a wedding seating plan?

6 Tips for Successful Seating Plans

Tables setup for a wedding reception

Want more tips? See our top 30 tips for arranging your seating plan page.

If you remember only one thing...
Do what you think would make you and your guests most comfortable.

Creating the Wedding Seating Plan

Wedding Seating Plan
Wedding seating plan created using TopTablePlanner

When should you start your wedding seating plan? The answer is - as soon as possible! Certainly don't wait for all of your RSVPs to come in or you'll end up having a huge rush to try to organise the whole seating plan at the last moment. You'll know about your close friends and family, so start working out a seating plan as soon as possible.

It's always a good idea to visit the venue and ask them about the availability of tables, whether there are long tables, round, or both. The venue may be able to offer advice on the best way to fit tables into the room. Knowing what's available, and having a general idea about possible seating plans will allow you to start thinking about your own plan.

If you intend to draw a plan out on paper - make sure you have a huge pad, plenty of pencils and a lot of time! There will almost certainly be numerous revisions - some major, some minor. If you decide to use sticky bits of paper, this can become very fiddly. Save time, spare yourself a headache and reduce waste paper - use a more dynamic solution such as Excel, or an online wedding seating planner such as TopTablePlanner.

Seating Plan Design Inspiration

Periodic Table wedding seating planProminently displayed at your reception venue, your seating plan is likely to get a lot of attention from your guests. Use design ideas from your colour scheme or theme if you have one and perhaps try and match the look of your other wedding stationery.

If you really want a seating plan that'll get all your guests talking, how about using one of these ideas? There are plenty more ideas on our blog and Pinterest board too.

If you fancy something a little bit different, how about a Periodic Table themed seating plan!

London Underground wedding seating planEach 'element' indicates an individual guest with colour coding used to show which table they are sitting at. This example has codes to show meal choice and table number too.

One of my personal favourites is a London Underground themed seating plan. Each line is used to indicate a particular table, with stations becoming guest names. The London Tube map certainly has an iconic design, but there’s no reason why you couldn't base your plan on your own local transport system.

If your wedding has an English country garden or vintage theme, a birdcage seating plan could be perfect. It could double up as a noticeboard for after your wedding too.

World map themed seating planIf you've visited some interesting places together, a world map themed seating plan would be perfect! It's really easy to make yourself too! Simply frame a map of the world and pin a luggage label to it for each table, each one being named after place you have visited.

For a really 'wow' seating plan, an ice sculpture is going to take some beating! It's likely to be a talking point for some years to come. The seating plan is frozen inside special slow melting ice which should remain looking stunning for around 6 to 8 hours.

Finally, the stunning plan below uses a panoranic photo of a New York skyline. Each table is named after a landmark building with the top table being named "The Empire State Building". You can read more about 'Landmark' themed table plans here.

New York skyline seating plan

Article written by Adam. See his profile.

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