Hamish Irvine

How To Create The Perfect Wedding Seating Plan

"Where are we sitting?"

It's an important question every guest will utter when it's time to take their seat at a wedding breakfast. And no matter how laid back your wedding may be, or even if it's a small and intimate affair, it's up to you to decide where you guests sit, ideally via place cards, escort cards or a seating chart.

But how do you decide where your guests should sit? Needless to say, it can be a tricky task. But we're here to help with these 5 tips:

Gabrielle McMillan

Plan it in advance

The idea of working out where to sit your crazy family members (we all have them) or how to avoid awkward moments between ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends may fill you with a sense of dread, but the more you put it off, the harder it will be. So as soon as you have your RSVPS confirmed, take the time to start planning. The last thing you want to be doing is working on the seating plan the night before you wedding.

Festoon lights added warmth and charm to the reception venue

Andy J Photography

Categorise your guests by group

The first step for planning your seating chart is to list your guests into the groups that know each other: family members, school friends, work colleges and so on. While it's inevitable that not everyone in each group will be able to sit together, this will at least help you work out the different friendship circles you'll need to consider.

Storyett Photography

Mix the groups up

Unless by some miracle all of your designated groups will fit your reception tables perfectly, it's then best to work out how you can mix the groups up. This is also a chance for your friends to get to know each other and mingle. When mixing the groups, think about the things they might have in common or who will get along well. As a rule, try and keep at least a few people together so no one is ever completely along. Also remember couples should sit together on the same table but not necessarily next to each other.

Terri Pashley

Don't be afraid to mix up generations

Just because there might be an age gap between some of your guests, don't be afraid to mix generations up as well. This approach can work well, jollying up the older generation and keeping the high-spirited younger guests in check.

Angela Ward Brown

Keep the floor plan in mind

Where the tables at your reception are located is just as important as who your guests sit next to. To ensure your friends laugh at all of the jokes during the speeches, be sure to sit them near the top table. Also think about guests who might be hard of hearing and try and sit them closer to the front, or consider older guests who may not want to sit right next to the band or speakers. If you plan on having a kids table, make sure there at least a few parents seating at a table nearby so they can keep an eye on them.

Zibi Photography

Consider having more than one top table

Traditionally, the bride and groom sit at a 'top table' with their parents, the chief bridesmaid and best man. However, if you want to avoid any complicated family politics - if your parents are divorced and are attending with their new partners, for example - it can be easier if the bride and groom host one table of family and friends and each parent hosts their own table. This way you're able to make your close family and friends feel included as well.

Skip the singles table

It may be a fun idea for you to sit you bestie next to your partner's single co-worker, but it might not be fun for your bestie. A singles table can often be more embarrassing for guests that it's worth, so avoid the temptation to matchmake on your day. Equally, avoid seating a single friend at a table full of couples. Instead, make sure tables have a good balance of couples and non-couples as to not make anyone feel uncomfortable.

Have fun with it

Once the nitty gritty details of the seating plan has been decided, it's then time to bring it to life in visual form for your guests to see. While the traditional seating plan usually features a large piece of card with guest's names listed under table numbers, today, table plans have become more and more creative from signs on trees to mini Champagne bottles. See our quirky wedding table plan ideas for inspiration.