The Easy Way to Create a Reception Seating Plan

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Colorful reception seating with crossback chairs at Riverside on the Potomac in Leesburg, VA
Photo by Photography Du Jour

As full service wedding planners, there’s a lot we can do for our couples during the planning process. We can help from start to finish with sourcing your venue, creating your design, keeping track of RSVPs and of course, executing your plans on the wedding day. But while we can help with many things, there will always be some things that every couple must do themselves, like creating a reception seating plan. 

Assigning your guests a place to sit during mealtime is one of those to-dos that we unfortunately can’t take off your plate entirely, but we can share some tips and best practices on how to approach this stage of your planning process! If you’re looking for the easy way to create a reception seating plan, read on to learn more!

1. Create Guest Groups

Categorizing your guests by guest group type immediately helps to combine all guests with shared commonalities into one list. The reason why this makes your seating assignments easier is because you can more quickly assign guests to a table instead of hunting and searching all over your invite list to piece together guests who wouldn’t mind sitting next to each other.

An example would be creating a guest group called “Bride’s Family” or “Groom’s College Friends.” Hopefully guests who would fall into either group would be fine with sitting next to other guests who are also in the Bride’s family or the Groom’s college friends groups. Rather than going one by one down your invite list to try and fill up tables, group your guests by their guest group type first, and then try to seat one group type at each table.

Inevitably, there will be some spill over and two or more guest group types may need to sit together at one table. That’s fine! Remember, your guests don’t have to sit at their table all night. After the meal they can get up and continue mingling with other guests who are not sitting at their table.

Wedding guests toasting while sitting at farm tables at The Middleburg Barn Virginia wedding venue
Photo by Kir Tuben

2. Confirm Guest Table Size

In order to know how many guests from each guest group type can fit at each reception table, you’ll need to know what size tables you’ll have at the wedding. Whether your venue provides the guest tables or you’re renting tables from a separate vendor, confirm the dimensions of the tables. If you’re renting farm tables for your wedding day, like the ones we rent for weddings and events, you’ll likely have a table that’s 8 feet long and 3 feet wide. 

If you’re using round tables, they’ll likely seat anywhere from 8-12 guests depending on the size of the table. You’ll also want to think more about how much space you’ll need on the table for other items like place settings and floral arrangements. The size of the table and how much room you have to play with after accounting for other decor items will tell you how many guests you can comfortably assign to that table. 

By thinking about your wedding floor plans like a pro before you start assigning guests a table, it will be less likely that you’ll have to make multiple updates and changes to your seating assignments. Even worse, you can avoid paying extra fees for having to redo your seating chart or display after you’ve already sent your final info to production or your calligrapher has already started on your place cards.

Unique and fun geometric speckled seating chart display at Birkby House wedding
Photo by: Bakerture

3. Assign Table Numbers and Give Guests a Seat!

With a copy of your floor plan in hand, it’s time to determine which tables to assign each group type! First, note where you’ll be sitting. Will you have a sweetheart table, where just you as the couple will sit together? Will you have a larger head table and sit with your wedding party? Wherever you choose to sit, make sure it’s in a central location where all your guests can see! The day is about celebrating your love, so you want to be the focal point!

Once you know where in the room you’ll be sitting, note where your band or DJ will be located. As your planning team, this is something we’d help with to make sure we arrange your reception layout to place your entertainment vendor in the optimal location for everyone to enjoy the party.

From there, place the most important people to you at the tables closest to where you’ll be sitting during the reception. Parent tables or other wedding VIPs usually sit at the tables on either side of your sweetheart or head table. Assign those tables as number one and number two. Guests who love to party and who don’t have hearing sensitivities are better placed closer to the band or DJ. Avoid placing elderly guests, babies or any guests who can’t handle loud noises at tables near any speakers.

Continue assigning guest groups to each table until you’ve come to the end of your guest list!

Bride and Groom first dance during reception at Riverside on the Potomac Virginia barn wedding venue
Photo by Photography Du Jour

Bonus Tip for Creating Your Reception Seating Plan

While you know your guests best and can better identify seating arrangements for all of them, we’d recommend leaving the floor plan creation to your wedding planner. When our team works with our couples, we create a solid layout for the entire reception space and then hand that floor plan over to the couple to create the reception seating plan. If your floor plan is not right to begin with, you’ll still end up having to rework your seating assignments if you may need to add or subtract tables or can’t fit as many guests at each table as you initially thought. 

Save yourself the hassle and know everything is right from the start by consulting with your planning team!

Want help with creating a reception floor plan you can be confident is right? Send us a note to talk about package options or hourly planning sessions!

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