A beginner’s guide to wedding table plan etiquette

Rose centre piece at a wedding reception

There’s a lot to do when planning a wedding, however, there are few things quite as stressful as deciding who will sit where during your wedding reception. Organising the seating can be a challenging task, particularly if you know that some of your friends or family don’t get on. Positioning your guests in the wrong way could lead to awkwardness, tension, or even worse – a fight breaking out right in the middle of the speeches! Read on for our top wedding table planning tips.

Why have a wedding table plan?

Firstly, you should consider if you really need a table plan. Many couples choose to have one since it helps to ensure guests are sitting with people they know or at least have something in common with. This can help people to feel more relaxed. However, sometimes they are not necessary, particularly for smaller affairs or if you know everyone gets on. If you do want a table plan but want it to be more relaxed, you can always assign guests to certain tables but keep the seating flexible.

Plan your top table

Don’t be afraid to break the rules when planning your top table. Since modern weddings come in all different shapes and sizes, following the conventional layout doesn’t always work. Traditionally, the bride and groom would sit at the centre of a long table with the chief bridesmaid, groom’s father and bride’s mother on one side and the bride’s father, groom’s mother and best man on the other side.

However, not all families fit this mould so it’s really up to you how you plan your top table. Some couples choose to sit with their closest friends rather than family. Round tables can be useful since they help to avoid any suggestion of hierarchy whilst diffusing disagreements over who should sit where.

Arranging your guests

Usually, it’s a good idea to plan your tables so that your guests don’t only sit with people they know. This gives your friends and family a chance to mingle and get to know new people. It also helps solve the problem of where to sit your single friends and those who need to be sat separate from their ex!

We recommend you start by putting your guests into categories, for example, family members, work colleagues and university friends. You can then think about who is similar in age or has the same interests. As long as everyone knows one other person at the table, you can be more flexible than you think. Having a kid’s table can often be a good move since this can keep them entertained whilst letting their parents relax during their meal. You could put out games, colouring pencils and treats for them to enjoy.


Wedding table planning can be one of the worst parts of arranging your wedding. However, you’ll find that many wedding venues in Essex can help you with this, providing flexibility in regard to how you want to seat your guests. Contact Crondon Park to find out more about how we can help you plan your perfect wedding day.