Planning Your Wedding Seating and Top Table


Who sits where on your wedding day?

Creating your seating plan needn’t be super stressful. Our guide will help you to create a seating plan that keeps you and your guests happy.

For the most part, planning your wedding is a happy and exciting experience, but deciding on the seating plan for your wedding breakfast can be somewhat of a headache. Luckily, we’re quite experienced at this wedding business and have some advice and guidance to help this element of wedding planning go smoothly.

Speak to your venue

The first thing you need to do is to speak to your venue to find out how the room is set up for the wedding breakfast. Are the tables round, square or rectangular? How many people can be seated at each table? How many tables can the room accommodate? What layout does your event planner recommend? For example, our wedding venue in Essex works best when set up with round tables of eight. Understanding what parameters you are working within will help you to formulate your table plan.

Top table traditions

Traditionally, the top table seats the bride and groom, the couple’s parents and the chief bridesmaid and best man. The happy couple sit in the centre flanked by the bride’s parents, then the groom’s parents, and with the chief bridesmaid and best man on either end. However, this layout may not work for everyone, particularly if you have a complicated or non-traditional family set-up so don’t be afraid to play with tradition to come up with something that works for you. Perhaps you want to adjust the seating order or have a larger top table to accommodate additional family members or guests of honour. Or maybe you’d prefer to forego the top table altogether and sit with friends or on a ‘sweetheart’ table for two.

Compiling the seating plan

When compiling the seating plan, you need to think about what guests you will seat together and what table they should be on. It can be tempting to seat guests with people they already know but weddings are a great opportunity to mingle so don’t be afraid to mix things up a little bit and give your guests the chance to meet new people. However, do be sensitive to any family politics and be sure to avoid seating people together who blatantly dislike each other.

Traditionally, males and females are seated alternately but this doesn’t always work for every occasion, so feel free to be flexible with this rule. Table positioning matters too – generally speaking, the tables closest to the bride and groom should be reserved for close family and friends; failure to follow this tradition could cause offence to some people.

You will probably go through lots of changes before you settle on your final plan, so be prepared to go through lots of paper, or use one of the many online tools that have been set up specifically for this purpose.

On the day

Once you’ve decided on the final table plan you need to think about how you will display that information for guests on the day. Giving each table a number will enable guests to easily find their table. Alternatively, many couples choose to give their tables names in a theme that means something to them. This helps to make the day more personal as well as solving the problem of a perceived hierarchy which often comes with numbered tables.

You will also need to display your seating chart in a format that guests can easily see and understand. The seating plan is usually displayed in a prominent position at your reception venue and gets a lot of attention from guests, so you will probably want to spend some time ensuring it looks as amazing as the rest of your wedding. You can tie it in with your décor or choose a specific theme – world maps, Disney films, and even periodic tables have all been used to great effect.

So, there you go – seating plans are not as scary as you might think. And always remember, it’s your wedding and you can do things how you want. So if the ‘rules’ don’t work for your wedding don’t be afraid to rip them up and blaze a new trail for a memorable day that is totally unique to you.