Wedding Seating Plans: How to work out who sits where!

how to do seating plans for wedding

If you didn’t notice… weddings are formal affairs. How many events do you attend where the place you sit is planned in advance? It’s often a hot topic between guests in the lead up to your big day – wondering where and who they’ll end up sitting with. You don’t need a degree in logistics to work out who sits where at your wedding. But it sure as hell helps.

(P.S. Read on for how you can grab a free template to help you map out where everyone is sitting)

Are Seating Plans unnecessary, or a necessary evil?

The nature of seating plans is such that it has to be left till the last few days before the wedding – right when you already have a heap of stuff on your plate.  There is always the option to go with unassigned seating, however surveys have found guests much prefer having a seating assignment.

There are a couple of ways to set up your seating plan:

Assigned Seating

If you go with assigned seating, you’ll need place cards, but the seating plan can be optional (your guests will need to go table to table to work out where they are going then).  This gives you the most control over where people sit, but it also means more work.

Assigned Tables

If you assign guests to a table only, you’ll need a seating chart.  Instead of place cards, you can look at using escort cards. Escort cards sit near the seating plan (or in replacement of the seating plan) with their name and table assignment on it. These are optional.

The top table

The top table is (very) traditionally reserved for the newlyweds, their parents, and the best man and maid of honor. It is a dated tradition, with very few weddings these days having this set up.  However, for reference, this would make a typical top table arranged from left to right, facing the guests: maid of honor, groom’s mom, bride’s dad, the bride, the groom, the bride’s mom, the groom’s dad, then the best man.

Another important tip, remember that in assigning seating arrangements, the bride should always stand or be seated to the left side of the groom. 

The typical top table these days is (from left to right, facing the guests): groomsmen, best man, the groom, the bride, maid of honor, then the bridesmaid.

Tetris with your guests: Planning your seating arrangements

This is the bit you can’t really delegate. Your fiance, your close family, and maybe a trusted bridesmaid just have to sit down and nut out who will go where.  Only you have the appropriate knowledge of past dramas and family feuds… and know which guests will hit it off.

How to plan out your seating plan

For the visual types and low-tech among us, draw tables onto a large sheet of paper, and use guest names written on post-it notes. Easy to shift people round – but also easy to lose a post-it or forget a guest.  Then plot out the assignments into Excel ready for going into the formal Seating Plan.

Seating Plan Template

Download the Seating Plan Template to help you easily work out which guests will sit where

wedding seating plan idea

If you fancy being a little bit flash, there’s software out there that can manage your whole guest list and RSVP process, right through to working out the seating plan. The negative to this is you’ll need to learn a new software.

Don’t panic if you get it wrong! At the end of the day, your guests will only be sitting each other for a couple of hours, with food and speeches to distract them.

download template for wedding seating plans

Seating plans – any advice or questions?

Are you tackling your seating plan? Are you having any problems and need a hand, or do you have any tips or advice that you’ve picked up?

Assigning Seating for a wedding Free Download - Printable Seating Plan Assignment Template wedding-seating-plans

2 thoughts on “Wedding Seating Plans: How to work out who sits where!

  1. My one and only wedding melt down was over our seating plan! I had to re-do it 3 or 4 times in the weeks leading up to our wedding as guests contacted us to ask if they could bring a +1 or weren’t able to make it at the last minute. 🙂

    1. Ugh, that’s very cheeky of your guests! I planned our weddding like a military operation but got to the seating plan and just said stuff it – and we went without one. Looking back on it (5 years down the track) I probably should’ve done it, but hey we are still just as married 🙂

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