How to Make a Wedding Seating Chart (Without Stressing Out)

seating chart posters
Photo: Meg Smith

Some wedding-planning tasks are easier to cross off your list than others—but even the more difficult tasks can be done with minimal stress. Take making a seating chart for your wedding, for example. Many find arranging their guests among their wedding's reception tables to be a total headache, but it doesn't have to be that way. We're here to walk you through exactly how to make a wedding seating chart.

First things first: Start devising your wedding seating plan about two to three weeks before the big day, once you've (hopefully) heard back from everybody you've invited. To begin, you'll need to scour your RSVPs and figure out who's actually coming (which is who you need to seat). Once you have that list, you'll also need to decide on a wedding seating layout—what types of tables do you want to have and how are you going to arrange them in your reception space? If you're struggling to answer these questions yourselves, you can always consult your wedding planner. You can also turn to other factors, like your budget and venue, to figure out what makes the most sense in terms of furniture rentals and the like.

From there, you'll settle on where to place each person. Unfortunately, there's no steadfast approach for deciding who gets what chair, but the following tips will help you navigate a handful of situations. (Remember: You can always assign guests a particular table instead of a specific seat if that makes it easier!)

01 of 11

Choose Your Table Shape

eliza peter wedding reception
Paige Jones Photography

Once your guest list is finalized, you'll need to determine how many tables you'll need and how many people will be seated at each one. Keep in mind that shape plays an important role. While rectangular ones make it easier for guests to chat, round tables might be simpler for you to sort (you'll only need to pay mind to who's sitting directly next to one another).

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Put Pen to Paper

Nathan Westerfield

It's helpful to literally map out your seating chart. You can laminate pieces of paper printed with table shapes that you can label with dry erase markers, or you can use an online tool like All Seated. If you prefer color coordinating, divide your guest list into categories arranged by color (your college friends might be represented with pink, his in blue, and family in yellow, for example) and write out everyone's names on the appropriate colored Post-it flag. Then, arrange—and rearrange—them on photocopied outlines of your table arrangements.

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Seat the Two of You First

porsha terry wedding jamaica bride groom reception kiss black white
Jillian Mitchell Photography

Since it's your big day, your table should be centrally located. Typically, you'll sit at a table by yourselves with your wedding party or with your parents and a few close relatives and friends. You also have the option of sitting at a sweetheart table, which is reserved for just the couple of the hour.

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Then Seat Your Wedding Party

daniela emmanuel wedding maryland reception
Winsome + Wright

Depending on the size of your wedding party—and how many of them invited plus-ones—you can seat everyone together at one long head table, or divide the group among several tables that are situated near you and the groom.

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Put Family First

Olivia Leigh Photographie

After you seat yourselves, place your parents somewhere close (unless they're sitting with you). Unlike the ceremony, where the groom's and bride's sides traditionally sit separately, at the reception, you can mix things up and seat everyone together.

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Ask Your Parents for Help

Parents at Rehearsal Dinner
Sylvie Gil Photography

Odds are that you don't know every one of your parents' friends as well as they do. Include them in the process by giving them a say as to where their friends should be seated.

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Find Common Ground

James Moes

When seating remaining guests, put people who know each other together instead of intentionally trying to mix things up. That said, when placing people who may not know each other at one table, consider their life experiences and interests. If you know your best friend, Rachel, is a hardcore hockey fan, you might seat her next to John, who played in college. Your ultimate goal is to create an atmosphere where your guests can have fun.

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Avoid a Singles' Table

Mint Photography

Although love is in the air, don't be tempted to play matchmaker and seat all of the single guests together. Instead, intersperse single guests among couples, focusing on common interests, not relationship status.

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Bring Children Together

kids table
Cassidy Carson Photography

Kids like being around other kids, so a kid's table, and similarly, one for teenage guests, is a good way for everyone to have some fun, parents included!

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Practice Sensitivity

Whitney Neal Photography

In terms of table placement, consider your guests' specific needs. Grandparents will likely have a better time in a well-lit area away from the band and speakers within view of the dance floor, but not in the thick of it.

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Get Creative With Table Assignments

risa ross wedding brooklyn new york seating chart
Fiona Conrad

Once you finally settle on seating assignments (phew!), use the seating chart and table numbers as opportunities to get personal. Whatever their form, arrange your guests' names in alphabetical order with legible table assignments in a format that will guide guests to their seats smoothly.

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