How to Choose a Seating Arrangement for a Wedding or Dinner Party


Choosing a seating arrangement is more than just deciding who will sit where. Before you can even start putting names at the tables, you have to decide what kind of tables you want. This will largely depend on the size of your tents and the format of your party.

If you are planning a wedding, you will likely have a dance floor, which will affect the placement of the tables and chairs. A smaller dinner party may seem easier to plan, but with a number of different tables to choose from, knowing which one to choose can be difficult. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of tables and arrangements available.

Banquet Style

At a wedding, the wedding party usually sits at a long, banquet style table, with seats only on side to look out over their guests. For a small wedding or dinner party, you may want a single banquet table for all of the guests. This is a great way to keep everyone together, to ensure that everyone has a chance to interact with one another. Banquet style tables can feel very communal and will encourage chatting, even if it is just to ask someone to pass the mashed potatoes.

Banquet style tables come in many different lengths and widths, so it will be easy to find one that will seat all of your guests comfortably. Most tables will be rated with how many guests they can seat, so be sure not to pack your guests too tightly together, or eating will be impossible and people will only get to know each other because they have elbowed their neighbor in the ribs.

Round Tables

Round tables are the most traditional style for weddings. They are also the best option for large parties and for creating plenty of seating and eating room around a large dance floor. Round tables also some in variety of sizes and are rated by how many guests they can seat.

Square Tables

While square tables are less common at a party or wedding (because they can make the venue look and feel like a restaurant), they do have a number of advantages. Square tables may fit into a space better than round tables, and make better use of smaller venues.

Standing Tables

Standing tables are usually just for cocktail hour, before a sit-down meal, but if your wedding or dinner party is not strictly providing dinner, these can be a great substitute for traditional seating. While you may still want to provide seating as a relief from dancing or socializing, standing tables that give guests somewhere to set a plate as they eat, can be more than sufficient if you want to keep the party moving. These table should be at least waist high.

Arrangements around a Dance Floor

Arranging your tables and chairs around a dance floor can be one of the most difficult parts of decorating your venue. You need enough seats that everyone can sit when they get tired, but you also do not want to obstruct the dance floor. If your venue does not have enough space to arrange the tables, chairs, catering station, stage, and dance floor, you might consider getting a larger venue.

How to Choose Seating Assignments

Deciding who will sit where can be a time-consuming and laborious process, unless you follow a few simple rules. Especially if you have a large wedding or party, you want to give every person a specific place to sit, so when dinner starts, there is not mad rush or awkwardness as your guests attempt to find a seat. If your caterer has prepared different options for your guests to choose from, having a specific seating arrangement can be very helpful as they bring out the meal. Here are a few tips to make this process as easy as possible.

1. Start as early as possible. While you may not have all of your RSVPs in yet, start with who you know will be coming. At the very least, do not leave seat arrangements for the night before the wedding. A week before the wedding, you should have all of the RSVPs you are going to get—so start arranging names.

2. Go high tech. You probably already have a computerized list of all of your invited guests. Add an additional column and include how each guest is related to you. This will make it easier to guess who knows one another and what table arrangements are most likely to work. You could simply segment the list based on tables at this point, creating six or eight or ten-person blocks (depending on how many seats you have at each table), until all of the tables are filled.

3. Go low tech. If you prefer to have a physical representation, print off your guest list (with relationship column), and draw out your seating arrangement on a large piece of poster board. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should accurately reflect the number of tables and chairs in your venue. Then, start penciling in names, or, better yet, writing them on post-it notes and putting them on specific tables or chairs. That way, they’ll be easy to move around.

4. Don’t worry so much. If there are warring factions, it shouldn’t be difficult to keep them apart. Separate tables or even separate sides of the room won’t be hard to achieve. Other than that, have fun with your arrangements! Be a match-maker and make sure the single men and women sit together. Let the ring bearers and flower girls sit with their parents. And create a fun playlist or hire a great DJ so even if the seating arrangements aren’t perfect, guests won’t be spending that much time in the chairs!

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