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Wedding Etiquette Wednesday: Guest Seating

May 16, 2012

You’ve got your final guest list from the return of your reply cards and now it’s time to create your seating arrangements for the reception. Seating guests can be be somewhat tricky and complicated. You want to make sure everyone is happy and has a great time by seating them with people you think they’ll enjoy. Creating an effective seating chart can be helpful in determining the best seating arrangement for your guests.

Seating Scrolls vs. Escort Cards:

We asked Maria Scheel of Maria Scheel Invitations about choosing between a seating scroll or escort cards. We wanted to know if, between the two, one was more formal than the other. Maria told us that they can both be as formal or casual as you want them to be. Depending on the style of your wedding, you can use these seating arrangement methods to tie into the overall theme. We have seen couples use elaborate framed boards that tied into their black tie event, but we have also seen couples make their own boards out of travel tags and wooden boards.

Maria says:

Seating Scroll: “For a formal look, a great frame and classic monogram design does the trick. For a more casual feel, you could make a seating chart on a blackboard.”

Escort Cards: “Calligraphy is very formal and printers can do some great fonts for a more modern look. For escort cards, it’s all in the quality of the paper.”

Maria personally prefers a seating scroll, but she claims that you can’t go wrong as long as you have either one match the formality and style of your wedding.  Below is an example of what a typical seating scroll looks like:

wedding seating scroll


Head Table vs. Sweetheart Table:

Choosing whether to use a head table or a sweetheart table depends on the number of guests you have at your wedding. For small weddings, a sweetheart table has become more popular. If you use this type of table, it’s ideal to have the wedding party and their dates, along with the bride and groom’s families, close by.  A head table can be seen as the “centerpiece” of the wedding reception. If your attendants are married or have dates, they can be placed at the head table as well.

Here is an image from one of our weddings with an elegant head table as a focal point of the room

Keep in mind you will most likely not be seated the entire night. You will be up walking around speaking to all of your guests, or off somewhere being the center of attention!  Some couples might not like the idea of getting up from their table if there are other guests seated at it, so a sweetheart table would be the best option in this case.

Grouping Tables:

You want to group people together that you know will get along.

-Singles & Couples: Not all singles want to be seated with other singles. Some people think that this is a great time to set up your single friends with your other single friends, but this can be a very uncomfortable situation for these guests. Seating them with couples that they’re friends with along with a few other singles can easily create a fun table environment.

-Families: You don’t want to separate families, especially if they are bringing smaller children. If some families have children that are older (18 and up) then they can be seated at a table with other young adults, if you choose to have a young adults table.

-Elderly: Elderly guests typically do not like being seated near the speakers or the band, so seating them further away from these areas are the best options.  Although, seating further away from the band, don’t completely shun these guests to the corners and back of the room. Incorporate these guests with families, and older adults that they can interact with throughout the night.

Seating Chart Tip:

A piece of advice that we love to give our couples when it comes to creating a seating chart is creating a large diagram based on your room layout. An easy way to get started making your guest seating arrangements is to use poster board and the smaller sticky notes. If you recreated the room layout on the poster board and then write each guest’s name on a sticky note, it’s easy for you to collaborate and move guests around without having to erase or white out names.

Hope this helps when it’s time for you to sit down and decide on your guest seating arrangements 🙂

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