Top tips for deciding who sits where at a wedding

Are you deep in the depths of wedding planning? Unsure about who sits where at a wedding ceremony or reception? When you take all the complex family dynamics, friendship groups, and personalities into account, wedding seating can sometimes feel like a complicated chess match. In today’s blog, we delve into all things seating arrangements - from timeless traditions to modern twists that will inject a sense of personality to your special day.

Who sits where at a wedding ceremony?

Before diving head first into wedding seating plans, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what happens at a UK wedding ceremony

You should firstly focus your attention on where the wedding VIPs will sit i.e. parents, close family members, and the bridal party. These seating arrangements can vary depending on religious beliefs and faiths. For example, in Christian weddings, the bride’s parents usually sit in the front row to the left of the aisle, with the groom’s parents sitting on the right. 

Close family members such as grandparents, siblings, aunties, uncles and cousins will usually spread across the next two rows. Non-VIP guests of the bride then traditionally spread out across the left of the aisle, with the groom’s guests on the right.

Nowadays, mingling across groups is encouraged, so don’t worry if guests mix between the two sides. This will give guests the opportunity to mix and socialise with others, which is ultimately what a wedding is all about; all parties joining together to celebrate the happy couple.


Who sits at the top table at a wedding?

Unsure about who sits at the top table at a wedding? The top table, also known as the head table or table one, can encompass many different arrangements. Newlyweds can choose to sit at a long banquet-style head table or around a round table in the centre of the room. Alternatively, they may retreat to their own sweetheart table and enjoy spending some quality time together. 

The wedding party and their significant others typically join the bride and groom at the top table. The newlyweds would sit in the centre, with the best man sitting on the bride’s left side. The maid of honour would then sit to the right side of the groom.

Where does the family sit at a wedding reception?

The newlywed’s close family members including siblings, grandparents, and cousins should all sit together. Traditionally, the bride and groom’s family members would sit on separate tables. However, feel free to mix and match between the family tables if you know that certain guests will get on well together.

Round tables set for the wedding breakfast

Where do friends, colleagues & other guests sit?

Other guests outside the family should be encouraged to mingle between themselves. We highly recommend seating guests together according to ages, personalities and common interests. If you can, try to seat guests with at least one other person they know. But if this isn’t possible, make sure any solo guests are sat with friendly, approachable people.


Which table shape should I choose?

Round Tables

These are the most common types of tables found at wedding receptions, seating between 6 and 12 guests. They can be spread around the room in any formation you wish, providing plenty of opportunities for circulating amongst your guests. Round tables allow maximum capacity at a venue, as they typically require less space than rectangular tables. There’s a huge range of linen colours available to choose from for round tables, offering a beautiful yet traditional look.

However, the major drawback is that it can be difficult to talk to everyone seated on a round table. As Mylie Gardner, one of our wedding coordinators here at Lapstone Barn, points out: “Couples often worry that the long trestle tables are not as sociable as rounds, but I would strongly argue the opposite. On a round table, especially the larger ones, guests across the table are too far away to talk to. You find yourself mainly engaging with the people just either side of you.”

Rectangular Tables

Rustic trestle tables set up for the wedding breakfastRectangular tables, also known as banquet tables, are more formal looking and can seat up to a dozen guests. They can be spread in a horseshoe formation or across the length of the room for a more contemporary arrangement. Runners and garlands look fantastic spread along the full length of the tables, and there’s no need for traditional tablecloths.

They’re also a better option for socialising. “On a long table, you can chat to the person opposite, diagonally opposite, next to and even behind as some guests will be back-to-back”, says Mylie. However, it’s worth noting that it may be more difficult for guests to circulate around the room, as they’ll need to travel along the length of the tables.


Plan your dream wedding at Lapstone Barn

Lapstone Barn offers the ideal blank canvas to host the wedding day of your dreams. Say “I do” in front of your nearest and dearest at our Grade-II listed Stone Barn, before retreating to our reception barn to socialise and party the night away. Our expert team of wedding planners are extremely flexible, providing you with the freedom to design your dream day, your way.

Spaces are limited, so get in touch to arrange your viewing of our beautiful wedding venue in the Cotswolds today!

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