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Table Planning

Planning who will sit where is sometimes seen as a difficult task, but really it shouldn't be! As far as possible you will want to make sure that everyone is seated at suitable tables, but it's not always possible to have an absolutely perfect table plan so accept that you will have to re-arrange your original table plan a few times.

We recommend that you ask someone else for a second opinion, but try not to involve too many people in the table planning process.

Things to think about before you get started:
  • will you have a top table
  • what types of table options are available at your venue eg circular, rectangular etc
  • how many people can be seated at each table
  • when does your table plan need to be finalised by? Most venues only require your table plan a few days before your wedding so that it is up-to-date. If your table plan is being printed by someone other than your reception venue you will have to allow more time.
  • If there are children at your wedding, will they be eating in the same room as the other guests or will they be eating elsewhere
  • Will your reception venue print out your table plan and place cards or do you need to arrange to do this yourself or have them prepared elsewhere. Remember, if the bride is changing her name then her placecard should be in her new name.
  • which guests have confirmed that they are attending
  • If you are not using table numbers, agree what your table names will be as this will make it easier for you when you are talking about who is on which table. Table name themes vary from countries, places, mountain names, animals etc to things which have more meaning to the couple such as destinations they've visited together or places where their guests have come from.

    Top Table
    From left to right, the top table usually consists of:

    Chief Bridesmaid / Father of the Groom / Mother of the Bride / Groom
    Bride / Father of the Bride / Mother of the Groom / Best Man

    If your family is more complicated than this you may prefer to change this. One consideration should be that any person who is making a speech should be in a place where they can be seen and heard. Many reception venues will use a microphone so make sure that it is available if a guest who is not sitting on the top table is making a speech.

    How to plan your tables
  • Use a blank piece of paper for each table.
  • Write each guest's name on to a post-it note (make sure you don't miss anyone out!) and start sticking their names against tables. Traditionally guests will sit next to their partners in an alternating male / female pattern.
  • When you want to make a change, you can easily swap where a guest is sitting on a table or move them to another table.
  • Check again to make sure you haven't missed any guests.
  • Pass your table plan to someone on the bride's family and the groom's family to check that they are happy with their part of the table plan.
  • Once you've agreed who will be on each table you will need to plan where each table will be in the room. For example, tables of closer relatives will usually be nearer to the top table than more distant relatives and friends. Tables with young children are often closer to the door in case a speedy exit is required!

    And once you've finalised your table plan don't worry if there are last-minute changes to your guests after that - the staff at your venue will make sure that everyone has a seat!

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