How to Create a Wedding Table Plan: The Ultimate Guide

Top tips for creating a table plan for your wedding reception without the stress

Creating the wedding table plan is the task that many brides-to-be find most daunting when organising their big day; families and friends are complicated and getting the social dynamic right at a wedding can be a bit of a minefield. Do you seat people together with other guests that they know, or mix it up and keep your fingers crossed that everyone gets along?

Have a read of our top tips for creating a table plan ad you’ll have guests mingling away like they’ve been BFFs for years.

Say cheers to an amazing table plan
Say cheers to an amazing table plan

First things first

If you’re drawing a total blank on how to get started on your table plan, start by looking at your guest list, and grouping guests together on how you know them, i.e. school friends, work friends, university friends and so on - you could even create a reunion vibe if some of them haven’t seen each other in years. Just make sure they haven’t been avoiding anyone on purpose.

Keep age and interests in mind

While you love your university pals and your great aunt Mabel equally, chances are, if you seat them together, they won’t have bundles in common, especially after they’ve exhausted talking about how beautiful you look, and how wonderful the day has been so far.

Avoid awkward silences by seating people together who have things in common. If your work bestie travelled South America last summer, seat her with your cousin who is heading to Brazil later in the year - even total strangers can bond over shared interests.

Image | Colin Murdoch Studio
Image | Colin Murdoch Studio

Avoid the singles’ table

Forget seating all your single guests on one table and hoping for the best; it can feel obvious to them and make for an uncomfortable situation.

If there are singles you particularly think what get along swimmingly, seat them together on friendly, inclusive tables where they can talk to everyone, and hopefully they’ll naturally gravitate towards each other - no awkward match-making here, thank you!

Do make a table plan

It can be tempting to bin off the idea of a seating plan altogether and let guests find their own seat, but we strongly advise against this. It can cause anxiety for guests - nobody wants to relive the high school horror of eating along in the canteen, or tentatively asking “is this seat taken?”

If assigning seats is stressing you out, just assign tables and let your guests choose where they sit upon their designated table.

If you ask us though, creating a seating plan and creating interesting name cards is all part of the wedding planning fun. 

Image | Andrea Pitti
Image | Andrea Pitti

Don’t forget partners

If you’re seating your bridal party at the top table, make sure to take their partners into consideration, especially if they don’t know anyone else at the wedding.

It could be more sensible to do away with the top table and make sure your bridesmaids’ husbands or partners don’t feel left on a limb, seated with people they don’t know.

READ MORE: 19 thoughts you have when your partner is part of the wedding party and you’re not

Parental guidance

Parents traditionally sit at the top table at weddings, but don’t feel you have to follow this rule. It can be tricky if your parents are separated or have new partners, so feel free to keep your top table to just you and your new husband if you want, or for close friends. It’s your day, have it your way!

READ MORE: How to keep the peace between divorced parents when you get married

If your parents have insisted you invite their friends along to the wedding, get ma and pa involved in the table planning and have them choose where their friends sit. They’ll have a clearer idea if their pals will want to be in the thick of the action, or a little further away where they can sit and observe.

Consider the elderly

With this in mind, try and seat grandparents and other elderly guests a little further from all the noise - if they’re hard of hearing they’ll struggle to be able to listen to the conversations and could be left feeling isolated.

Image | Ria Mishaal
Image | Ria Mishaal

Be tactful

Lastly, if you know two of your guests don’t always get along, for the sake of everyone, avoid sitting them at the same table. We know, they should be able to put their differences aside for your special day, but it’s easier to seat them apart than to break up a spat. Trust us.

Now that your table plan is done and dusted, why not check out our ideas for unique wedding table names - we promise you'll feel inspired!


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18/10/2014 at 09:42

Despite having a small wedding we have still opted for a table plan. Seating everyone with therir own partners children and grandchildren rather than forcing people to sit and chat with strangers, makes me feel awfully uncomfortable eating in front of strangers. Despite the RSVP nightmares that weddings have, mine included...making the tabke plan really brought home not only how close and real the wedding feels now but also how blessed I am to have family and friends who want to share my day with me.

The tableplan is a lovely part of the wedding, to make and to see standing proudly at the door to your dining/reception room. I can only hope that people will be ultimately happy with my seating decisions and if not...hey its only 90mins before the interval and then they can go where they please with whom they like til disco time


18/10/2014 at 07:44

We are quite lucky in the sense that all of our families get on but we are still having a seating plan because some of our friends are vegetarians or have special dietary requirements. I think it would be hard work for the staff at the venue to try and find them and too risky/awkward to the guests if they receive food they can't eat.

If we had a buffet style meal I don't think that i would bother.


17/10/2014 at 23:28

I agree with the point made previously, having a seating plan means people who want to sit together can - if you've got a family of 5 who come in last and all that's left is 1s and 2s on various tables then they're either going to have to split up or people are going to have to reshuffle.  I do totally disagree with people getting overly creative and splitting people up all over the show though...we did mix some people from each of our families, but kept them as groups, and they were people who'd already met and got on well.  I went to a friend's wedding where me and the other three of my friends + two partners (we knew no one else there) were split across three tables...  She sat two friends on one table and didn't sit them next to each other as well which I thought was odd..?

Also, being purely practical, the tables were already set for the number of people who were to sit at it.  And our guests had chosen their menus in advance, so the venue needed to know where they were sitting to facilitate this.


17/10/2014 at 20:14

I totally agree with the second point- why on earth would you make people sit through a 2 hour meal (or more sometimes) with people they don't know? Chatting to new people is for the disco and 'gap', not when you want to sit back, relax and eat in peace, without having to make all the polite stranger chit chat. Sit people with their partners and friends, I certainly will be!


17/10/2014 at 15:36

I think part of the 'point' behind is table plan is just a logistical one - people turn into sheep when they have to decide where to sit and sort of stand around not moving and creating a crowd because they don't want to be the first people to sit down! By giving them a place, they don't have to make a decision. I think having a table plan is therefore especially useful for a 'big' wedding as it can be a nightmare if everyone mills around and doesn't want to sit down because they aren't sure where to sit.

I've been to a wedding where we were assigned to a table of 10 but we could sit where we wanted on the table. I really liked that because, as a guest, it meant I didn't have to 'choose' a table but I wasn't made to sit next to certain people.


17/10/2014 at 14:26

We are having a table plan purely for the same reasons as Hydrogirl, although we aren't having place settings because im not bothered which seat people are in as long as they are at their allocated table.. too many people that dont get on coming to my wedding!


17/10/2014 at 13:54

My thought is if you see each other & hate each other, there's no chance you'd elect to sit together. And if you like each other, there's a good chance you would. I just think people can figure this out on their own. 

My guests from work all figured out how to sit together. My husband's family (90% of our guests) grouped themselves together comfortably. And the few family I invited parked themselves at our table. If people wanted to pull up extra chairs to make an 8-person table a 9-person table instead (and they don't mind feeling crowded), I don't care, go for it.  I had a headcount for the caterers, so however my guests wanted to slice it and dice it, it didn't matter. They could chill out and eat on the balcony with no chairs if it suited them!


17/10/2014 at 12:30

I think not having one can cause lots of problems as if people come in last, for example if you 8 good friends from work that you know would want to sit together, two might not be able to fit on the table and be elsewhere. I think table plans can be used to make sure guests are sat with people they get on with or at least you know they probably will and therefore enjoy the meal more.! x


17/10/2014 at 10:23

I agree Kate but I think it totally depends on the politics and personalities of your guests and the number you have. Table plans aren't traditional in Italy and they didn't used to have them, at least where I'm from (although they seem to these days) which worked great in most cases but it actually this caused a lot of problems at my aunt's wedding and the father of the groom ended up with a seat on his own away from all his family and there was a big hassle to re-shuffle to get him a seat with his son and family.

There is a lot of politics in my family so I would definitely need a table plan to keep certain people away from each other. Yes, they should be adult enough to suck it up and get on with each other for the day but my worry is that if the wrong thing is said by one of them then it would at the very least cause a lot of tension, and at the worst a full-scale argument. We also have a family member who I absolutely despise due to some of the despicable things that he has done to my mum, however due to politics (basically we have managed to put it behind us for the sake of our grandparents and need to keep up the front for them), I need to invite him but I want that man as far away from me and my mum as possible, so at least with a table plan I can make sure he's sitting no where near us. In fact, most of the 'politics' in my family revolves around him and it's him that I'll be keeping a number of people away from, most of it stemming from ill-feelings from other family members due to what he did to my mum. It would be so much easier if I could just not have him but that would just cause more trouble and stir up a lot of issues from the past.


17/10/2014 at 09:39

i felt i had to do a table plan as i had two divorced couples (with their new partners) who would be able to be close to each other and didnt want to risk them feeling awkward and accidently sitting near each other on the day

also i wanted to make sure the certain people who dont talk to each other were away from each other for their comfort too. also i knew some guests well enough that some would chat as much with some or be too quiet and i knew smaller groups (not enough to fill  a table alone) would get on with certain people they had never met before (infact one of the couples i put on a table full of a group that had known each other for years got on so well that now they socalise and golf together))

i guess its more a group table assignment rather than an actual seating plan thats needed as many people change about the name places if they dont like it


16/10/2014 at 14:17

My table plan was a total hit: sit wherever you want. Why on earth would I want to play teacher and tell grown adults (who have come at their expense) where to sit? What difference does it make to me where they sit? If they don't sit where they are assigned, does the "wedding bouncer" throw them out?
Seems like a silly thing to spend time stressing about.

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