Don't panic! Suggestions for top tables and stress free seating plans

Creating a seating plan for your wedding can be the most difficult and daunting task of all. With such a variety of guests attending weddings it can be difficult to know who to seat where. Close family, distant family, best friends, school friends, work colleagues, your boss and his wife and the man next door…. And that’s before you’ve even started thinking about a kid’s table!

The top table is by far the main event and requires the most thought when it comes to seating plans. With the way modern families are working nowadays it can be tricky to give members of your family and your bridal party the seat they should, by tradition have.

Photo: Top table planner

Traditionally, on a long top table, the bride and groom will be seated in the middle with the bride’s parents either side. The bride’s mother is usually seated next to the groom with the bride’s father sat next to his daughter. If the top table consists of just the bride, groom and parents, running from left to right in traditional order it would be: Groom’s father, Bride’s mother, Groom, Bride, Bride’s father, Groom’s mother. It is also traditional to have your chief bridesmaid and best man sat at the top table too. These would be sat on either end of a long table.

This is merely tradition and rarely stuck to in this day and age. More and more couples have step parents sat at the top table or may have someone else in place of their own parents, such as godparents or other members of their bridal party.

Photo: Shutterstock

My own top table was round rather than long and my mother was sat next to my father, with my husband’s father sat next to his son and his stepmother next to her husband. Such the modern family we are!

What’s important is that you have who you want sat closest to you and if you are close to your parents and they’ve helped out with wedding preparations be it financially or time wise, then they deserve that special place next to you.

Feuding families and differences of cultures and social circles are something that must also be considered when planning your tables and seating. Work friends will traditionally be sat together, as will non-work friends with ages and marital status taken into consideration. Young singletons will usually be placed together in the hope of a wedding romance and older couples should be sat with like-minded individuals in order to keep the table conversation flowing.

Photo: Kristyn Hogan

The closest family members (in theory) should be sat closest to the top table for the best “view”. Everyone wants a clear view of the bride and groom, the main people at the event. The closer your table is to the top table then you know how valued you are by the couple!

If you’re having children at your wedding then a special children’s table should be assigned for the under 13’s. This keeps all children together, makes it more fun for them and allows parents to enjoy themselves for the day. At weddings, anyone over 13 should really be considered an adult and either sat with other younger adults or with their parents. Imagine yourself as a 13 year old…. Would you really want to share a table with a 5 year old and a packet of crayons?!

Photo: My Wedding Concierge

Ultimately, you can’t please everyone. Families’ feud, friends don’t know each other and everyone wants to be closest to the top table. In my eyes, if it gets too stressful, then a less formal buffet style barn dance may be the way to go!

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