With your wedding day just around the corner and response cards rolling in, you might be wondering how and where to seat your wedding guests. Should you seat the bridal party together, and what do you do if you’re having a cocktail party? Keep the following seating guide in mind when planning your wedding reception.

Know Who Is Attending Your Wedding

Before you start planning that seating chart, ascertain who is attending your wedding. You don’t want to worry about where to seat a friend or relative if you aren’t even sure they will attend.

Find Tables For The Bridal Party

The first step to take when seating wedding guests is figuring out where to seat the bridal party. You can opt for a traditional table, in which the happy couple sits at the center and have bridesmaids and groomsmen on either side. Another option is a sweetheart table, which is a small table exclusively for the bride and groom. The bridesmaids and groomsmen can then be seated with their own guests. Once you decide where the bridal party will sit, you can then focus on your closest relatives and friends.

Assign Tables For Close Family Members And Friends

While you want to share your special day with all of your wedding guests, you should give priority seating to close friends and family. After arranging the seating for your bridal party, seat your close family and friends near the happy couple’s table. Both sets of parents can be seated at one table if you and your fiance’s parents are close.

Another option is to seat the bride’s immediate family at one table, and the groom’s immediate family at a second table. If you go this route, make sure both tables are approximately equal in closeness to the main table; you don’t want one family to feel slighted if they are seated on the other side of the room.

Remember Guests Who Need Special Accommodations

After deciding where to seat your bridal party and close family members and friends, you should then focus on guests who may require special accommodations. A relative who is hard of hearing might appreciate being seated near the microphone so she can hear the speeches and toasts, while a guest with poor vision would likely want to sit in the brightest part of the reception venue. By keeping your guests’ needs in mind, you can find ideal locations for them to sit.

Don’t Break Up Families Or Friends

Are your college buddies or colleagues attending your wedding? Consider giving each group its own table, if possible. Guests with a shared history, such as those who attended school together, might relish the chance to catch up and talk to each other during the reception.

Separate Guests Who Don’t Get Along

Let’s say your Uncle Al likes to needle your Aunt Susie with his political views. It’s already an awkward situation among family members during the holidays, but it’s even more uncomfortable during a wedding. If you or your significant other has family members who are known to pick fights, then consider seating the individuals on opposite sides of the reception venue. While this is not a popular option, you can always decide not to invite either or both individuals in extremely contentious situations.

Keep Tables Reserved For Smaller Groups And Single Guests

Perhaps only two or three coworkers will attend your wedding. It’s not enough to keep a table just for them, but you do need to seat them somewhere. What do you do? Consider keeping one or two tables to seat the guests who you know independently of your other guests. This arrangement can also help guests feel more at ease; after all, if you seat your next-door neighbor at the same table as your extended family, your neighbor might feel out of place.

Dispense With Assigned Seating For A Small Wedding Or Cocktail Party

If your wedding celebration includes no more than about 20 guests, then consider eschewing assigned seating and opt for a large table that can seat everyone. If you are planning a cocktail party, you can also skip assigned seating and use smaller tables. Forgoing assigned seating for a small wedding or cocktail party allows guests to meet and mingle with each other.

When seating your wedding guests, keep their personalities in mind. By thinking of your guests, you can create seating arrangements that will be comfortable for everyone.