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Sit Down to Dinner With Zero Fights

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Assigning your guests to seating for the wedding reception requires skill, diplomacy and guesswork. If you don’t make the right decisions the result could be a frantic variation of musical chairs as everyone vies for a desirable spot.

“Seating guests is a common issue,” says Rosanna McCollough, general manager of Evite.com.

“Seating assignments can be so emotionally charged, it’s hard to make everyone happy,” McCollough says.

You usually have a week or less to develop a seating plan once you have the final guest count. You can arrange people at a specific spot or by the table.

Even when you have the best of intentions, you’re not guaranteed success.

Say you assign your aged aunt to a table near the exit to make it easier for her to come and go. She may resent being so far from the action. Or maybe you don’t realize your childhood best friends are no longer speaking to each other, and putting them at a table together will make everyone else miserable.

Unfortunately there are few rules of who should be sitting where, and you can’t always know who will be compatible.

Your best bet is to use common sense and assume your guests will accept your wisdom, McCollough, former editor-in-chief at Weddingchannel.com, says.

To start, seat people together who share common interests. Insert one of your lively and outgoing friends to stimulate conversation at a table where people don’t know each other. If you know some people aren’t on speaking terms--say former spouses – put a few tables between them, McCollough advises.

You’ve probably seen guests at other weddings do an advance check of where they’ll be sitting. It’s tacky to switch, but some guests try. To prevent this, appoint an usher to point people to their tables.

Children are probably going to be happier sitting with others their age. Hire a babysitter to oversee the children, so their parents can enjoy themselves.

And if you can’t imagine your disparate guests enjoying two hours together, host a buffet instead of a sit-down meal. Scatter tables throughout the dining area and let guests seat themselves.

Seating tips

Many singles don’t want to be fixed up at a wedding and find being consigned to a singles’ table very awkward. Instead mix singles with couples.

Although table switching isn’t appropriate, tablehopping is fine, except when a food course is being served.

Some nuptial couples sit at a bridal table with the immediate families of the bride and groom. Others may have a sweethearts’ table where only the bride and groom sit.

The wedding couple should have the final word and choose the seating that makes them comfortable, McCollough says.

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