Decide where and how to seat your guests
Not knowing where to sit makes people feel uncomfortable. The main goal of a wedding seating arrangement is to motivate friendly conversation and to honour special guests. Among other reasons, if different plates are going to be served, the caterer needs to know what he will be serving, where and to whom. If you don’t want a boring and unpleasant reception, it is best to think about a seating plan for your guests!
Divide to unite
Create a list with three columns, one with the guest's name, another one with the degree of relationship (friend of the groom, bride's aunt, etc.) and a third one with a characteristic and/or specific interest relating to that person. Now, all you have to do is separate the guests into different tables, according to the degree of their relationship, and balance it out with interests or characteristics that the guests at each table may have in common.
The groom and the bride will be the centre of attention and the guests seated beside them will be considered special guests. In this case, you have the following options: place a small table exclusively for the newlyweds (romantic option) or a table for the newlyweds, their relatives and special guests. Independently of what you choose, the groom and the bride should always be seated next to each other.
Round or rectangular?
At a round table – where men and women should alternate – the newlyweds should be seated next to each other; beside the groom should be the godmother, the grandfather, the groom's mother, the bride's father, the bride's mother, the groom's father, the grandmother, the godfather and the bride. At a traditional rectangular table (which should be facing all of the other guests) and considering 8 places, you should sit, left to right: the bride's father, the bride's mother, the godfather, the newlyweds, the godmother, the groom's mother, the groom's father. At this type of table, the newlyweds should always be seated in the centre, so that the remaining guests may easily see them.
Boys and girls
Considering it’s a second marriage, the groom’s or the bride’s children may sit at the newlyweds’ table or close to it, along with other relatives. The flower girls or the ring boys should either sit at the children's tables or with their parents. In the teenagers’ case, they prefer to be seated all together.
If the parents are paying for the wedding, then they are considered the hosts; which means they should decide who sits where. In this case, whoever sits at the parents' table is considered a guest of honour. It is also possible to have one single table of honour for both the groom’s and the bride’s parents. The parents' table should be slightly larger than the other guests and it should be the closest to the newlyweds’ table.
Splitting up families
For example, if the groom’s parents are divorced and do not have a good relationship, it is best to seat them separately. However, both tables should be equally important; the groom’s father can sit with the bride's parents and the mother can sit at the godparents' table.
Guests should be seated according to experiences and common interests. At a more casual reception, couples may be seated separately, although nothing compares to the romantic nostalgia of couples seated side by side.
Bachelors & Bachelorettes
As tempting as it may be, don’t seat single guests all at the same table because it may create an awkward situation; in this case, opt to mix couples with bachelors and bachelorettes, it will be much more pleasant.
Prepare small escort cards, on which should be written each guest's name; place them in alphabetical order on a table at the entrance of the reception; behind each card place the number or name of the table corresponding to each guest. You may also decide to put up an informative board with the disposition of the tables and the guests. Or, during the cocktail, you can have somebody distribute these cards to the guests, and escort them to their tables later.
When giving each table a number or a name, an identification card should be placed at each table, with that name or number. If you choose to baptize the tables with numbers, the newlyweds’ table should always be number 1 or, if preferred, do not name or number it at all.
Close to the newlyweds
Be wise when distributing seating places. Relatives and close friends should not "be piled up" around the newlyweds’ table. What can happen is that because these guests are so closely related, they may “monopolize” the newlyweds during the entire party, impeding the newlyweds from socializing with those who are not so close to them.
Give particular attention to seniors, seeing as they have greater difficulty in seeing and hearing; try to seat them far away from the band; they should be seated at higher places, so that they may see and hear everything perfectly and therefore appreciate the best of the party.
Don't forget that unlike the ceremony – where each family sits on different sides – the wedding reception is for both families and friends to socialize and to get to know each other better; it would be an appropriate gesture to help reflect this philosophy in the disposition of the tables and the guests.