Let's face it: Seating charts are tough. It's a logistical puzzle made all the more complicated when you add emotions and family politics into the mix. And of course, you have to remember that most of your guests will come in pairs. For most guests, it's pretty simple: you seat each couple together at the same table. But what about your siblings and members of your wedding party? We asked the experts for a few insider tips.
"This question comes up at every wedding, and there truly is no correct or incorrect answer," says Lindsey Nickel, founder of Lovely Day Events. The answer depends on a few different factors, including the size of the wedding, the size of the wedding party, how well you know your bridesmaid or groomsman's date, and how many people fit at the table.
Meet the Expert
Lindsey Nickel is a professional wedding planner and the founder and owner of award-winning Lovely Day Events, a boutique wedding planning company serving Jackson Hole, Wyo., Napa and Sonoma, Calif., and destination locations.
"It's definitely a sensitive situation, but we tend to refer back to three specific scenarios that are very black-and-white—and will treat all dates equally," says Nickel. Here are her ideas:
Option 1: Head Table with the Wedding Party, Without Their Dates
"In this instance, you would seat the wedding party with the newlyweds, and their dates at another table with people they know, such as family or friends," Nickel explains. She emphasizes the importance of seating the dates at a table with people they know so they're not all alone. "This option works best when the entire wedding party, plus dates, just won't fit at the head table. 'No dates' tends to happen by default, out of necessity."
Option 2: Head Table with the Wedding Party and Their Dates
"The more the merrier!" says Nickel. If you're having a longer head table with space for everyone, this is the way to go. "If you're worried about a significant other you don't care for, simply seat them further away from you and surround yourself with your closest friends."
Option 3: Sweetheart Table
"Problem solved. In this case, the two of you can dine together and assign your wedding party to different tables with their dates," Nickel says. "This works particularly well at smaller weddings, where the wedding party and their dates make up a significant portion of the total guests." It would be strange to have a head table for 20 people with only 60 guests in attendance, so this breaks it up and better fills the room. "If you're worried about socializing, consider having two extra seats or a small bench at the table so guests can come up and say 'hi' while you're eating. This way you won't miss dinner by walking around, but you'll still get to have a few moments with your guests." Another great idea? Swapping out the standard-height table for a hi-boy sweetheart table. "This elevates you above your guests so they can walk up and chat without awkwardly leaning over your table or taking a seat. And as a bonus, you'll be able to see everyone from your perch."