Seat Smarts: The Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Seating Charts

When it comes to church weddings, there are seating rules aplenty, but few are unbreakable. In matters of seating, most couples and marriage officiants prefer to respect the wishes of each family rather than insist on strict compliance. The exception to this would be when a religion follows practices requiring separation of the sexes.

While many traditions have fallen by the wayside, there are a few basics of church wedding seating that have emerged as essential. Others are outdated and should be avoided.

Seating by Family: Don’t

There is an old rule that all the bride’s family and friends should be seated on one side of the church and the groom’s family and friends on the other. However, this can create unbalanced seating plans and could put estranged family members uncomfortably close to each other. It can also create drama and confusion at same-sex weddings.

Choose a seat, not a side.

Luckily, the strict family division seating arrangement is going out of style, with many advocating “choose a seat, not a side.” This makes it possible for each bridal party to customize seating preferences according to their unique situations.

Good Views for Everyone: Do

Whether a wedding is inside or outside the church, it’s important to make sure that everyone has an unobstructed view. Chairs should face the front of the church, or wherever the couple will be standing. Make sure that guest seating is placed carefully to avoid any potential obstructions like pillars or decorations, and that there is adequate lighting for all guests to see properly.

Reserved Seating for the Wedding Party: Do

Another tradition that’s almost universally observed is to have reserved seating in front for close family or other honored guests. Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-relatives, and other close family members sit in the front two rows of the church. Individual family dynamics should take precedence over tradition (for instance, divorced parents can sit in different rows, if that is more comfortable for them).

Many people decorate the front two rows with flowers or ribbons to mark them as reserved, which is important since some of the wedding party guests will walk in with the bride or groom and will need a reserved seat. Other wedding guests sit behind the reserved rows.

Seating All Single Guests Together: Don’t

If you are creating a seating chart for the wedding or reception, some of the guests will be couples and some will be single. It might feel easier to put all the couples at tables together and put all the singles together. However, this is a bad idea and a breach of good etiquette. It can draw undue attention to your single guests’ relationship status. Mix singles and couples together in your seating chart for a more inclusive gathering.

Head Table: Do

At wedding dinners, seating rules generally follow the same arrangements for the ceremony. The wedding party, immediate family members, and honored guests are seated closest to the couple, often at a head table. Round tables usually seat no more than eight guests, so sometimes a long rectangular table (made up of several tables placed end to end) is used. However, since the long table format doesn’t allow for much conversation between guests, traditional round tables are also popular, with the understanding that not everyone will be able to sit at the newlyweds’ table.

Use a Seating Plan App

Coming up with a seating plan for wedding guests can be challenging. As a church hosting the wedding, you may be asked by the families of the couple about the best way to create a wedding seating chart. Here are five online resources you can recommend or use yourself to create a seating plan for church weddings and wedding dinners.

1. All Seated

With AllSeated, you can collaborate with others to create a thorough floor plan. The website allows for 3D viewing with a variety of templates to choose from. There is access to 24/7 customer service in case you need help. 

2. TopTablePlanner

TopTablePlanner allows you to move tables, add guests, and arrange decorations in order to plan your event. You can even import files from Word and Excel. You can test out the site with a 7-day free trial–money back guaranteed.

3. Martha Stewart Weddings 

If you’re looking for great tips about traditional church seating arrangements for a wedding, Martha Stewart Weddings is the website for you. The site has many articles about the perfect seating arrangements and other helpful articles about traditional church weddings. This site even provides proper procession procedures and standing formations.

Do you need new chairs for upcoming weddings? Check out our comfortable Bertolini church seating options or our indoor/outdoor folding chair styles from MityLite.

Ready to Get Pricing?

Your dedicated sales representative is just a phone call away!

Contact Us