Dear OSB: Seating Chart Issues

Dear OSB: I’m totally confused about the wedding seating chart. How should I seat my guests?


There’s the traditional way to seat your wedding guests and then there’s the “make it up as you go along” way to seat your wedding guests. Both can by a little nausea inducing, but here’s an overview.

Traditional Seating Plan – The Bride and Groom should be seen from all corners of the reception room and their closest family members should be seated nearest to them.

The traditional head table should be long, straight, set up along a wall, and facing all the other reception tables. The bride sits to the right of the groom with the best man seated on her right side. The maid of honor is seated to the left of the groom. All additional male members of the wedding party are seated beside the best man and all additional females are seated beside the maid of honor.

However, modern etiquette for the head table is a little different, with the bride and groom sitting in the center of the table with the bride on the right. The best man is seated next to the groom with the additional groomsmen in line beside him. The maid of honor is seated to the right of the bride with the additional bridesmaids to her right.

Arrangement of Parents – Traditionally, the bride and groom’s parents sit at the same reception table, sometimes with grandparents. However, we suggest seating your parents according to circumstance. For instance, if either of your parents is divorced, you’ll probably want to have each parent (plus their spouse) seated at their own table.

Arrangement of Relatives, Friends, and Colleagues – Family members should be seated together and seated closest to the head table. Friends and colleagues should be seated together and placed furthest from the head table.

Children – The flower girl and ring bearer generally don’t sit at the head table. Instead, they sit with their parents. If their parents are part of the bridal party, children can sit at the head table or nearby.

Make Your Own Rules – For a more informal affair you could choose to have “unassigned seating”, whereby your guests select where to plant their own derriere. Alternatively, you could have assigned tables with no assigned seats which means you’ll have control over what groups sit together but also give your guests freedom to move around the table.

Whatever you decide, make sure to get your seating chart done early and have it completed at least one week before your wedding day (with small last-minute changes from then on). We can’t stress this enough, the final days leading up to your wedding day certainly shouldn’t be consumed by your seating chart. They should be consumed with fun!

Do you have a question for our wedding expert? Send your etiquette or wedding planning question to and we’ll post an answer for you!

{Image: Photography by Robbins Photographic via Rock My Wedding}

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“I’m Marcela, an Aussie expat living in Hong Kong. This space is where I share my love for weddings and bits and pieces from my family’s life and adventures. I love celebrating weddings, motherhood, family, travel and life’s simple joys.”