Arguably one of the trickiest jobs of organising a wedding, drafting a top table seating plan can be the source of much tension and anxiety. Many couples have fought or fallen out while drawing up the top table seating arrangements and many a guest has been offended by such arrangements. So What are the right seating arrangements for a top table at a wedding?
Like everything wedding related, you can opt to do it the traditional way. But there’s so much choice now and etiquette far more relaxed that it really is the wishes of the couple tying the knot that are important. Not formality.
Whatever style of event you go for, it is essential to have a seating plan. Wedding guests usually like to sit on a table with at least one known person to avoid any awkwardness. This isn’t always possible but if effort has been made to sit mutual friends together it is appreciated.
Always keep partners together, regardless of the style of your wedding.
The size and location of your top table will be dictated by the space available at your chosen venue. Whether you choose to sit all your bridesmaids at the top table or just your maid of honour will depend on space availability.
Most couples opt for a long rectangular top table in front of their guests and small, round tables for guests. However, recently some prospective newlyweds have chosen to have their bridal party seated at a round table like their guests.
Traditionally, the bride and groom will be seated in the middle of the top table flanked by the bride’s father, groom’s mother and best man on the bride’s side and the bride’s mother, groom’s father and chief bridesmaid on the groom’s side.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of deciding who sits where on the top table is when one or both sets of parents are separated or they don’t get on. In situations where the bride and groom’s parents dislike one another, it is perfectly acceptable to keep them seated next to their partners and separated by the bride and groom.
In this seating plan the chief bridesmaid and the best man will be seated at opposite ends of the top table.
Where either the groom’s or bride’s parents are divorced or separated, or both, the couples will be seated at opposite ends of the top table from their former partners, separated by the bride and groom. So in the case of both sets of parents being divorced, you could have a top table seating arrangement as follows:
From right to left: Groom’s stepmother, bride’s stepfather, chief bridesmaid, groom’s father, bride’s mother, groom, bride, bride’s father, groom’s mother, best man, bride’s stepmother, groom’s stepfather.
Whatever you decide for your wedding top table, it can be helpful to discuss seating arrangements with your family members prior to the big day. Where there is bad feeling between former couples, this can make weddings an anxious affair and it may help relax them if they know where they will be sitting in advance.