After the conundrum of putting together the guest list for your wedding comes the eventual seating debacle, specifically the top table seating plan. For some it’s straightforward and easy to follow tradition with regards to who sits where, but for many it’s a major headache.

Traditional Top Table Seating Plan

In the UK, the wedding top table seating plan is traditionally as follows…

(Facing the table, from left to right)

Chief Bridesmaid, Groom’s Father, Bride’s Mother, Groom, Bride, Bride’s Father, Groom’s Mother, Best Man

Top Table Seating Alternatives

However, here are some alternatives to the traditional top table seating layout…

Parents Hosting Their Own Table

It can be difficult to agree who will sit where, particularly in the case of divorced/separated and/or remarried parents. It can therefore be a good idea to give individual parents their own table to host with their key family members or friends. This is particularly effective when a parent has remarried and there is a stepfamily, as it is easier to seat them at one completely separate table.

Wedding Top Table Standing for Toast

Depending on circumstances, it can be a good idea to stick to this idea and give all parents their own table to host, thereby not having any parents on the top table. You could have your siblings and their partners on the top table, or your bridesmaids and groomsmen and their partners instead. The traditional top table seating plan layout actually isn’t great for the best man and chief bridesmaid as they are separated from their partner, so going for something like this can keep quite a few people content.

If the layout of your venue allows, I would recommend positioning any parents’ tables very close to yours. Also ensure when place cards are laid out the most important people (i.e. mum and dad) have a great view and are facing you.

One Large Table

If you have a large family when you factor in stepfamilies, and everyone gets along reasonably well, you could consider one large oval table. It does depend on the layout of your wedding breakfast location, but large oval tables for 20 or so do look stunning within certain settings and can allow you to include everyone.

Sweetheart Table

You could of course run in completely the opposite direction and opt for a sweetheart table. This is a table where just the two of you sit, with other tables positioned close to you and parents hosting their own tables as mentioned above. It might sound a bit unsociable, but the reality is you’ll be up and down between courses circulating the tables anyway, and it can be a way of avoiding a lot of potential conflict.

Sweetheart Wedding Table

Round Tables Versus Long Tables

It’s almost always easier to go for all round tables if possible. If there are any gripes and issues with family members with regards to who is or isn’t on the top table, this can lessen a little if at least all the tables are the same size and the same configuration, rather than one very obvious ‘long’ top table, which clearly has VIP written all over it!

Happy Planning!

Guest post by Kelly Chandler

Images from…

Top Table Toast: Hannah Duffy Photography

Sweetheart Table: Jack and Jane Photography