• Seating Chart or No Seating Chart?

    Seating Chart or No Seating Chart?

    How to arrange your guests on your special day.


The wedding planning phase is undoubtedly packed with difficult decisions, many of which you’ll probably be debating right up until the moment you say, “I do.” The issue of a seating chart—and, inevitably, the guest list—is certainly among these hot topics. Should you lay out exactly where you want everyone to sit, or is it better to kick back and let guests decide for themselves? Below are some pros and cons to consider when deciding which type of seating plan is the best fit for your big day.

Strict, seat-by-seat chart


  • For couples who feel most comfortable managing the destiny of as many big-day details as possible, the traditional seating chart is likely to be the most appealing option.
  • This allows you to keep space between relatives with bad history, connect friends who’ve never met but you imagine would get along swimmingly or even play matchmaker for your single friends.
  • Nobody will be left searching for a seat or feeling left out when they arrive—they’ll have a chair and a place card—and that’s a comfortable feeling, especially if your guests don’t know many other attendees.


  • First and foremost, this is easily the most labor- and time-intensive option during a period in which you value every penny and second.
  • Even with hours of meticulous maneuvering, you will find that planning the perfect arrangement just isn’t possible—and even if you think you’ve achieved perfection, a last-minute RSVP could upset the applecart.
  • If you are already feeling overwhelmed by the planning and preparation for your ceremony and reception, deciding precisely how far apart Aunt Karen and Uncle Ray are sitting might be the tipping point.

Assigned tablesbut not seats


  • One of the most popular seating plans is to assign guests to a table—but not a specific seat. Instead of place cards in front of each plate, escort cards direct guests to their table, where they are free to take any seat they’d like.
  • This allows you to keep groups together (think college friends, coworkers and extended family) without the extra stress of picking exactly how the table will be arranged.
  • Guests will enjoy the comfort of familiar faces as well as the freedom to shuffle their spot around the table as they please.


  • You may be left with no choice but to seat some guests with others they have not met or with whom they have little common ground, which can lead to some awkward attempts at small talk.
  • Guests who are placed at tables farther from the newlyweds may feel left out of the action.

An open seating plan


  • This option easily requires the least effort and stress for couples during the planning phase.
  • With the reduced stress comes reduced cost for materials—and who doesn’t like a little extra money in their pocket?
  • Guests can sit with whomever they are most comfortable.
  • Not being “tied down” to a certain spot encourages guests to move, mix and mingle, which adds to the festive vibe you certainly seek at your reception.


  • Forgoing a seating chart may leave the later-arriving guests scrambling for spots, often at tables partially full of people they have never met.
  • Since the family of the couple are frequently some of the last ones into the reception, that could mean they are left sitting at tables far from the dance floor, the newlyweds and the heart of the action.
  • An open seating arrangement also allows for the likely scenario that tables will be left with one or two empty chairs that end up going unused.
  • You’ll have to plan for extra tables to accommodate groups that can’t fit in the leftover spots but don’t want to split up. This can be costly and inconvenient—two things you’d rather avoid dealing with on wedding day.

There are certainly positive and negative aspects of each type of seating possibility for your special day. However, it is just that—YOUR special day—and no matter which direction you choose to go, your guests will undoubtedly be thrilled to share in the festivities and be happy with any seat in the house.

SEE ALSO: 6 Tips to Master Your Wedding Guest List

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