Bride's Guide: Q&A for the Big Day

Deciding who sits where, and with whom, at your wedding reception.

April 20, 2010— -- Last night my fiance and I sat down to start figuring out the seating chart for our wedding reception.

We've heard from most of the initial nonresponders to the invitations, and wedding planner Mindy Weiss says it's a good idea to get the table arrangements out of the way ahead of time.

There are different philosophies about seating at a wedding reception, and Weiss says it's the one thing that's "very personal." Even if you have a planner helping you with the other last-minute details, you have to make the table assignments yourself.

At past weddings, I've been seated at the family table, the singles table, the head table and more. And I've always had the most fun at weddings when I was seated with people I knew well.

My fiance and I shared that philosophy when it came to our own seating chart, but we had different ideas about how to execute it. My approach was to simply make lists (as discussed in a previous entry, I love lists). My fiance preferred to lay everything out on a floor plan. "I need to see it," he says.

Seating Chart Strategy

According to Mindy Weiss, there's no right or wrong way, but she believes "the good old-fashioned way for seating" is to lay everything out visually.

"It is good to write the guests' names on individual index cards and then start grouping the groups of people together," she says.

In her "Wedding Book," Weiss also suggests writing down names on Post-it notes and using paper plates to represent the tables.

The more modern approach, she says, is to "use an Excel spreadsheet to group tables."

When talking to your reception venue about table sizes, Weiss provided the following guidelines (if you're using round tables):

a 60-inch table is for eight people

a 66-inch table is for 10 people

a 72-inch table is for 12 people

Seating Chart Advice: 'No One Likes to be Separated'

Here are the options for the head table (again, Weiss says there's no right way to do it):

Option 1: bride and groom and the wedding party with their spouses or dates.

Option 2: bride and groom and any combination of maid or matron of honor, best man, parents and siblings

Option 3: a sweetheart table for the bride and groom

Weiss' most important piece of advice?

"I always say don't split the guests from their spouses or dates at the head table," she says. "No one likes to be separated."

Viewer Question of the Day:

Can you ever invite someone to an engagement party and not invite them to the wedding? What about the shower/bachelorette/bachelor party?

Weiss says inviting someone to a party or shower and not inviting them to the wedding is generally poor etiquette.

"You shouldn't invite guests to prior wedding events and not to the wedding unless your wedding is under 35 guests," she says. In that case, "then you can tell family and friends that you are having a very small wedding but still wanted them to participate in some of the celebrations."

Do you have a wedding etiquette question for Mindy? CLICK HERE to submit one!

Continue Reading:

CLICK HERE for Day 24, little things that make a big difference on your big day.

The 30-Day Wedding Countdown:

Continue Reading:

CLICK HERE for Day 24, little things that make a big difference on your big day.

More: Day 30: What's the proper invitation response etiquette? CLICK HERE to find out.

Day 29: What are Mindy's top 10 tips for the final month before your wedding? CLICK HERE for more.

Day 26: Great gift ideas for bridesmaids, groomsmen and other attendants, and how much you should spend. CLICK HERE to read.

CLICK HERE to visit Mindy's Web site.