Often one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning, sorting your seating plan is no simple task. From the number of guests to divorced parents and personal differences, there’s a lot to juggle. The traditional top table layout only exacerbates these challenges, so how best can you tackle it?

We say it’s time to abandon the one-size-fits-all conventions of the past and choose people to sit at your top table that will make everyone happiest.

Tearing your hair out trying to organise your top table seating plan, when you've got a large bridal party and extended family to accommodate? Help is here


Keeping it in the family

Traditional top table arrangements seat the groom’s mother beside the bride’s father and vice versa on either side of the couple. The maid of honour and best man typically occupy either end seat. But if you know your parents don’t get along so well or simply don’t have much in common, don’t sit them together for the sake of tradition. On the best day of your lives, happiness has to be the most important thing, so allocate spaces accordingly.

If either one of you or both have divorced parents, then consider how they currently feel towards each other. If things are amicable, don’t worry about seating them near to one another, but also be sympathetic that space might be best.

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Should only one side of your families have second partners, the tradition of seating opposite sides in pairs won’t be so easily executed, so go with what is best for your own scenario. Don’t be afraid to seat couples together, either. If your parents will enjoy the day more with their own partner to talk to, then let them.

If you’ve already got children together or perhaps have children from previous relationships, you may want to include them in your top table too. Positioning them beside helpful grandparents is also a great idea so you can all enjoy the day.

Read More: Top Table Planning For Unconventional Families

Bridal party only

Why not turn tradition on its head and only seat the bridal party – the maid of honour, best man, bridesmaids and groomsmen – with you on the top table? You can still help your parents feel special by making them hosts of the other tables or by sitting them at the next nearest.

If only the best man and maid of honour join your top table, be mindful that they may end up left out when seated at either end. Perhaps their partners could join them too? It’s best to include all those giving speeches on your top table so that they run smoothly and your guests know where to look.

On show

How about changing the layout of the traditional top table, not only for the seating plan but for the tables themselves too. You could ditch the top table entirely and opt for round or trestle tables instead. These will be more sociable as guests can talk to those opposite as well as those beside them. You could also try a U-shaped layout, which brings all guests together and makes your top table element more discreet. This can be a great option for more intimate weddings, where a long top table could feel a little overpowering.

Once you’ve established a first draft, websites like toptableplanner.com can help as you inevitably need to make a few further adjustments.

Just the two of us

If all else fails, or if you simply don’t have eyes for anyone else, then why not opt for a sweetheart table instead? This top table twist sees you and your new spouse sit together at a table for two. With this arrangement, you’ll have time to enjoy your wedding breakfast together before easily moving on to mingle with your guests.

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