Your wedding is about a month away. You’ve settled on a reception hall, menu and table decorations. Now it’s time to sit down and decide where your guests will be seated on the big day. If you are having a small wedding or a buffet, specific seats may not be necessary. But if you are having a larger wedding and a seated meal, your guests will be happy knowing they won’t have to fight for a seat. And assigned seating lets them enjoy the wedding as much as you are enjoying your first hours as newlyweds.

Overwhelmed about where to start? Make a seating chart. Get a big sheet of paper and draw big circles to represent the tables, dance floor, musical entertainment and entrances. Then list everyone’s name on an index card or sticky note so you can play “musical chairs.”

In general, place people in spots that suit them. Your friends will want to be near the music, but Grandma and Grandpa will be unhappy with the stereo sound blasting in their ears. Family and friends should be closest to you. Acquaintances and your parents’ friends should be placed farther away.

A traditional head table is long and straight and faces the other reception tables. There are a few different seating options here. The bride and groom traditionally sit front and center, with the maid of honor on the groom’s left and the best man on the bride’s right. The other attendants are seated boy-girl. But you can stray from tradition. You can have the wedding party and their dates sit at one table, while you and your new spouse have your own small table at the front of the room. You can also sit at a table with only the maid of honor, best man and their dates. Or you can sit at a table with your parents. Do whatever fits your style and makes you most comfortable.

Parent seating is flexible, too. Both the bride’s and groom’s parents generally sit together near the newlyweds. Siblings not in the wedding, grandparents and other relatives may also sit there. But if your parents are divorced or some relatives don’t get along, feel free to separate them. Your mother and her guests can sit at one table and your father can have his own table on the other side of the room. If you’re unsure how to seat them, consult both your parents and in-laws to see what would make them most comfortable.

For family seating, it seems obvious to sit people on the same side of the family together to guarantee that they’ll be comfortable. But you might consider sitting the bride’s cousins with the groom’s cousins so they can get to know each other. Regardless, there are always relatives who don’t get along. To avoid embarrassing tiffs, put family members with a history of squabbles on opposite sides of the dance floor – you’ll be happier for it.

Seating friends allows you more creativity. You can sit people who know each other together or you can play matchmaker by seating people at the same table who have never met. Some opt for “singles” and “couples” tables, while others feel this seating makes people feel uncomfortable. Again, don’t forget about people who don’t get along. If your two college buddies aren’t on speaking terms, now isn’t the time to try to patch things up by seating them at the same table.

Sometimes, there are just some people who don’t fit anywhere – your friend from camp, your fourth cousin from Alaska. Whatever the case may be, avoid seating all the random guests at one table: They’ll know they’re the outcasts. Maybe your friend from camp went to college with your best friend. Or that cousin from Alaska would get along with Uncle Bill, who loves to travel. Seating random guests with people they have something in common with can make them feel more at ease during the reception.

You can’t please everyone with the seating assignments, but you can try your best to make everyone enjoy hearing the words, “Please be seated.”

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