How to Set Up Tables at a Reception


Deciding how to arrange tables at a reception will help to ensure that all family members sit with other guests with whom they can interact and mingle. While the idea of arranging the tables at your reception in rows is appealing, this decision could limit how much your guests interact. Use a few basic tips for setting up the tables at your reception. Once the tables are set up and in place, guests can mingle and enjoy celebrating the union of the newly married couple.

Things You'll Need

  • Seating chart
  • Tables
  • Bridal table
  • Set the bridal table at the center of the reception or at the center point of the room. The size and shape of the room will determine the location that provides the greatest visibility to all guests. Use L-shaped sectional tables for the bridal party, and set up tables on both sides of them. Set up smaller groups of round tables around the bridal party if you want to break up the wedding guests into smaller groups.

  • Set up the bridal table so that it faces out to the reception. Guests need to see the bridal party, which is especially important as bridesmaids and groomsmen toast the newlywed couple. You don't want the guests seeing the backs of the bridal party.

  • Set up the remaining tables so that there is room for guests to walk around the room. It is common for guests to approach the newlywed couple while they sit at the bridal party table. Allow enough room around the tables so that guests can move between tables easily.

  • Arrange guests by gender around the table. As a general rule of thumb, seat men and women next to each other, and avoid assigning two guests of the same gender to neighboring seats. You can break this rule, of course.

  • Seat the bride’s chief bridesmaid and the groom’s best man to the right-hand side of the bride. Seat a bridesmaid and a groomsman to the left of the groom. Continue to seat bridesmaids and groomsman in pairs; one to the right of the bride and one to the left of the groom—repeat until the entire bridal party has a seat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be mindful of guests and family members who do not get along when assigning seats at each table.
  • Use elegant decorations to help the bridal table stand out.
  • Don't overcrowd the tables at your reception with too many table decorations.

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  • Photo Credit wedding reception image by Mat Hayward from
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