Wedding reception etiquette for place cards

Written by denise brandenberg
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Wedding reception etiquette for place cards
Follow simple etiquette rules when deciding seating at the wedding reception. (place setting - white image by JJAVA from

Planning a wedding can be a complex task that requires a balance of efficiency and grace. While many brides enjoy making the decisions around colours, flowers and food, they dread making some of the wedding reception plans, such as deciding who will sit at each table. One way to make the process easier is by assigning seats and designating place cards at the table. Brides or wedding planners who choose this route must follow several etiquette rules.

Place Card Names

Each wedding reception guest should have his own place card with his name on it. This means that married couples should each have their own cards. According to an article on The Knot, it is inappropriate to have place cards with "guest" on them. One way to avoid this faux pas is by leaving room on the reply cards for single guests to write down their dates' names. If the single guest is unsure about who he is bringing at the time of the RSVP, follow up with him via e-mail or phone call to find out the name of the date, or specifically request that he contacts you by a set date.

Bridal Table

While the bridal table may be a regular round table or a long rectangular table on a platform in the front of the room, there are certain etiquette rules that couples should follow as well. According to the Wedding Channel, the classic seating order is the bride at the left of the groom. The best man then sits to the bride's left, and the maid of honour sits to the right of the groom. If the table is large enough, the other bridesmaids and groomsmen may sit at the table in the traditional manner of the opposite sex seated next to one another.

Family Tables

Assigned family tables may be a complicated situation. The traditional etiquette rule is to have a designated table with the parents of the bride and the groom seated across from each other. This large table also seats the grandparents and the wedding officiant. In modern society, when many parents of the bride and groom are divorced, each set of parents can host their own table. This seating arrangement can help prevent drama or awkwardness.

Couples and Singles

Seating couples and singles is another art form. Proper etiquette suggests that the point of seating arrangements is to allow wedding guests to feel comfortable and have a good time at the reception. This may signify that some guests will prefer to sit next to people they know, rather than strangers. Brides should try to place people with common interests together, even if they do not know each other. Couples can be mixed with other couples and singles. Brides should also avoid clumping all the singles together, but at the same time, not place one single person at a table full of newlyweds.


If the ring bearer and flower girl are the only children in the wedding's attendance, seat them at their parents' tables. However, if there are many children at the wedding, designate a specific children's table, usually in the corner of the room so that they do not distract the other attendees.

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