Who sits at the head table at a wedding?

Updated March 23, 2017

When planning your wedding, the seating arrangements will need to be prepared to ensure a smooth transition from ceremony to reception. While can choose to have open seating at your reception, the people who will be sitting at the head table should know where they are sitting in advance. The head table generally includes the bride, groom and wedding party. The head table can also seat the couple's parents or close relatives. Traditionally, seating is arranged by alternating males and females, though you can arrange to have women sit on the bride's side and men by the groom.

Bride and Groom

The centre of attention of the head table is the bride and groom. They should sit in the middle of the table and be flanked by an even number of guests. Traditionally, the bride sits to the right of her husband. The head table should be raised or at the front of the reception area to offer the guests a clear view of the newlyweds.

Wedding Party

Traditionally, the maid of honour sits next to the groom and the best man sits next to the bride. A groomsman will sit next to the maid of honour and a bridesmaid will sit next to the best man. The seating of the wedding party is alternated by gender until the entire party is seated. While this is the traditional seating arrangement, it is not set in stone. You can opt to have the maid of honour sit next to the bride, followed by the remaining bridal party. The groom's best man and groomsmen can sit on the groom's side.

You may also choose to seat the significant others of your wedding attendants at your head table so they may dine together during the reception. This works best if you have a small wedding party. For larger wedding parties, you may decide to have honoured tables for your wedding attendants and their dates.


You can opt to seat the parents of the bride and groom at the head table. Parents should sit to the side of their child. If the parents are divorced, either both parents or the parent that primarily raised the child should be seated at the head table.

If the bride or groom is particularly close to a brother or sister but was unable to place the sibling in the wedding party, the sibling can be seated at the head table as a sign of importance. Siblings should be seated on the side of their brother or sister who is getting married.

Grandparents and other close relatives can also be seated at the head table if the bride or groom has a particularly strong bond with the relative. If the grandmother of the bride raised her, for example, the bride can seat her grandmother by her side at the head table. Honoured tables near the head table are another option for family members.


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About the Author

Marissa Willman is a Palm Springs-based travel journalist and content writer. She has been writing professionally since 2007 for such publications as, and Palm Springs Life. Willman is also the local guide for the Palm Springs section of travel website Willman holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from California State University, Fullerton.