August 7, 2014

Seating plan etiquette: the dos and don’ts

Knowing where to place the guests at the table can be a real headache for many of us. If you find it difficult to arrange your guests, here are a few tips to help you plan. 


  • Where should the hosts sit?

The hosts should face each other. There are two “traditions” for this:

The English tradition: the hosts are each placed opposite of one another, in the centre of the table.

The French tradition: hosts are also positioned opposite one another at the ends of the table.

  • Who should be placed besides whom?

Etiquette tells us first that two people of the same sex should not find themselves sitting next to each other. Thus, a man should be placed between two women, and a women between two men.

Couples must also be separated unless the people in question are betrothed or married for less than a year.

The “places of honour” are to the right of the hostess and the host. These seats are filled with either the most important people at your meal, by older people or even by those who are visiting your home for the first time. We should also specify that a clergyman should always be placed to the right of the hostess.

If the guest of honour is a woman, she should be placed to the right of the host, but if it is a man, then he should logically be placed to the right of the hostess.
After the right seat, the seat that is to the left of the householder is the the second “place of honour” in terms of importance. Thus, traditionally the seat at the left of the hostess is occupied by the younger man.
Here is also a point to consider: the lady placed to the right of the householder should not be the wife of the gentleman placed to the right of the hostess.

If the meal is held in honour of someone (celebrating a birthday, or achievement), then that person will preside at the table instead of householders.

A hostess without a partner should not be facing a man, but a close female friend.

If it is a host without a partner, the etiquette simply states that he should not be facing a married woman whose husband is not present at the meal.

There are of course a whole bunch of other rules but the above ones are among the most important.

Now it is up to you to play your cards well and place your guests with a proper table plan! 

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