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Saturday, March 25, 2023

A beginner’s guide to event seating arrangements

Whether you are hosting a corporate event, a charity gala or an engagement party, the seating is crucial. Get it right and your guests will feel relaxed; get it wrong and they will feel awkward and you might even lose business. Let’s take a look at the different styles of event seating.

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Banquet style

Comprising round tables seating eight or ten people, this classic style encourages guest interaction. VIPs should be seated in the centre of the room.

Best for: award nights, wedding receptions, networking dinners and informal events.

Family-style seating

This style – involving one long table, or tables in rows – looks stunning in large venues. It is good for photos and feels intimate.

Best for: banquets, wedding receptions and informal events.

Cabaret-style seating

This involves guests sitting at one side of round tables to see the presenter. Group work and presentations work well.

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Best for: comedy nights, award nights, workshops and gala dinners.

Theatre-style seating

In this style, rows of chairs face a podium or projector. Food consumption and note-taking are not possible.

Best for: performances, lectures and product launches.


Rectangular tables are arranged in classroom style, suiting computer use and note-taking. Participants don’t face each other, hindering interaction.

Best for: lectures, training sessions and seminars.

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Conference-style seating

This style – a single table seating up to 25 attendees – is ideal for brainstorming.

Best for: seminars and meetings.

U-shaped seating

Rectangular tables for up to 30 guests form a U-shape. A focal point or speaker at the open ‘U’ end stimulates interaction.

Best for: conferences, workshops and training sessions.

Hollow square-style seating

In this style, rectangular tables form a square for up to 30 attendees. The speakers are placed at the side or centre of the square.

Best for: training sessions and workshops.

Cocktail style

This means standing room only. Guests can mingle and eat canapes.

Best for: cocktail parties, business mixers and social events.

Assigned seating

Seating charts are a good idea for 50-plus people. They minimise confusion and conflicts and are generally preferred by guests who don’t want to go seat hunting. With assigned seating, staff can cater to special diets.

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