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The key to a perfect seating plan

Don’t let an improper seating plan ruin a dinner party

· French Etiquette

Back in the 17th century, the dining table was a place not only for having a meal but also for negotiation and diplomacy. Louis XIV was famous for setting strict seating plans in Versailles and this tradition has been circulating for years.

Nowadays, the seating plans are usually more relaxed, but they still apply in many occasions, such as weddings, charity dinners, business dinners or even dinners with family or friends. 

A proper seating plan is the key to a successful dinner. Let’s take a look!

How to design a seating plan?

The Western seating plan is quite different from the Chinese one. In Chinese dining etiquette, the shape of the table is always round while in the West, it’s usually rectangular. Additionally, the host would normally sit in the middle of the table in China while he/she would be sitting at the end of a Western table.

There are also some similarities between Chinese and Western dining seating plans. For example, the guest of honor, which could be an elder, a manager, a person celebrating his or her birthday, would normally sit to the right of the host. Then the seat of the second most important guest would be arranged to the left of the host.

For the rest of the guests, they would be sitting alternating genders, friends and guests who don’t know each other, in order to create a more interesting dinner moment. Don't hesitate to separate couples to increase interaction between all guests!

If there are two hosts, each of them will be sitting at one end of the table, and welcome to their right and left sides guests of the opposite gender, following degree of importance.

Traditionally, if the hosts are couples, the husband would sit facing the door and the wife would sit close to the door. It gives the hostess easy access to the kitchen and would be more convenient to indicate the seats to the guests.

Traditionally, the distance to the host decides the importance of different guests. Simply put, the guest who sits closer to the host would be considered to be more important than the guest who sits further. Nowadays, this tradition has been gradually relaed as each guest tend to be regarded as equally important in a dinner party.

What to consider as a guest?

When attending a dinner, don’t sit down first. You should wait for the host’s indication or let the host show you your own seat.

You should ask the host if there is any specific seating plan before taking a seat. Some dinners may not set seating plans, while others would have specified ones. You need to figure it out before sitting down.

Engage conversations with strangers. Western dinner parties emphasize on socializing and enhancing interpersonal relationships. Don’t be shy to talk to strangers. 

You are now ready to make or follow a perfect seating arrangement at your next French dinner!

Founded in 2018 by Matthieu Ventelon, Hedonia is the first institution in China combining professional Wine and Etiquette expertise in the same training offer.

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