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Getting the Wedding Reception Tables Right


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Who would have thought there were so many options when it comes to seating your guests? Although you may be limited by your reception space, there are a myriad of ways to seat everyone at your wedding.  Wedding blogger, Ms Polkadot from Polkadot Bride provides her top tips for seating your wedding guests.

  • The head table:  The most popular option in Australia is still the head table. A long rectangular table sits in the most prominent place of the reception room and the bride and groom are often flanked by their bridal party.  The table can be elevated, placed to the side of the room, the front of the room, or at one end of the dance floor.
  • The sweetheart table:  A sweetheart table is a table just for the bride and groom. Often located near the dance floor and cake table, the sweetheart table allows the newlyweds a semi private dinner alone but is also beneficial for their bridal party who may want to sit with their partners.  Some couples love the idea, as it eliminates bridal party seating issues and allows them to eat their first meal together quietly. Others don't enjoy it as it can be isolating and more ‘on show' than a standard table.
  • Other types of head tables: You may choose to make your head table the same shape and size as your guests' tables and sit the table in among your guests.  You may choose to sit with your parents instead of your bridal party, and seat your bridal party with their partners (or you can all sit together). You may choose to have vacant places at a number of tables and sit at a different table of guests for every course.
  • Round tables.  The most traditional option is to seat guests in numbers of 8-10 at large round tables. Most reception venues offer this option. Round tables can typically seat between 8-12 guests. 
  • Square tables.  Square tables are a modern take on the round table and can create a better atmosphere for easy conversation between your guests. They can also look rather elegant and formal with an equal number of guests sitting on all sides. Decorations are made easier too - table runners fit better and centrepieces can take on a different feel, given that they have more space. Square tables typically seat between 2-3 guests on each side (8 or 12).
  • Rectangular tables.  Long rectangular tables give a wedding an intimate, family-like feel. Seating all guests at only two long tables will give a dramatic touch to your reception. Of course you could break them up, or set them up to line the end of the head table.  Remember, long rectangular tables for large guest numbers do not promote mingling as well as round or square tables.
  • Alternating tables.  Alternating the table top shape is a great way to provide a different feel to your reception. Mixing it up can give you a variety of options on how you want to seat guests.  Guests who know each other well might be comfortable at a square table, whereas a round table may help conversation for unfamiliar guests.
  • Cocktail/bistro tables.  Perfect for those having a cocktail wedding, cocktail or bistro tables allow guests to rest their bags and drinks and provide spots to mingle. The ratio of these is, of course, less than guests!  A low cocktail table may hold two guests and two chairs, while a tall table (often called a highboy) is simply for standing.
  • The buffet table.  These days, buffets are not limited to casual weddings. Formal weddings can provide delicious feasts, even breaking up buffets so there is a seafood buffet, salad buffet and cake buffet. When done well, buffet tables can provide not only a feast for the mouth but also a feast for the eyes!
  • The cake table.  Often displayed in front of the head table, the cake table holds the most delicious part of the wedding reception - the cake! The cake table can hold just the cake but is often decorated with rose petals and candles.
  • The lolly buffet.  The lolly or candy buffet may be placed on the same table as the cake table. Ensure that this is placed in an area where there won't be a bottleneck if guests are gathered around it (which they surely will!)
  • The guestbook table.  This table will hold the guest book or wishing tree. Situated near the door, or to the side of a reception room, the guest book table can hold your creative guest book or just a traditional version.
  • Other tables.  You may also consider a gift and card table, a wishing well table, a drinks table, photo and mementos table, and a table for wedding favors.  Another good option is a children's table, staffed by one or two qualified baby sitters. Serve kid friendly food, provide quiet toys, puzzles and colouring-in books to keep children occupied.

Once you've settled on the types of tables you'd like at your wedding reception, it's time to get down to the nuts and bolts of seating charts.



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