Wedding reception seating arrangements: Pros and cons for every table layout

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wedding reception seating arrangements

Louisa Bailey via The Style Co.

You’ve been planning this wedding since you were a little girl right down to the color boutonniere your groom would have, but did you take some time to envision the wedding reception seating arrangements or the set-up of the tables? Probably not in as much detail! Nowadays when choosing a color scheme or a theme to your wedding, couples envision many aspects of their final reception look with table arrangements being just as important as the linens, lighting and flowers. Whether you’re going for an intimate setting or lavish affair, reception seating has the ability to transform a venue!

Just some quick pointers before you start ooh-ing and aah-ing over how many geometric formations you can make with tables:

  • The bride & groom typically sit at the middle of a long table (which is the head table) and are seated with the bridal party and the groomsmen.
  • The parentals sit at the same table as well as members of the immediate family who are not in the wedding party. The flower girl and ringbearer usually sit with the parents. Seating, of course, is flexible and can needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
  • If there are guests who just SIMPLY cannot be civil with each other (but you have to invite them), make sure to assign them seats far, far away from each other. They can thank you later for not spoiling their appetite with the company of Person-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

With space being the ultimate deciding factor for you in considering layout of the tables – there are a few options to choose from and questions to ask yourself & the venue!

The Long & Short Of It!

On trend lately is family style seating. These aren’t reserved for outdoor or tented weddings anymore! Couples are able to incorporate both large rectangular tables as well as rows of longer tables.

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Concept Photography via Every Last Detail

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Photography by Vanessa via The Knot

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Desi Baytan via Vera Wang Unveiled

Pros for this style seating:

  • Can make your reception very intimate
  • Cost of linen would be lower considering you would have less tables to outfit
  • Really great for destination weddings with not as many guests in attendance
  • Your table decor will look seamless along the longer table
  • Makes for really beautiful photos of the tables

Cons for this style seating:

  • If one person ends up being a no show or last minute cancellation it can throw off your entire seating chart
  • Tend to look better in larger spaces like lofts & outdoors
  • You would probably have to choose a plated dinner – if one table went up to the buffet stations that would result in many guests being up at the same time to get food
  • Conversation flow may not be the easiest as you’ll probably be speaking exclusively with the neighbor to your left/right and directly in front of you

Square Peg, Round Hole

If you’re wanting to stay on the more traditional path round and square would be the way to go! Having round tables at your reception doesn’t necessarily mean 8 or 10 people to a table. You could always go a more intimate round and get smaller tables.

Wedding reception seating arrangements

KT Merry Photography via Martha Stewart Weddings

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Sera Petras via Southern Weddings Magazine

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Dana Cubbage via Southern Weddings Magazine

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Todd Pellowe

Pros to this style seating:

  • Most if not all venues offer two variations of round tables
  • If one person is a no show or last minute cancellation it will not throw off the seating arrangement
  • You can always do different sizes of the rounds to accommodate for your guest list
  • Easier to mingle around the room

Cons to this style seating:

  • It’s classic so if your more of a modern couple – this might not be for you
  • You have to be careful what centerpieces are used because you don’t want to block the flow of conversation at the table
  • Round tables take up a larger amount of space and don’t fit as cleanly against the walls

Of course, if round tables aren’t your style, you can add a more modern touch to the reception by using square tables.

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Christian Oth via Lindsay Landman Events

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Pink Orchid Weddings

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Leah Verwey Photography via Brides

Pros to this style seating:

  • Offers a modern look to a ballroom wedding
  • Your guests will have an easy flow to conversation
  • Aerial photos of the reception will look really great

Cons to this style seating

  • Since it’s not the standard table – linens would cost extra
  • If your venue does not offer a square table option again this would be an extra cost
  • Standard square tables are limited to only fitting 8 people per table – so may have to accommodate more tables or get larger square tables

If you can’t decide which option you like best, incorporate them all!

It’s true — you don’t need to stick to just one type of seating arrange at your wedding day. If you like all these ideas, there’s room for all of them at your table (pun intended)!

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Nancy Ray Photography via The Knot

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Justine Ungaro via The Knot

Wedding reception seating arrangements

Davis Photographers via Elizabeth Anne Designs

Pros to this style seating:

  • Makes your reception space look very unique
  • Gives you many options for arranging and accommodating guests
  • Aerial photographs of the reception will be beautiful

Cons to this style seating:

  • If the layout of the tables is done haphazardly can look cluttered
  • Your linen & floral budget could increase since there are so many variations

In reality, the reception seating for your wedding can be as unique you want it to be. There really is no right or wrong way to set up your tables for your reception, but if your venue is stringent make sure to add that to the list of questions you ask them. With cost, location & guest list all being major factors in the decision as well.

So, brides – do you have a favorite reception table set up? If you’ve already walked down the aisle – what style did you choose for your wedding?

bianaperezThis post was written by Biana of Bloved Boston. Biana is a twenty-something newlywed that is quite simply giddy over weddings. Read along as she writes about food, fashion & fitness (and lots more in between) on her blog, Bloved Boston, and follow her @blovedboston on Twitter!

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READER COMMENTS (11)

  1. Erica Roux on | Reply

    I love love love this post Biana… and the images you picked are perfect! I’m SO for a long table <3

    xoxo

  2. YB on | Reply

    Fantastic article with fabulous ideas…I wish I could get married all over again (to the same guy of course!) :-)

  3. I wanted long or square tables SO bad but everyone I talked to advised me against them & in the end it was probably for the best because we didn’t have too much room to get creative with the layout– I do really love the look of mixed seating though!

  4. This post literally made my heart race with excitement! The examples you showcased are absolutely stunning! My caterer has done a lot of the family style arrangements and at first I was so turned off but they are really gorgeous! I went to a wedding over the summer where they had square tables and they were so large I couldn’t talk to the person across from me! I think we are going to stick with the rounds because that guest list number is cut off at 100. Beautiful post!!!!

  5. I love the square tables, it seems like it would be so much more room than the traditional round tables!

  6. Laura Charlotte on | Reply

    This is really helpful as I start planning my wedding! I love the traditional round but I might have to reconsider after reading this and explore some other great options for my venue! Thanks, Biana!!

  7. Wonderful article! I’m not the designing type of planner — I’m more the coordinating type of planner, so having these ideas to share with my couples is great!!!! I love the square table idea, but it wasn’t an option when I got married many years ago!

  8. Marie on | Reply

    I think it is easier to have conversations at long tables. At round tables (especially the larger ones), it is impossible to talk to anyone except the person to your left and right. One question – what should the maximum length of a long table be?

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