Audrey F. asks: “What are the dimensions of the head table?”
MaryAnn says: “There are several ways to lay out your head table, so we will first want to determine what style head table you would like! Then we can look more closely at your number of attendants to be seated at the head table, along with available space for the table in the reception room, to determine the exact dimensions.
“I’ll describe a few of the different head table styles we’ve seen here at the Castle, and my recommendations for when they work best. Most popular is a traditional straight head table, with attendants seated on one side facing out towards the guests. This work well for wedding parties of up to 12, as more than that will create quite a long table, which may result in needing to remove guest tables to fit. For 12 attendants, this table will be 24’ long and 2.5’ wide (using three 8’x2.5’ banquet tables end to end). Another option for the head table style, which is similar to the straight head table, is a U-shape head table, where the two end tables are turned in to extend out from the back, straight portion of the table. This is a great alternative if you have a few more wedding party attendants, as it can create extra seats without adding to the length of the table. It also lets those wedding party attendants that are seated at both ends see the bride and groom more easily, as they’ll be seated facing in towards the center. This style fits up to 16 attendants comfortably; with more attendants, we would want to remove guest tables to make more space. For 16 attendants, this table will be 20’ long and 2.5’ wide (using one 8’x2.5 banquet table and two 6’x2.5’ banquet tables end to end), and will have a 6’x2.5’ banquet table extending forward from either end.
“We have seen a few more alternatives to those more traditional style head tables. Becoming more popular is the ‘sweetheart’ table, where it is a small round 4’-diameter table seating just the bride and groom. The wedding party members then either sit among the guest tables, or we create two separate head tables on either side of the sweetheart table for the wedding party attendants to sit. The most comfortable number of attendants on either side of the sweetheart table, if seated in a straight line, would be 6 on each side. They would be seated at a 12’ long and 2.5’ wide table (using two 6’x2.5’ banquet tables end to end). If you need to seat more attendants, we would want to remove guest tables to allow more room. Another head table style is called a ‘king’s table’, where attendants sit around all sides of a larger table. This works really well if you are planning to have wedding party members sit with their dates at the head table, as you can fit up to 26 attendants. For 26 attendants, the table would be 24’ long and 5’ wide (using six 8’x2.5’ tables, two tables wide, three tables long).
“If you have one of these styles picked out and have a different wedding party size than the examples above, simply reach out to us here at Castle Farms and we can give dimensions for your attendant count. Or, if you have other ideas or visions for your head table, let us know! We’re happy to discuss options, and see how they can fit in the reception spaces and what tables would work best to fit your space and attendant count.”
The table layout of a wedding reception can be challenging to plan, but a good table set up for a wedding encourages mingling, conversation, and celebration. By planning the tables carefully, the bride and groom can ensure their wedding reception is a success.
Sample Wedding Reception Table Layouts
No matter how long the guest list, the wedding reception table ideas must be planned carefully. The venue's dance floor location or bar may determine where tables are set. However, it still helps to have a few examples of wedding table set ups to work from for ideas.Related Articles
Basic Design for Modification
This is a basic table layout design for a rectangular space. The food table (or bar, if food is served by wait staff) and the head table are on opposite ends of the room. You can modify it for any size of wedding needed; just eliminate or add tables in the center. It's especially nice for a small room.
Centered Dance Floor Design
This is a set-up that has the dance floor front and center. It allows people to see both the head table and the dance floor at the same time. Centering the dance floor means everyone has a great view of the special wedding dances and songs and no one is placed too far back. Place your VIP tables (parents, grandparents, special guests or attendants not at the head table) between the head table and dance floor so they are close to everything.
Rectangular Table Design
If your reception doesn't have many round tables, you'll have to create a design that works with rectangular tables. It's also a good design for large weddings, and shows how to set up long tables for a wedding reception, since rectangular tables can frequently seat more people in the space. Try to keep room between the tables without people seated on the ends so that there's plenty of space for movement. Rows may not be the most exciting design, but they are efficient. Make sure the dance floor and head table are in full view of the tables. You can designate just the front part of the VIP tables for their seating and leave the rest for general guests.
Room Layout Considerations
Factors to consider when planning the wedding reception table layout include:
- Dancing: Enough space should be left for a dance floor so guests can dance the night away without crowding.
- Visibility: Key spaces for reception events need to be clearly visible from all tables. The couple's grand entrance, first dance, cake cutting, and wedding toasts are popular photo events and guests will need good visibility to capture these romantic moments.
- Movement: There should be enough space between tables to allow for smooth traffic flow to restrooms, a buffet area (if necessary), the bar, the dance floor, and for general mingling.
- Lighting: Tables should be positioned effectively for the available lighting. For an evening event, be aware of how a setting sun may blaze through windows, and be sure there is plenty of light for guests to enjoy dinner.
The Head Table
The head table is one of the most important at the wedding reception. In addition to the bride and groom, other individuals commonly seated at the head table include the couple's parents and the bridal party, or at least the maid of honor and best man depending on the available space. For the head or wedding party table to look its best:
- Decorations: Add extra head table decorations to distinguish it from other reception tables. Backdrops, special lighting, and elaborate centerpieces are easy ways to make this table stand out.
- Face guests: Keep everyone at the head table facing the guests. Round tables are generally inappropriate for the head table.
- Elevation options: Keep the table visible. Tiered or elevated designs are popular, especially for large bridal parties.
Once the head table has been placed, couples should start planning the wedding reception seating chart and other details for individual tables. Items to consider when planning individual tables include:
- Personal space: Cramming too many guests at a single table will be awkward and uncomfortable. The number of guests a table can seat depend on the table's size and the type of meal: guests will need more space for a full, formal dinner than for light snacks.
- Children: If there will be children at the wedding, they can be grouped together if they are old enough to sit away from their parents. Younger children should always be seated next to at least one parent, grandparent, or guardian.
- Ease: A large reception may have a complicated layout, and there should be an easy way for guests to find their seats. Place cards are popular, or place a labeled table diagram near the entrance.
While not all of these tables will be needed at every reception, knowing how to place them effectively will help keep the reception both beautiful and efficient.
- DJ: The wedding DJ or band may need special table arrangements. It is best to place these tables near the dance floor or room entrance.
- Gift table: Guests may bring gifts to the reception and a display table can showcase them elegantly. The table should be placed in a discreet location away from the entrance for better security.
- Guest book table: To encourage all guests to sign the guest book, this table should be in a visible location near the entrance. Many couples opt to put the guest book table in a foyer or other prominent location.
- Wishing well: Like a gift table, a wishing well should be discreetly placed where it is more secure but still visible.
- Cake table: The cake has a special moment during the reception and should be placed in a visible location or have enough décor around it to make it noticeable. At the same time, be sure there is enough space around the cake table for pictures without any danger of the cake getting damaged by a crowd.
Use Your Venue's Suggestions
Most reception venues will have sample layouts available to assist couples with planning the table layout of a wedding reception. Planning the tables for a wedding reception can be complicated, but good planning will help the reception flow more smoothly and be more enjoyable for everyone.
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Ideas for Your Wedding Reception Head Table
Searching for inspiration? At Emerson Fields we are a completely open, customizable wedding venue which means your head table may be designed any way you choose. We love assisting you with unique designs that showcase your own personality and wedding style. Vintage furniture, handpicked china, floral installations, and other fabulous décor items all work together to create a one of a kind look. Your wedding coordinator or planner, along with top notch vendors, can make your vision come to life!
It all starts with how many people are in your wedding party (this includes the bride and groom) and what type of a head table arrangement, or vibe, you want. You may not know the answer to either of those questions just yet, but in this blog we hope to give you some inspiration and ideas to toss around as you plan for your wedding day head table.
When asked, “What did you love about having your wedding at Emerson Fields?” this is what one of our brides had to say…
This bride, Kristen Rogers, has our heart with the organic color palette and ALL the white! She wanted a classic white wedding and she did a phenomenal job, along with D-Zines Weddings coordinating her day.
White linen napkins were rented from Keep It Simple in Brookfield, MO and D-Zines Weddings took care of all of the floral design, rentals and full wedding coordinating. It was a dream day for us and for Jake and Kristen!
The entire day was captured by Hillary, a Kelsi Kliethermes Photography associate photographer, and her assistant Grant. The “Let’s Get This Party Poppin” party favors from locally sourced, gourmet popcorn company, GoPo, were a huge hit! Kristen utilized all of the tables and chairs provided by us with her venue rental. She had 16 people seated in her traditional U-shape head table for the wedding party.
These photographs from Katelyn Young Photography show how this darling couple used soft pinks, blush and touches of peach tones to adorn their head table arrangement on the stage for a wedding party of 12 people. We used 3, eight foot banquet tables to form a U-shape in front of the altar cross.
Blue Diamond Events coordinated and decorated this lovely tablescape and highlighted the center table for the bride and groom with a cascading blush sequined tablecloth. Glassware was rented from A-1 Party & Event Rental in Columbia.
This was a very classic and pretty arrangement that allowed for the entire wedding party to be seated together as well as have the perfect vantage point for witnessing the couple’s first dance.
Isabelle and Coltan really allowed the beauty of the venue to shine through in their unique headtable design. A single white farmhouse table on the stage and a gorgeous floral arrangement from Sugarberry Blooms was the focal point for the evening. The white drapery from the curtains doubled as a decorative backdrop to this simple, elegant design. This lovely wedding shows just how a little bit of “décor” and fresh flowers can be used in order to create a perfect, customized design for your wedding day at Emerson Fields. Teri Ann Forck Photography captured this wedding beautifully in these shots!
These shots of a unique head table arrangement are from a styled shoot we hosted with Styled Shoots Across America with a citrus-inspired palette. Kelsey Alumbaugh Photography shot this beautiful event and we love the bright pops of color! The vintage china and flatware were rented from Good Stuff China company and the furniture is a combination of vintage rentals from Pretty Little Things and A-1 Party & Event Rentals in Columbia. The gorgeous candlesticks were sourced from Pretty Little Things and the floral designer was D-Zines Weddings from Macon. All of the linens we used were from A-1 Party & Event Rental.
Our inspiration behind this design was a sweetheart table for the newlyweds with two sweetheart side tables for both sets of their parents, or perhaps maids of honor and best men. Wouldn’t it be such an elegant opportunity to have your parents dine beside you and have the best view of your first dance together?
A note about Good Stuff China: these ladies will work with you on finding the perfect mix/match china combination or vintage collection for your wedding day AND you can either rent it from them or purchase it as your own! What a fabulous idea to use your own china collection for your first meal together as husband and wife!
These photos are taken from Erik and Holly Reese’s summer wedding and were captured by Kelsi Kliethermes Photography. We adore the airy, fresh feel to this couple head table arrangement. Holly and Erik had a large wedding party of 20 people. Side note: all of Holly’s bridesmaids were sisters or sisters-in-law!
Due to the large number of people in the wedding party the couple opted to do 4, eight foot banquet tables and a sweetheart table. Two of the banquet tables were in front of the stage on the floor and two were flanking the round sweetheart table. All of the tables and chairs used in their design were from Emerson Fields. This arrangement gave a very regal aesthetic to their wedding reception.
The beautiful bronze-gold chargers and slate charcoal napkins were rented from A.B. Helton Fine Linens in Macon. The wonderful thing about working with Angela and her crew at A.B. Helton is they offer free delivery and pick up from our venue. D-Zines Weddings rented the round arbor, gold votives and vases, and created all of the floral designs you see pictured here.
While many love a classic, white wedding others find it a little too simple. If that’s you, Trent Broglin Photography captured the perfect rainbow ombre “king’s table” during a recent stylized shoot! If you can’t choose just one color for your accent, why not add each color of the rainbow? This effect is truly a jaw dropper!
Styled and Staged STL provided all the perfect candy-colored place settings. Signed Sealed Delivered Events took care of the pretty details while An Affair to Remember designed all the coordinating floral arrangements. If you are a fun-loving couple that wants a super creative design for your wedding day, this might be just the inspiration you need!
Rachel B Photography really captured this classic, vintage style perfectly for McKenna and Brandon’s wedding . They chose to have a sweetheart table on the stage next to their live band, Keota. The wedding party and family sat at the white farmhouse tables decorated with vintage books, glassware, greenery, and touches of soft blue. A.B. Helton took care of all the rented colorful linens, glassware, and chargers to make the whole vision come to life.
We loved the monochromatic look to this wedding with all the varied hues of blue accents. The embroidered table numbers, handmade by the bride’s sister, gave a cozy and familial feel to the reception space. Plus, it was so special for the couple to be front and center so family and friends were able to enjoy the live music and witness McKenna and Brandon’s choreographed first dance.
Pictured in the gallery below are four different head table designs.
Photos 1-4 are from Juliana Jumper Photography of an intimate, stylized shoot with a solitary sweetheart table using our small, white farmhouse table. The blush velvety linens from A-1 Rentals added warmth as well as texture and a soft boldness to this wintery tablescape. Delicate candles, fresh florals from Sugarberry Blooms, and a harvest dinner from Nolands Catering really gives off Pride and Prejudice vibes. “Do anything rather than marry without affection.” - Jane Austen
Photos 5-8 were taken by Grace Earhart Photography from Kirksville, Missouri and was, hands down, the most unique wedding and dining experience planned by the bride’s mother. There was such a fun collection of personal touches and rental pieces that combined to make this day special. Vendors involved were A-1 Party & Event Rental, D-Zines Weddings, Pretty Little Things, and A.B Helton Fine Linens. There was no head table as the bride and groom dined privately and joined the dinner reception later. We were enamored with the details of this day as well as the ceremony-to-dinner seating arrangement.
Photos 9-12 are from an inspiration shoot with McDonald Video & Photography of Hannibal, Missouri. We designed a family-style head table on our back patio overlooking the lake. The white farmhouse table we used is typically found in our foyer as the guest book table. The trendy wood chairs, glassware and silverware were from A-1 Party & Event Rental, chargers were from Pier 1, charcoal gray plates were from Target, gorgeous denim blue linen napkins were from BBJ Linen Rental, individual pottery pieces are from a creative artist we adore out of Columbia, Missouri, Ashley Herndon, and the AMAZING floral designer was Emily with Sugarberry Blooms. WHEW! We’re still not over the amazing details this team brought together!
Photos 13-15 had one of the most unique wedding reception set ups, thanks to Sarah and Carson Miller from Columbia, MO. They chose to not have a traditional headtable because they had live dueling pianos, Whorlow Entertainment, on the stage during the reception. Instead, they used the long white farmhouse tables in the center aisle of the venue to seat the wedding party and family. This truly gave the space a “family style” since the bride and groom sat with everyone else on the main floor. Tannah Terry Photography captured a lot of love in this wedding and you can view an entire blog post dedicated to it by clicking here.
Kendra and Brady from Marceline, Missouri were married in early Spring and they had a large wedding party of 18. Their head table was a U-shape with a round sweetheart table/cake table in the center. The wooden cross behind the table added depth and texture to the space, but it was also a symbol of the couple’s faith. All of the tables and chairs they used were from Emerson Fields, but their gorgeous charcoal gray table linens were rented from A.B. Helton Fine Linens.
Don’t you LOVE the idea of keeping the cake for yourself? The wedding guests were served other cupcakes at a dessert bar. We thought that was a cute way to allow all of the guests to watch the cake cutting. We also adore Morgan Lee Wedding Photography and her light-airy photography style!
Natasha and Ryan, from the Rolla, Missouri area, had the perfect warm, moody design style that blended so well with Ivy & Ink Photography. A lush garland of greenery topped the headtable where the couple and wedding party sat. Blush, mauve, and dark greenery accents popped against all the white linens and unique candle holders added a little whimsical touch to the design. We love the added “Thank You” note to the place setting to show how much the couple loved and appreciated their guests. The wedding party got to be close to the couple as they shared a meal and toasted the new Mr. and Mrs. with everyone seated on the stage together. Since the couple chose an indoor wedding ceremony, the circular arbor made the perfect backdrop for portraits, the wedding ceremony, and the reception.
Whitney and Jordan Coffman got married on a snow covered day in January. Don’t you just love a cozy winter wedding? They had a gorgeous head table on the stage with 2, eight foot banquet tables. Bringing in that cozy feeling were dozens of white candles shimmering off gold sequin table runners to give it the perfect touch of sparkle. Even in a winter wedding, white blooms and fresh greenery are classic and always in season.
The couple also chose to set up a lounge area against the brick wall of the venue for people to relax and socialize . It really gave the evening a romantic, intimate feeling. Sheara Jennings photographed this beautiful wedding and shows the uniqueness of a glamourous winter wedding.
These are just a few of the head table designs we’ve seen. We’ve touched on weddings with only sweetheart tables and head table arrangements with up to 20 people. We hope this collection of ideas and images will provide some inspiration to you to do things your way. You can always email us with questions or ideas, use our open venue events to come in and plan your table arrangements hands-on, or schedule a time to come by with your wedding coordinator and talk through some options. If you don’t yet have a wedding coordinator we HIGHLY recommend hiring one and we’ve got some friends in the biz so we can hook you up with the best of the best! We can’t wait to see what you come up with for your own unique head table!
The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Reception Tables
Depending on the length, rectangular tables can seat anywhere from a larger group of 10 to a more intimate gathering of just four. “Typically I use an oversized rectangle table that is a 4’ x 8’ table,” shares Kelly. “For seated dinners, this offers more space for your charger, glassware, and more, while still allowing plenty of space for floral in the center of the table.” Perfect for an outdoor reception (with or without a tent) a rectangular table creates a sort of symmetry throughout the space.
On the downside, from a catering perspective, you could potentially run into a few hang-ups when it comes to rectangular tables. “Depending on the style of service and how many servers you have, it may require more servers to be able to serve a large party at one table,” cautions Kelly. “Technically, you should serve an entire table at once, but if you have 40 people at one table that means you would need 20 servers to be able to plate at one time. With an eight top table, you only need four servers. I find it looks more natural to space out at a rectangular table, instead of putting four people per side and two on each end.”
Keeping social distancing a priority, you can leave the ends open and then seat two to three people per side depending on how comfortable they are with another person’s proximity.
Wedding head u shaped table
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