• Allison Foley

Deciding on Table Type for Flow and Feel

While there are many elements that contribute to the flow and feel of your wedding, guest tables will likely dominate the space at your event. Seating guests at round tables takes up about 12 square feet per guest, at a 150 person wedding, that’s 1,800 square feet taken up by guest tables. How you arrange these tables will significantly affect the feel and flow of the event. We will review some traditional and some more unique seating styles that can help achieve the event feel and flow your desire.

Rounds

Seating guests at 60-inch rounds with ten guests at each table is the most popular seating option for weddings. Not only do many venues include these tables in their venue cost, but round tables also allow you to use the space at your venue most effectively. Additional benefits of round tables are that they facilitate natural conversation amongst party guests, they generally allow easy navigation for wait staff, and they give your venue a uniform but soft feel. If you decide to exclusively use rounds as your guest seating there are a few considerations to keep in mind. One of the reasons people love round tables is because of the ease of conversation. This being said, do not overcrowd the table with guests or decor. Think tall and bursting, low and subtle, or sparse and easily seen through when deciding on your centerpieces. Keep the maximum number of guests per table at 10, more than this will make conversing awkward. Do more than stagger your rows. When putting together your floorplan it can be easy to fall into the trap of setting your tables out like the pips on the “five” face of a die. Work on creating a more organic arrangement for your tables so that your event space has a more natural flow and feel.



Feasting Banquet Tables

The next most popular seating style at a wedding is banquet style. This option requires a bit more space per guest, but unless you are maxing out your venue’s capacity, this style of seating should still be possible in most spaces. The “feasting table” effect is achieved by placing 8-foot banquet tables end to end, covering them with linens, and seating 4 guests per side of each table. This style of seating is possible with standard, 30-inch banquet tables, but keep in mind that this will leave only 6 inches of space between guests’ place settings. Decor options will be limited as anything more than some simple bud vases and candles will leave the table feeling crowded. This limited decor will actually help facilitate conversations between guests sitting across from each other. Of course, you can opt to rent wider tables, or rent farmhouse tables from Elite Events.


Combo

One of my favorite looks is when seating styles are mixed. I have heard brides worry about implementing this idea for fear of hurting the feelings of their guests if they do not get their preferred table type. The majority of your guests will appreciate the attention you paid to the design of your event and won’t worry about whether they are seated at a 10-person round or a banquet table. Combining barn-wood banquet tables with linen-covered rounds allows your wedding to retain the soft feel of the linen with the elegant, rustic feel of barn-wood. If space is of no concern, the combinations of tables you can use are endless. If you are going for a modern edgy look, combine square and round tables.



Family-Style Seating

For weddings under 50, a huge array of seating options becomes available to you. Space is likely not to be an issue at your selected venue. To really keep the intimate feel your guest count allows for, you may want to do away with the idea of a head table completely and join your guests at the head of a single, family-style table. Arrange banquet tables in a large U-shape with yourselves and your wedding party spanning a single side of the short side. Guests will be seated on both sides of the two long rows extending from the “head table”. Alternatively, you can create a giant king’s table for all guests to gather around, or create a large rectangle out of banquet tables with empty space in the middle.


Picnic

With so many innovative ways of taking your wedding off-grid, picnic weddings can be a blast! Bee’s Vintage Party Rentals has over 40 authentic vintage picnic baskets for rent and can help bring the “family picnic” vibe to any size event. Seating for this style wedding could look like picnic blankets, pallet tables with soft seating, park tables, or anything else you can dream up.


Design by Allison Foley Event Design

Social Style

Keep in mind that your wedding does not need to follow the “traditional” flow of events. Instead of ordering 3-4 horderves per guest, order 10-12 and extend your cocktail hour to two hours, skipping a formal dinner altogether. This arrangement is not for everyone but is particularly nice for a couple who does not want to be the center of attention for the entire night or for larger parties where a formal sit down dinner would not be conducive to the space. If opting for this style, be sure there is still seating around to utilize, the goal is not to make your guests uncomfortable. I’m a big fan of V.O.P. lounges.



Look at your space, consider the feel and flow you are going for, keep your guest list in mind, and ask your wedding planner for their recommendation. Keeping the same look all around your reception hall will give a bold appearance, allowing you to define and centralize your room. Including multiple styles of tables naturally increases the movement in your room and gives the event a more relaxed vibe. The next phase to define your flow and feel will be deciding what seating option to go with. Again, you are not limited to selecting just one option!

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