• Allison Foley

Head Table Styles and Alternatives

Design by Allison Foley Event Design

A head table, king’s table, sweetheart table, what is the difference and how do you choose? Once you’ve determined who will join you for dinner, you will want to decide how to arrange your head table. Here you will learn about some different head table styles and alternatives. There are some considerations you will want to take into account when deciding which type of table to use at your wedding.

Table Styles

Head Table

The head table is the most traditional option for honored seating at your wedding. The traditional head table is one long rectangle with the newlyweds and wedding party sitting on only one side of the table, typically facing the dancefloor and wedding guests. To see how to arrange wedding party members or options for others who may join you at the head table, check out this post.

Family Table

With this arrangement, your wedding party will join you around the table instead of sitting on just one side as they would with a head table. A family table is a great option if your venue is a bit tight for the number of guests in attendance. A family table can be any shape you want. Consider placing a circular table in the middle of the dance floor to be a focal point for all of your guests while also providing a space for your wedding party to converse over dinner. The table will be cleared after dinner. A serpent table, farmhouse table, or traditional banquet table are all options for this arrangement as well.

King’s Table

Sometimes called a “King Author’s Table” this table is generally made by pushing four eight-foot banquet tables together to make a sixteen by five-foot table around which the wedding party gathers. This option offers a bold statement but can be tricky to work out if you have too many or too few members of your wedding party. It also requires you to rent double the quantity of linens as you have twice the tablespace.


An intimate table for two. A sweetheart table can either be centered on your dance floor as a traditional head table would be, or you can opt to offset the table to allow for a slight amount of privacy at an event centered around you. Couples have been getting extremely creative with alternative seating options and an array of table styles and luxury linens to allow the sweetheart table to stand out. Even if you are keeping your guest tables simple, it can be fun to go all out on the design of the table at which you and your spouse will share your first meal together as a married couple.

Variations of the Head Table

Design by Allison Foley Event Design

Sweetheart Table with Angles

Can’t decide between a sweetheart and a head table? Do a bit of a combo! With this arrangement, you will have a sweetheart table centered for you and your spouse with two banquet tables extending at angles on either side for your wedding party to be arrayed. Once again, playing with your linens and seating options can be really fun if you decide to opt for this table arrangement.

U-Shaped Table

This is a great option for a large wedding party and I’ve also seen it used at intimate weddings to seat the entire guest list. This variation on a head table is especially lovely if your venue has a stage. Arrange banquet tables in a U-shape and seat the wedding party in the same way you would have them seated at a traditional head table. Read this post to explore options of who will join you at your dinner table on your wedding day.

Double Rowed Head Table

Another option for a large wedding party. If you love the idea of a traditional head table but have too many members in your wedding party to accommodate them all in one long row, consider doing two rows of head tables with the back row elevated on a stage. This will give your head table a grandstand look. The newlyweds will still be the center of attention, typically sitting centered in the back row.

Considerations when Deciding

Size of Your Wedding Party

Best options for large wedding parties:

Kings Table

Sweetheart table

U-Shaped head Table

Double Rowed Head Table

Best options for small wedding parties:

Head table

Sweetheart table

Sweetheart table with angles

Venue Space/ Square Footage

Head tables take up a lot of space, if your guest count is close to the venue maximum, a sweetheart table might be your best bet if you do not want to have to clear tables. If your venue has a stage you may want to use if for a head table or any variations of the head table mentioned above.

Size of Wedding

It may be a bit awkward to have a full head table at a wedding with less than 30 people, at which half of the guests are in the wedding party. In this case, either seat all of your guests around a U-shape table, opt for a sweetheart table or go with more uniform seating for all guests. For large weddings, the size of your space and the wedding party will be more important factors in determining what type of head table to use.

Event Flow

How do you want your event to flow? A family or king’s table is great for conversation, but awkward when half the table is trying to swivel around to hear the toasts. Decide how you want to spend the dinner hour. A lot of couples end up spending the majority of dinner welcoming guests and mingling, however, if you plan on getting a chance to enjoy the meal you have curated, think through how your seating selection will affect your ability to either mingle or enjoy your meal. A sweetheart table will allow you to eat quickly, enjoy a conversation, and start conversing, whereas a king’s table will be a better option if you are looking to dive into some quality conversation with just your tablemates.

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