Who Joins You at the Head Table?
Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Even if you do not intend to have a full seating chart at your wedding, you will still need to determine who will be joining you as guests of honor at your table. While many newlyweds choose to invite their wedding party to join them, you may want to enjoy this meal as a couple or with your own family. There are a lot of options when it comes to deciding who will join you for dinner on your wedding day, the good news is, there is no one right way to do it! Some of your options are outlined below, always remember the way you want to feel on your wedding day and decide which option to go with based on which gives you those feels. Read this post to get some ideas for head table styles and alternatives.
In the United States, the bride and groom are traditionally joined at the head table by the entirety of the wedding party. The bride sits to the right of the groom with the maid of honor seated to the groom’s left and the best man seated on the bride’s right. Same-sex couples may choose to seat themselves however is most comfortable. If sticking with tradition, the remainder of your wedding party will continue the male, female pattern down a single side of the table. The arrangement now more commonly seen is the maid-of-honor seated directly to the bride’s right with all of the bride’s attendants joining her on the same side of the table. The same arrangement would be applied to the best man and groom’s attendants to the left of the groom. And hey, if you mess it up, could it have mattered that much in the first place?
Wedding Party Plus
If a large contingent of your wedding party has a significant other in attendance at your wedding, you may want to ask them to join you at your head table as well. If you decide to include your wedding party’s dates at the head table and want to maintain the male-female pattern down the table, seat the maid of honor in her traditional seat on the groom’s left with her date to her left. The remaining members of the wedding party would be seated in like fashion, maintaining the gendered pattern. See “family table” and “kings table” in my post on head table alternatives as a variation of the one-sided head table. I especially recommend doing away with the one-sided head table if there are more than eight members in your wedding party plus dates, keeping in mind that each additional person at your head table requires an additional two feet of space in order to be comfortably seated.
If you have a large wedding party it may seem like too much to invite all significant others to dine at your table. If this is the case, or if you simply are looking to spend some quality time with your immediate family, consider allowing the members of your wedding party to sit with their families instead. This opens you up to also invite your immediate family to join you at the head table.
A perfect option for those who are overwhelmed by the choices, are looking for ways to conserve space, don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, or simply want to dine in a semi-intimate way with their new spouse. The sweetheart table is set just for the newlyweds with the wedding party either at their own separate tables or dispersed throughout the seating chart amongst friends and family.
Couple Plus Two
If you like the idea of being able to actually eat during dinner but the idea of a sweetheart table is too lonely for a day of celebration, invite your maid-of-honor and best man to dine with you. I especially like this idea if your maid-of-honor and best man are acting as your witnesses. Duck away right before dinner to sign your certificate and celebrate this intimate moment the four of you just shared by then sharing a meal together.
If including children at your head table, the traditional arrangement would be to seat your ring bearer to the bride's right and the flower girl to the grooms left, however, many couples choose to seat any child attendants with the children’s parents during dinner. If you or your fiance are bringing children to your marriage or if you already have children together, consider giving them a spot of honor at the head table with you.
Note: In the United Kingdom the traditional arrangement for the head table differs slightly, it is an option you may want to take into consideration. The bride and groom are joined by both sets of their parents in addition to the maid of honor and best man. The bride’s side of the table would follow this order: the bride, bride’s father, bride’s mother, best man. The groom's side: the groom, groom’s mother, groom’s father, maid of honor.