The Table Plan
Couples often tell me that creating the table plan is one of the hardest parts of wedding planning! I hope however that this blog post will help make it a little easier. The first thing to really think about is the top table. Traditionally this would be made up of the wedding couple, both sets of parents, Maid of Honour and Best Man; the traditional seating arrangement for this would be as follows -
It is however much more common now for each set of parents to be sat together, rather than being sat separately. The other thing to consider is that if the Maid of Honour and Best Man are a couple, they may not want want to be at complete opposite ends of the table! Another option would be to have a round rather than a straight top table - this is much more sociable as allows everyone to chat across the table. This option is preferred by some couples also because it feels less formal and you're not as 'on display' as it can feel with a straight top table.
If your family unit doesn't follow the traditional and conventional norms, then you may want to look at other options. For example, between my partner and I we have four sets of parents - that would be a very long top table! To avoid conflict between divorced parents you could look at the idea of each of them hosting their own table. This would mean that each set of parents is on a tables, perhaps of their own family and friends. With parents not on the top table, you could instead put the Best Man, Maid of Honour, groomsmen and bridesmaids on the top table. Another option would be to have the wedding party sat at the other tables and the wedding couple have a sweetheart table.
A sweetheart table is an increasingly popular choice and is essentially just a table for two - the newly weds! It offers a lovely intimate moment for the two of your to actually take in the wedding day together. So much of the day is spent talking to with guests that it is important to allocate time to just be together and cherish your big day. Having a sweetheart table rather than a full top table can also help avoid any conflict from family members who ask 'how come they get to be on the top table and I don't?'
With your other tables it is also important to think about who sits with who. It can be nice to mix up the tables with guests who may not have met before - giving the chance for the two families to mingle. In my experience though, I have found that there is usually more chat and a greater sense of atmosphere if people are sat with other that they already know. Your guests will feel more relaxed with familiar people and there will likely be fewer awkward silences between them!
When finalising the table layout, you should then consider how these tables are positioned. I would highly recommend that the tables closest to the top table or sweetheart table are those for immediate family and closest friends. Are there any people who may benefit from being sat by the door - guests in a wheelchair, those with young babies or perhaps older guests who will want to pop out of the room? Also keep in mind that you ideally want to avoid putting that rowdy group of friends from work next to the table of elderly relatives!
There can be a lot to think about, but once you've cracked that table plan it's one big task complete!