Wedding Guests Family Style Seating under Al Fresco Lighting

Table Layout Options and Tips for Your Weddings!

Table arrangements have become just as much of a focal point as a color scheme or design theme to a wedding day! Learn how your seating arrangement can transform the event space!

What is a “Head Table”?

A head table is where the couple will sit, and can be with their wedding party or other guests, or it can be separate as a “sweetheart” table. A sweet heart table is a small table, seating only the wedding couple.
Lately, we have seen a “King Table” trend, which is where the couple and wedding party sit along with the wedding parties significant others – this table configuration often consists of our wider king tables, which are 42″ wide, and guests sit on both sides.

Tablescape for a wedding at the Clubhouse at Baywood under a Sailcloth Tent
King Table, set up to seat the wedding couple, wedding party, plus their significant others. Guests are seated down both sides of a grouping of banquet tables.
sweet heart table wedding flowers
Sweetheart tables seat the wedding couple only, then the family and wedding party sit at other tables, close by.

Where do Parents sit?

Parents typically sit at the same table with other members of the immediate family of the wedding couple, but those who are not in the wedding party itself. Typically family members sit at tables in close proximity to the head table or sweet heart table. The flower girl and ring bearer, if applicable, typically sit with their parents but should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

What is “Family Style” Seating?

Family style seating can make your wedding reception very intimate, and is typically better for weddings with lower guest counts but can be done for larger weddings as well. Guest sit at groupings of long tables, most often two 8′ banquet tables together, seating a total of 16 guests per table.
Long family style tables are often mixed in with the more traditional round tables for guest seating. This also allows flexibility when planning your seating chart! You can seat groups of friends together at the long family style tables, and seat family members at the round tables. This style tends to look better in larger reception spaces, such as under a larger tent (or open design like a clear top tent) and works best when doing plated or family style dinner service. If you are having buffet style dinner service, make sure the larger tables of 16 guests will not overcrowd the buffet as tables are called up.
One downside of family style seating: Conversations at this style of table may not be as easy as when seated at a round table.

tables set up for family style seating at long tables with cross back chairs for wedding reception
Groupings of long family style seating. Shown here with cross back chairs.

What is the most traditional seating arrangement?

The most traditional seating arrangement is round tables for guest seating. The most commonly used round tables are 5′ round (60″) which seat 8 guests comfortably and 6′ round (72″) which seat 10 comfortably.
Centerpieces should be either below or above the sight line of guests while seated at the table, so that they do not block conversation across the table. View our table sizes and selection options here!

sailcloth wedding tent with round tables for guest seating
Sailcloth Tent shown with white tuscan bistro lights, and round tables for guest seating.

What is “Cocktail Style” Seating?

Cocktail Style seating is suitable for a party or reception when all guests won’t be seated and eating at the same time. This seating style is often paired with with food stations or heavy hors d’oeurve style food service.
Cocktail style seating encourages guests to mix and mingle throughout the evening.
We suggest having sit down tables for no more than 60% of your total guest count, typically at a mixture of smaller size round tables, possibly mixing in a few long tables. Then for the remaining 40% of your guest count, make sure to have a “space” for them; we suggest a mixture of high top tables for standing, a few high top tables paired with bar stools, and groupings of lounge furniture vignettes add an aesthetically pleasing touch.
This way, everyone has a “spot”, however, the unique layout creates a fun and party like atmosphere and flow to the evening.
View this photo gallery of a cocktail style wedding reception!

Other ideas for seating arrangements

A mixture of round and long tables allows you to create a more textured look throughout your event space. You an get creative with different table linens on the long tables versus the round tables; as well as decorate with taller center pieces on the round tables and lower, runner like center pieces on the long tables.

Square tables provide a twist on the traditional round table for guest seating. Our 5’x5′ square tables can comfortably seat 8-10 guests per table.

Mixing sizes of round tables gives you the option to seat different guest counts at each table.
For example: 3′ rounds seat 4-5 guests, 4′ rounds seat 5-6 guests. 5′ rounds seat 8-10 guests, and 6′ rounds seat 10-12 guests.

Wedding Layout and Floorplan CADs

Here at Collective Event Group, we offer free layout and design for your wedding reception through our CAD program. Our clients’ work with the sales department to come up with the perfect layout, taking the event space and flow of the evening into account.

Check out our Resources Page for more helpful blogs and tips when planning your wedding or special event; as well as our Event Gallery for more ideas!

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Welcome to Collective Event Group

With over 55 years of rental experience, Collective Event Group’s quality, selection and expert personalized approach sets us apart. We are the mid-atlantic’s most experienced rental company with the most locations and inventory available for any occasion!

Sailcloth Tent Wedding boho chic

With four showrooms to see our inventory in person, as well as see creative ideas and tablescape samples for your next event, we can’t wait to work with you!