Nowadays when choosing a color scheme or a theme to your wedding, couples envision many aspects of their final reception look with table arrangements being just as important as the linens, lighting and flowers. Whether you’re going for an intimate setting or lavish affair, reception seating has the ability to transform a venue! There are many different ideas these days and here are the pros and cons for many different options.

The basics:

The bride & groom typically sit at a “head table” which oftentimes is in the middle of a long table and are seated with the bridal party.

The parentals sit at the same table as well as members of the immediate family who are not in the wedding party. The flower girl and ring bearer usually sit with the parents. Seating, of course, is flexible and needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If there are guests who just SIMPLY cannot be civil with each other (but you have to invite them), make sure to assign them seats far, far away from each other. This will make things go smoother for everyone involved.

With space being the ultimate deciding factor for you in considering layout of the tables – there are a few options to choose from and questions to ask yourself & the venue!

Family style seating


Pros for this style seating:

  • Can make your reception very intimate
  • Cost of linen would be lower considering you would have less tables to outfit
  • Really great for destination weddings with not as many guests in attendance
  • Your table decor will look seamless along the longer table
  • Makes for really beautiful photos of the tables

Cons for this style seating:

  • If one person ends up being a no show or last minute cancellation it can throw off your entire seating chart
  • Tend to look better in larger spaces like lofts & outdoors
  • You would probably have to choose a plated dinner – if one table went up to the buffet stations that would result in many guests being up at the same time to get food
  • Conversation flow may not be the easiest as you’ll probably be speaking exclusively with the neighbor to your left/right and directly in front of you


Traditional style seating

Pros to this style seating:

  • Most if not all venues offer two variations of round tables
  • If one person is a no show or last minute cancellation it will not throw off the seating arrangement
  • You can always do different sizes of the rounds to accommodate for your guest list
  • Easier to mingle around the room

Cons to this style seating:

  • It’s classic so if your more of a modern couple – this might not be for you
  • You have to be careful what centerpieces are used because you don’t want to block the flow of conversation at the table
  • Round tables take up a larger amount of space and don’t fit as cleanly against the walls


Variation on traditional style seating


Pros to this style seating:

  • Offers a modern look to a ballroom wedding
  • Your guests will have an easy flow to conversation
  • Aerial photos of the reception will look really great

Cons to this style seating

  • Since it’s not the standard table – linens would cost extra
  • If your venue does not offer a square table option again this would be an extra cost
  • Standard square tables are limited to only fitting 8 people per table – so may have to accommodate more tables or get larger square tables

Combination seating plan


Pros to this style seating:

  • Makes your reception space look very unique
  • Gives you many options for arranging and accommodating guests
  • Aerial photographs of the reception will be beautiful

Cons to this style seating:

  • If the layout of the tables is done haphazardly can look cluttered
  • Your linen & floral budget could increase since there are so many variations

In reality, the reception seating for your wedding can be as unique you want it to be. There really is no right or wrong way to set up your tables for your reception, but if your venue is stringent make sure to add that to the list of questions you ask them. With cost, location & guest list all being major factors in the decision as well.


Source information: