When choosing a table plan for your wedding reception, try to think about what is going to work best in the space that you have to work with. Ask your venue for a floor plan of the reception room so you can figure out visually where and in what formation you are going to place your guests. As well as the room layout, the seating format you go for will also depend on the dining option that you choose (buffet or a seated dinner). To make the task a little bit easier, I have outlined below a range of different wedding table plan options with both advantages and inconveniences of each when appropriate.
- U-Shape: The U Shape table plan is ideal for a seated dinner at a small wedding. The U-shape formation can be set up around a dance floor. The wedding party are usually placed facing the open end of the U-shape. The U-Shaped table plan is also great if you are planning on having any performances at your wedding as all present will get a great view.
- Canteen Style: This sociable seating formation is ideal for large groups if you need to pack a maximum number of people into a space. The Canteen Style table plan can work well with both buffets and seated dinners. However, if you are really struggling for space, then a self-service buffet might be a little problematic as it could be a bit of a tight squeeze for guests getting out and back to their seats.
- Banquet Style: The Banquet Style seating arrangement allows guests to circulate freely between tables and works well for both seated dinners and self-service buffets. Banquet Style works best using round tables with a maximum of 8 people per table. Between 6 and 8 is the ideal number. Any more, then it becomes difficult to communicate. Banquet Style is also great for padding out large spaces, and making the room feel full and atmospheric. With Banquet Style, there are 3 different options in terms of the Head Table (where the wedding party are seated): 1. a long rectangle, 2. the Bride and Groom have their very own private head table, 3. the wedding party has a round table the same size as all the others in a prime spot.
- Ambassador Table & Royal Table: The Ambassador Table and Royal Table formations group all guests together on one huge table, oval for Ambassador and Rectangle for Royal. This table seating plan is really only advisable for small, intimate seated dinners or buffets.
- T-Shape: The T-Shape is another good table formation for intimate seated dinners or buffets and is composed of a horizontal Head Table and a vertical table for guests.
- Dinner Dance Style: The Dinner Dance Style is similar to the Banquet Style with the difference that the tables are arranged around the dance floor. As with Banquet Style, 3 different options are possible for the Head Table. A long head table tends to work best however for the Dinner Dance seating formation.
- Hollow Square: Although the Hollow Square table plan is more synonymous with board meetings, this table formation can work as a particularly sociable seating arrangement for a wedding.
- Cabaret Style: Cabaret Style is a great alternative to Banquet Style if you intend on having a live band, a dance performance or any other type of entertainment on a stage. Cabaret Style works best with either hexagonal, octagonal or round tables.
- Chevron Style: The Chevron Style seating arrangement is another great space saver and can be used as an alternative to Canteen Style for both seated dinners and buffets.
If you have decided on one of the table plans above which necessitates a head table (otherwise known as a ‘top table‘), you might be wondering who should be included on this all important table. Traditionally, the top table is composed of the wedding party and is arranged as follows:
However… today, many families (like mine) are fragmented and re-composed following separations and divorces so the above top table plan may not at all work for you. There is therefore no reason whatsoever why you can not organise your top table in any way you please and include brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents and close friends if you wish.