• Room Set Up

  • The table layout of a wedding reception can be challenging to plan, but a good layout encourages mingling, conversation, and celebration. By planning the tables carefully, the bride and groom can ensure their wedding reception is a success.

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    Planning the Table Layout of a Wedding Reception

    No matter how long the guest list, the tables at the reception must be planned carefully. The first step is to give the overall room an efficient layout, and then design individual tables for the best effect.

    Room Set Up Layout

    The types of tables used at a wedding reception depend on the number of guests and the shape of the available space. Round tables are accessible, but long rectangular tables can be a better use of space for a large group. Tables should also work well with the shape of the room – long tables are best in a narrow room while round tables are more versatile for uneven room shapes.

    Once couples know how many tables are needed, they can plan the room layout. Factors to consider when planning the wedding reception table layout include:

    • Dancing: Enough space should be left for a dance floor so guests can dance the night away without crowding.
    • Visibility: Keyspaces for reception events need to be clearly visible from all tables. The couple’s grand entrance, first dance, cake cutting, and wedding toasts are popular photo events, and guests will need good visibility to capture these romantic moments.
    • Movement: There should be enough space between tables to allow for smooth traffic flow to restrooms, a buffet area (if necessary), the bar, the dance floor, and for general mingling.
    • Lighting: Tables should be positioned effectively for the available lighting. For an evening event, be aware of how a setting sun may blaze through windows, and be sure there is plenty of light for guests to enjoy dinner.

    Individual Tables

    Once a basic table layout is decided for the entire room, couples can begin planning the wedding reception seating chart and other details for individual tables. Items to consider include:

    room set up
                                           Give each guest enough space.
    • Personal Space: Cramming too many guests at a single table will be awkward and uncomfortable. The number of guests a table can seat depend on the table’s size and the type of meal: guests will need more space for a full, formal dinner than for light snacks.
    • Children: If there will be children at the wedding, they can be grouped together if they are old enough to sit away from their parents. Younger children should always be seated next to at least one parent, grandparent, or guardian.
    • Gender: Many wedding reception layouts alternate male and female guests in individual seating assignments to encourage mingling.
    • Couples: Guests who attend the wedding as a couple should always be seated together. This includes members of the bridal party who attend with their significant other who may not themselves be in the wedding party.
    • Compatibility: Guests should be seated with individuals whom they will be comfortable with. Age, hobbies, interests, careers, and personal relationships should all be taken into account when creating a seating chart.
    • Ease: A large reception may have a complicated layout, and there should be an easy way for guests to find their seats. Place cards are attractive, or a labeled table diagram could be available near the entrance.
    • Decorations: The wedding table decorations should be chosen so they do not interfere with conversation or restrict personal space for each guest.

    The Head Table

    room set up
    Tiers are popular for the head table.

    The head table is one of the most important at the wedding reception. In addition to the bride and groom, other individuals commonly seated at the head table include the couple’s parents and the bridal party, or at least the maid of honor and best man depending on the available space. For the head table to look its best…

    • Keep the table visible. Tiered or elevated designs are popular.
    • Add extra decorations to distinguish the head table from other reception tables. Backdrops, special lighting, and elaborate centerpieces are easy ways to make this table stand out.
    • Keep everyone at the head table facing the guests. Round tables are generally inappropriate for the head table.

    Miscellaneous Tables

    When planning the table layout of a wedding reception, couples often need to include specialty tables in addition to seating. While not all of these tables will be needed at every reception, knowing how to place them effectively will help keep the reception both beautiful and efficient.

    • Cake Table: The cake is the centerpiece of the reception and should be placed in a visible location. At the same time, be sure there is enough space around the cake table for pictures without any danger of the cake getting damaged by a crowd.
    • DJ: The wedding DJ or band may need special table arrangements. It is best to place these tables near the dance floor or room entrance.
    room set up
    Long tables are efficient.
    • Gift Table: Guests may bring gifts to the reception, and a display table can showcase them elegantly. The table should be placed in a discreet location away from the entrance for better security.
    • Guest Book Table: To encourage all guests to sign the guest book, this table should be in a visible location near the entrance. Many couples opt to put the guest book table in a foyer or other prominent location.
    • Wishing Well: Like a gift table, a wishing well should be discreetly placed where it is more secure but still visible.

    Getting Help to Plan Your Layout

    Most reception venues will have sample layouts available to assist couples with planning the table layout of a wedding reception. Sample table diagrams can also be found online at A Wedding Reception.Planning the tables for a wedding reception can be complicated, but good planning will help the reception flow more smoothly and be more enjoyable for everyone.

    Here is a helpful handout on room set up.

    Room set up Setting The Stage


    As always ask questions when we do a walkthrough of your reception hall or venue.

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    If you’re planning a wedding in Southern Indiana or Western Kentucky and want a great wedding DJ, Contact the wedding professionals at Spectrum Sound. And schedule a Free, no hassle consult to get pricing, give us a call at (812) 401-4931.

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