Who sits where The politics of seating the head table…

Who sits at the top table at a wedding
One of the lesser-known battles when it comes to wedding planning is the task of organising seating on the head (or top) wedding table.

It can be a surprisingly political decision because more than one bride has been surprised to learn just how much offence can be caused by including – or including – the wrong people on the all-important head table at your wedding.

Further, some guests may also be offended if they are seated too far back from the top table, seeing this as an indication that they are not considered an important guest, especially, if their view of the top table is somehow obstructed.

Arranging your tables so that everyone is more or less the same distance from you and your new spouse may be tricky but it will certainly reduce arguments and possible resentment.

So, what to do Have a raised head table where you’ll be the centre of attention Or shy away from the spotlight and sit at a regular low table in amongst their guests

Whichever route you take, here are some questions you should ask before making that all-important decision:

Who should sit at the head table

Traditionally, only the bride and groom, the best man and maid of honour, and both sets of parents sit at the top table, but this will vary depending on your reception venue’s table size and layout, your relationship with both sets of parents, your own family situation and the size of your bridal party.

You may also want to include any bridesmaids and ushers if you have space on the top table, but in reality, you could include anyone you are close to at your top table.

If you are having a receiving line, it should be arranged in roughly the same order as the top table and should include the same people.
What order should they sit in

If you stick to the eight key members of the bridal party mentioned above, it would be customary to seat the top table in the following manner: mother of the groom, father of the bride, the maid of honour, the groom, the bride, the best man, the mother of the bride and, finally the, father of the groom.

Many couples, however, choose to rearrange this format so that all the ladies in the bridal party sit on the bride’s side and all the men sit the groom’s side or they allow people to sit in pairs, so the maid of honour would sit with the best man, the bridesmaids with their corresponding groomsmen and each set of parents to sit with their partner rather than separately.

Who sits at the head table at a weddingWhat is a parents’ table

If your top table isn’t very big, or you have a lot of bridesmaids and ushers that you want up there with you, it is common to have a second significant table for both sets of parents and, sometimes step-parents too.

It can be a nice gesture to let your parents host their own tables and let them choose who to have seated there but, usually, their tables would include any grandparents, aunts and uncles, your parents’ close friends and, perhaps, your celebrant if they are attending your reception.

What is a sweetheart table

If your family are arguing over who should sit at the top table, a sweetheart table could be the perfect answer. Just let them all sit at regular tables and keep the top table for you and your new spouse.

It’s not idea because, though you will want a little time alone and to yourselves at your wedding reception, you won’t want to be sitting up there all alone – and away from the action – for the entire party! Or maybe you prefer the seclusion! Either way, it’s your call.

A sweetheart table is a small table for two set where all the guests can see it in the same way as a top table, but where you and your new wife or husband can have plenty of alone time on your big day.

You will spend so much of your wedding day mingling with guests anyway - and catching up with your nearest and dearest, so a sweetheart table may not only save you from the politics of arranging seating at the top table, but also provide you with desperately needed pockets of solitude on a crazy busy day during which alone time is not at all guaranteed.

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