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Are Head Tables Dead at Modern Weddings?

By NYIAD Staff on May 06, 2014

Here is a newlywed couple sitting in a typical head table configuration. To the left of the bride is the maid of honor. To the right of the groom is the best man. And they’re flanked by the rest of the bridal party.

If you’re the wedding planner or you run an event planning business, we encourage you to think outside the box. That means sometimes throwing the rulebook out the window. Never encourage your clients to make a decision based on the flimsy “this is the way it’s always been done” mantra.

Today’s bride and groom—or groom and groom or bride and bride—are more independent thinking than clients of yesteryear. Give them latitude in planning even small details, like where they sit at the reception venue.

  • Would the newlyweds like to sit alone at a small table near the front of the venue? This is a romantic option, and it will give them a chance to share food and small talk, hold hands, and maintain a sense of privacy. People can go up to the front and stand beside their table to give speeches and toasts.
  • A head table doesn’t have to include the bridal party. It could include parents only. It could include grandparents only—it’s a shame how the older generation sometimes takes a backseat at wedding festivities.
  • Why not seat the bride and groom at one huge head table? Depending on your reception venue and the size of the guest list, you could connect rectangular tables to create a U-shape that surrounds the dance floor and opens up to the stage where toasts and speeches are made and the band or DJ plays music. The happy couple sits in the center of the U, directly facing the dance floor and the stage, and everyone can see them perfectly. This gives a smaller reception a more intimate feeling for the newlyweds.

Looking for wedding planning schools or event planning courses? New York Institute of Art and Design offers The Complete Course in Wedding Planning.