Many couples agonize and struggle with wedding table designs – the flowers, place settings, candles, etc. – but often they ignore the very first step. In order to help craft the vision you want, you first need to decide on the tables themselves. I know it is not necessarily the dreamiest or most romantic topic, but table selection and layout really need to be thought out and in place before you move on to the fun, florally planning pieces.
In this article, we will lay out some options that will hopefully simplify the process and make this planning step a breeze.
The first step in planning your wedding celebration will be to decide on the shape of the tables you would like to have. Wedding tables, for the most part, can be either rectangular or round. It is important to consider the space you have reserved for your reception as well as your alternate “plan B”. Often times, it is this space that will dictate the table selection and arrangement, but not always.
Round tables have always brought an air of elegance and sophistication, no matter the situation. Because everyone is facing the each other, the centerpieces, flowers and place settings take center stage. They can be perfect table if you have many different groups of family and friends and tend to be the top choice of brides in the US and Canada.
On the other hand, rectangular tables are very popular here in Italy and especially Tuscany. Guests are seated next to one another and facing those exactly opposite. This family-style set up is great for family and friends that may not know each other well before the celebration. It really forces everyone to open up, relax, engage and make friends. In addition, rectangular tables offer clean lines and linear spacing, they make planning a breeze, especially for those of us “type A” personalities that need a bit more structure in our lives.
Round tables are an excellent choice for larger weddings. They generally provide a more formal feel to the space and are much more space efficient than rectangles. In addition, they can help create more of an organic flow through the space and ensure that no ones feels “stuck in the corner”. Since all parties are facing the center of the table, design and decoration are then centrally focused for each person. This can be both a blessing and a curse, as each table must be properly balanced, offering height and dimension while still allowing easy conversation across the table.
As mentioned, rectangular tables are very popular here in Tuscany. They facilitate more of a family-style dining experience, common here in Italy. A long and narrow table can be easier to design and decorate, with the centerpieces tending to be longer, more linear and generally more awe-inspiring.
It is important to keep in mind that the space you have reserved will often dictate just how linear or arbitrary table placement can be. In the meantime, though… Here is a quick exercise to help you determine the best table layout for your celebration.
Do you consider yourself more of a “Type A” or “Type B” personality? More of a “linear” or “abstract” thinker? It might sound silly, but it is a legitimate question. Many “Type A” couples prefer the straight lines of the rectangle tables. The satisfaction of seeing one or two long, linear tables can be quite soothing to the eye. For those that choose to live slightly more on the wild side (but not much) another option is to break the tables up so that you have several separate and distinct rectangular tables. It can help create a bit of breathing room and ease movement throughout the space, while still keeping it within your linear design.
On the other hand, round tables have a definite appeal for the more abstract thinker. There can still be a little bit of a “Type A” influence, as tables can be set in straight lines. Conversely, you can throw caution to the wind and embrace your wild side and scatter the tables in a random, non-linear format.
Again, in all honesty, often times when you are planning an outdoor wedding reception in a garden, grove or vineyard, the topography of the ground will dictate how the tables and chairs can be set up. This will be the true test… you have to be able to let go of the reins and rely on the expertise of your wedding planner, florist and caterer to come up with the best solution for the space. Trust me… we have tons of experience and your finite vision in mind.
Not to overwhelm you, but there is a third option – you might call it a shade of grey. For the true artists, the rebels out there, you can use BOTH round and rectangular tables in your layout to really add a dramatic effect. It sounds crazy, I know…but it works!
And now comes the ever-important question: where will you and your new spouse sit? Luckily, you have a couple of options!
Many couples want to mix and mingle with their guests and choose to be seated either in the middle of a long, rectangular table or with their wedding party at a table centrally located in the well-thought out layout. This can make it easy for guests to stop by, but also to be able to easily mix and mingle among the tables and never be far from their place setting.
Others like to keep it a bit more formal. In recent years, the “imperial” or “king’s table” has become very popular. This is usually a long rectangular table where the entire bridal party is seated on one side of the table, facing all of the guests. It can be used to cap two long country tables, creating a horseshoe (or “U-shape”, as the Italians call it), or it can simply be a separate table, facing in the center of the dinner celebration.
Still, some couples may prefer a little alone time and have what is called a “sweetheart table”. This is simply a table for just the bride and groom, facing their guests but usually at a separate table. It is perfect for the couple that is ready for a little bit of quite time – those that might not be comfortable being the center of attention for the entire day. It allows quite conversation, stollen kisses and a bit of downtime before the real party gets started.
In closing, this might not be the sexiest article you will ever read, but I promise you, it is a very important topic that is all-too-often overlooked. It is quite easy to get lost in all the Pinterest boards featuring dreamy candles and breathtaking flowers and skip over the oh-so-important first step of deciding exactly what kind of tables will be best for your reception. But without first deciding on what kinds of tables you want to have at your celebration, you really cannot easily move with planning.
If you are having trouble with your vision or design, let Unique Events in Tuscany help you through the process. We work with professional, carefully vetted vendors that can help make your wedding dreams a reality. Please do not hesitate to contact us to set up a call today.