All eyes are often on the wedding party table during the reception. Couples choose members of the bridal party because of their special relationship with each person, and this is reflected at the reception by their place of honor with the couple at the head of the reception.
Head Table Seating Arrangements
The wedding party table, sometimes called the bridal party table or head table, is usually located front and center at the reception at a long rectangular table. This is where the bride, groom, and all of their attendants sit during the meal. Some couples may also invite their parents to sit at the head table.
Typically, the couple is seated in the center of the table. Seated next to the bride is the maid or matron of honor, followed by the bridesmaids. Next to the groom is the best man, groomsmen, and possibly the ushers. Usually, the bridal party sits in the same order they used in the wedding processional. Guests are able to easily identify members of the wedding party with this style of seating arrangement.
Just because the wedding party traditionally sits in this fashion does not mean they always need to be arranged in this manner. Trends today for the bridal party table seating include:
- Tiered arrangements, with the couple and honor attendants on the top tier with the bridal party below
- Spouse seating, which includes the spouse or significant other of the bridal party member seated at the head table with him or her
- Curved or wrap seating, where the couple sits in the middle and table arrangement is a u-shape at the front of the reception
Wedding Party Table Decorations
Head table decorations are often similar to the other table decorations at the wedding reception. However, there are usually a few differences that indicate which table is for the wedding party. These distinctions may be subtle or quite extravagant.
A few simple additions can distinguish the head table from the rest of tables at the reception. Try one of these ideas to make the bridal party table special:
- Larger versions of the same centerpieces as the guest tables
- Bride and bridesmaid bouquets in holders clipped to the table
- Petals scattered down the length of the table
- Simple leaf garland running along the front of the table
Create an extravagant setting using these decorations at the head table:
- Crystal topiaries as centerpieces
- Tapered candles instead of tea light candles
- Garlands intertwined with light strands in a swag across the front of the table
- Table runners or layered table clothes with metallic accents
Usually, lavish accents are not needed for guests to understand which table is the head table. The layout of the tables at a wedding reception is usually done so that the table is obvious. However, couples often add extravagant decorations because the photographer usually catches some traditional moments while the couple or bridal party is behind the table.
Customs at the Bridal Party Table
While the seating arrangement and table decorations may be different at every wedding, a few customs stay the same. Normally, the bride and groom are served their meal first, followed by the rest of the head table at the reception. Guests are then served their meals.
Typically, the best man and maid of honor toast the couple while standing at the head table once everyone at the wedding has been served dinner and is seated. Any kissing traditions, such as after guests ring bells or tap their forks on glasses, is also done standing behind the head table.
Finally, the bride and groom often invite guests to join them at a wedding reception dance or after-party using a microphone at the head table.
The wedding party table is at the heart of the reception. This is the spot where all eyes will focus, so be sure to seat everyone in a pleasing manner, have plenty of decorations, and plan for lots of photogenic moments.