All eyes are 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.
Wedding Party Seating Diagrams
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. The bridal party sits in the same order they used in the wedding processional except they face the guests instead of have their backs to them. Guests are able to identify members of the wedding party easily with this style of seating arrangement.
Another popular and traditional way to arrange the bridal party is to have the best man next to the bride and the maid of honor next to the groom, then follow with bridesmaids and groomsmen (boy-girl alternating on each side). This works well for couples who have uneven numbers, want to include ushers (seat ushers at the ends), or if you plan to include spouses.
Trendy Table Seating Arrangements
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 rest of the bridal party below
- Curved or wrap seating, where the couple sits in the middle and table arrangement is a u-shape at the front of the reception
- Spouse seating, which includes the spouse or significant other of the bridal party member seated at the head table with him or her
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. No matter what the table layout is for a wedding reception, the bridal party table is easily identified.
Pastel flowers combined with tulle creates a romantic bridal party table. Consider adding these elements to replicate this dreamy mood:
- Set the head table on a platform that's been edged with tulle.
- Skip a canopy cover and instead hang a large floral swag at the front of the four-sided structure and use a tulle and pastel backdrop.
- A miniature arch is in front of the bride and groom's chairs.
- Twisted tulle hangs down the front of the table to add to the dreamy feel of the design.
Simple Yet Stunning
A few simple, yet stunning, 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:
- Hang larger versions of the same centerpieces as the guest tables behind the couple on the fabric backdrop.
- Use a floral runner across the front of the table to match the bridal bouquets.
- Utilize a metallic fabric in the backdrop and as part of a swag on the front of the table itself to add glamour without fuss.
A rustic country wedding calls for a head table with the same theme. Incorporate it in these ways:
- Use burlap triangles to make a banner.
- Add painted wood block signage.
- Place basic white bouquets in mason jars.
- Have bridesmaids put their bouquets on the ends of the table.
Create an extravagant setting using these decorations at the head table:
- Crystal and floral topiaries on columns flanking the head table that is set upon a platform.
- Tapered candles are displayed in standing candelabras.
- Large bouquets and garland cover the edge of the table top.
- The table is lit from below while the rest of the lighting has been dimmed.
- Fog effects add to the extravagant wedding feel of this head 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Heart of the Reception
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.