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Creative Wedding Seating Arrangements

2016 Wedding Trends: Creative Seating Arrangements

February 15, 2016 by The Marquardt Ranch

This is the year to think inside the box, rather than outside it.

Couples, venues, and caterers are embracing creative new ideas for reception seating arrangements that are square in the most chic way. No longer limited to large round tables that seat 8-10 guests and inevitably single out your single friends, weddings are now trending toward seating that is intimate, stylized, and lends itself to gorgeous photos (and its own montage in your highlights reel).

Family style receptions get their own coverage in next week’s post, because this trend is hot among couples wanting their big day to seem like a warm, friendly, family gathering. Often characterized by long tables end-to-end, family style seating lends itself to seamless décor and dramatic photos. Especially when aerial pictures are taken from the loft of your rustic barn venue or when tables are set under twinkling lights in the great outdoors—both places where this unconventional seating style works and looks best.

But if presiding over 100 guests in two straight lines isn’t really your style, consider breaking the tables up into smaller gatherings of 6-8. Done with rectangular tables, you will still get a different vibe than from traditional round.

However, if round is your wish (and what’s best for your venue or budget), you can always ask about using smaller tables that seat 4-6. You might mix small tables with large ones, or opt for some high cocktail tables for variance. Another idea is to plan for round tables that seat 6-8 and a few square tables that seat 4-6. This vignette style makes your reception feel more modern and allows you to choose linens and centerpieces that compliment each arrangement.

Don’t forget your head table when planning your seating. Consider moving the table for you and your wedding party to the center of the room in a cross formation if using rectangular tables. Then you can surround it with your vignettes of round, square, or rectangular tables. The popular U-shape formation for the head table works well with family style seating also, or you could simply seat your wedding party at the ends of the tables closest to you and then fill in with your guests. If using long tables, a small round table for you as the honored couple will give you a chance to chat with each other and set you apart.

Finally, you could consider ditching tables all together. Some wedding styles, especially Boho Chic and cocktail receptions, are arranging lounge areas with comfortable furniture pieces such as pillows, ottomans, and vintage couches. This relaxed style works well for receptions that are light on food and full on leisure.  

Whichever style suits you best, keep these questions in mind when talking with your venue:

  • Do you provide tables on-site? What are the sizes/shapes?
  • How many chairs do you provide? Are the same chairs used for ceremony and reception? Be sure to see one and determine if you want coverings.
  • Do you provide linens? Specify sizes.
  • Do you rent tables, and can we choose a variety of sizes/shapes?
  • Can a third-party rental company supply my tables and chairs?
  • Can I use options other than chairs (stools, benches, high back chairs, etc.)?
  • Can I see pictures of previous events?
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