Getting the tables right at your wedding can be the difference between having a successful day and having an absolutely triumphant one. The tables are where your guests will spend the majority of the evening, eating, chatting and listening to speeches, and therefore the arrangement of your tables will set the tone of the entire event.
If your table plan works, friends and family members who may never have met before will be boogying like best buds by the time the floor is cleared for dancing.
Many people opt for circular tables because they encourage intermingling and inclusivity, and because there is ample room in the centre of each table for decorations, drinks and glasses. However, circular tables are less space efficient and it is very difficult to fit many of them in a small area.
For this reason rectangular tables are a popular choice for those whose venues are more compact or for those who are looking to create balance and harmony through symmetry.
But what layout and decorations work best to create the atmosphere you desire? Read on for all you need to know about rectangular wedding tables and how to arrange them.
Let’s start by thinking about what size tables will best suit your wedding. The length, and width of the rectangle will impact how many guests can sit at each table and how far apart they are from each other.
You can create intimate smaller tables that encourage a sense of camaraderie amongst those seated at them, or go for long tables that create great drama and togetherness. Ultimately the size of your tables will depend on personal taste and, of course, the size of your venue.
Wide tables are great because they have lots of surface area that can be used to place side dishes, glasses, drinks and handbags. However, too wide a table can create a chasm between guests.
You want to aim for a width which allows people to chat to those sitting opposite them but also has enough space for decorations and drinks. A width of 4’ is a good place to start.
The length of your table will dictate how many tables you need. Some weddings have just a few very long ‘banquet-style’ tables which can be great fun and visually impactful. They work really well at outdoor weddings because you can use benches rather than individual chairs to create a more informal and earthy vibe.
Opting for multiple shorter tables is often better for mingling however, as no one is left stranded at the far end of a very long hall. Smaller tables could seat 6, 8, 10 or 12 guests each, depending on the size of your guestlist.
Using The Far Ends
Sitting guests on the far ends of rectangular tables is one way of maximizing seating space without having to pay for extra tables. It also helps to create a more intimate and unified feeling among the guests.
However, those seated on the ends can feel exposed and it can also be difficult for them to watch the speeches without having to twist very far around in their seats.
The layout of your rectangular tables will have a huge impact on how well guests can chat and mingle, and also on the catering staff’s ability to serve successfully. It can be a delicate balancing act between creating intimacy and space.
As a general rule, make sure that every chair can be pushed out fully from beneath the table at the same time without touching backs. This will demonstrate that your guests have enough room to leave and return to their seats comfortably.
By the same token, there should be a big enough gap between each seat for a waiter to stand side-on. This will ensure that hot plates can be placed and picked up efficiently (so no one gets soup spilt on their lovely outfit!).
Rows rectangular tables can be one of the most impactful layouts at any wedding. If you are all about those Hogwarts vibes then arranging three or four long parallel rows with a horizontal top table can be a lot of fun.
This layout looks incredible on first stepping into a venue and also helps to make any room appear bigger than it is. It can cause some problems for waiting staff if the rows are too close to each other so bear this in mind when deciding how many to fit in one space.
And don’t forget – diagonal rows are also fantastic and can help to optimize the space available whilst also looking like a cool design choice.
From Hogwarts vibes to Henry VIII, a traditional horseshoe layout was what was used at banquets and feasts in the good old days and it works very well nowadays too.
The horseshoe is a fantastic way of creating a central area that is already cleared for dancing so tables and chairs don’t need to be stacked away. This layout is grand and creates a lot of drama whilst also feeling inclusive as the whole table arrangement is connected.
A classic cross layout allows staff and guests easy access to their seats due to the amount of space between prongs. Turning the cross on a diagonal is a great way to soften the layout and make it feel more organic and less rigid. The bride, groom and wedding party will be wonderfully visible and accessible to all if seated at a rectangular top table.
A square layout is one way to bring all your guests together and make everyone feel as though they are sitting around one huge table. The ‘top table’ is actually part of the overall arrangement in this design and so it works really well for more intimate gatherings.
Of course, the closed nature of the square means that only the outer side of each table can be used, which minimizes seating numbers. However, for weddings of 40 or less this layout is brilliant.
Small and medium sized scattered tables can work really beautifully in large venues, you just need to be clever about the angles that they are tilted at.
Tables that are arranged at different angles create an informal and fun vibe, whereas tables that are uniformly angled will appear more refined and purposeful. Both options are great for getting small groups of guests to bond and chat.
Table Decorations And Centerpieces
How you decorate your rectangular tables will entirely depend on the style of wedding and your personal preference, however there are some key things to bear in mind.
Firstly, although big floral arrangements look fantastic, they can create a wall or barrier between guests, especially if you are using rectangular tables. Keep the centrepieces below eye level to make sure no one feels blocked off.
Secondly, at rectangular tables guests mainly have access to those sitting immediately beside them which can be nerve racking if they aren’t acquainted.
A great idea is to pop little questions or riddles by each place mat to spark conversation and help your guest to break the ice when you are far off at the top table.
Your wedding day is going to be magical no matter what way your tables are arranged, but putting a little careful consideration into your perfect layout will elevate the event to another level and ensure that you and all your guests have the time of your lives.