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When you’re planning your wedding, one of the most important things to consider is who will be sitting at the top table. This is the table that is reserved for the bride and groom, their parents, and the wedding party. It can be a pretty daunting task trying to figure out who sits where!

In this article, we will break down who usually sits at the top table and who doesn’t. We’ll also give you some wedding top table ideas & tips on how to create a wedding table plan that everyone will love!

1) Stick to the old fashioned table seating plan:

According to tradition, if you want your wedding table plan to run smoothly, there should be eight chairs. The people who would sit in them are the bride and groom, their parents, the maid of honour and best man…

The maid of honour is traditionally seated to the left of the groom’s father, with the bride’s mother to his right. The groom is then seated between his bride and her father, with the groom’s mother on his right and the best man next to her.

However, families (and, by extension, same-sex couples and wedding parties) do not always adhere to these rigid cookie-cutter structures, so if this arrangement doesn’t work for you, don’t be alarmed. It’s not required; there are several other options for placing everyone in elegant positions – keep in mind that there is no such thing as a good or wrong choice.

2) Keep It in the Bloodline

If you want to keep things traditional at your wedding breakfast but aren’t sure about the maid of honour/best man combo, you can always mix it up a bit and have the wedding party sit on either side of the parents instead. This way, you can place the bridesmaids next to the bride’s mother and the groomsmen by the groom’s father.

This is a great way to keep everyone happy – the wedding party gets to sit with their significant other, and the parents get to be next to their child on what is sure to be a special day.

Newlyweds often feel immense pressure to seat certain relatives at their wedding reception, but you can avoid this by making your top table reservation for immediate family only. If you come from a large family, this will give priority to closer relatives, and depending on the size of your table, may also allow you to include siblings.

3) Let the Good Times Roll

On the one hand, you may find it more simple to forgo family altogether and invite the wedding party to the top table instead. The parents at many conventional weddings enjoy ‘hosting’ a table, so they may well be delighted to sit among their friends and other relatives. That frees up your best table for all of your closest pals…

Not exactly traditional but definitely fun, this set-up is ideal for more unconventional weddings. If you want your wedding to be a true reflection of your personality, then go ahead and let the good times roll!

Have non-stop fun with this line-up, but before deciding for sure, consider one key factor. The people coming might bring dates who don’t know anyone else, so you’ll need to plan where to seat them and make sure they’re comfortable too.

4) Speech Givers Only

Okay, so when it comes to wedding speeches, the most important thing is to be able to hear them, but it’s also nice if your guests can see the speaker.

Putting people who are giving the speeches at the top table, particularly if your layout implies a degree of distance from the rest of the rows, ensures that everyone will have a fantastic view, even from behind. One completely separate table for speech givers is also another option!

If you want to give your wedding speeches extra gravitas, this is the way to do it. Just be aware that if you put all of the speech-givers at the top table, you may need a bigger one than eight chairs can provide!

The bride’s father, the groom, and the best man (in that order) traditionally give speeches. If you follow a conventional style, they’ll already be up there; however, more and more bridesmaids, maids of honour and mothers of the bride and groom among other things are rising to the stage as well, so modify this plan to fit your demands.

This concept is perfect for a laid-back, casual event where you know people will mingle throughout the meal regardless but will want to focus when someone has the microphone.

5) Together we're Unstoppable

The idea of a “sweetheart table” is a simple yet effective one: it converts your top table into two seats, eliminating any unpleasant arguments about who should be included. This is, without a doubt, a polarizing issue — some people find it to be rather exposed and isolated, while others think it’s wonderful to actually spend some time alone with their new spouse on the greatest day of their lives.

Sweetheart tables don’t have to imply you’re separated from the rest of the celebration—you may always get up and greet your visitors at regular intervals, and people can always come to you. Plus, if you’ve spent money on beautiful wedding guest chairs for the wedding breakfast, this is the ideal way to flaunt them.

6) Go big or go home

Do you find it difficult to cut down your nearest and dearest? Take a complete 180 and make your top table considerably larger than usual. We like long tables because they allow for more people to be seen than round tables, and the room’s dimensions are the only real restrictions (or marquee, or garden, or other setting, as the case may be).

This is a great way to make sure that everyone feels like they’re involved, and it may also eliminate the need for a sweetheart table if you really want to avoid that kind of thing. Just bear in mind that too many cooks may spoil the broth, so try not to overcrowd your wedding party — otherwise, things could get very messy.

7) Head of the Table

If your venue is a barn… wink, wink, nudge, nudge…, It’s possible that longer tables might be more appealing. How about sitting them next to each other at the head of the table? That way, all your guests can see you during the meal.

This set-up is perfect if you’re planning on having a lot of children at your wedding as they can be seated further down the table where they won’t be disruptive. Just make sure that there’s enough space for everyone to move around — you don’t want anyone feeling claustrophobic.

Sitting at the head of the table also has the added bonus of making you feel like a VIP, which is always nice. Just be aware that if you have a lot of guests, this option might not be practical.

8) All of this can be taken care of by calling it off

We don’t mean the wedding… but the concept of having a top table! If none of the above table plans appeals to you, consider this: do you truly require a top table?

If you’re planning on having a more informal wedding, it may be easier to ditch the idea of a wedding party altogether. This way, you won’t have to worry about who sits where — everyone can spread across other tables!

Of course, this might not be ideal if you’re hoping to make a grand entrance with your wedding party, but it’s definitely something to consider.

At the end of the day, it’s your wedding and you can do whatever you want — so don’t feel like you have to stick to tradition if it doesn’t suit you. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to your wedding seating plan, so go with whatever feels right for you!

We hope this article helps answer your questions about the Top Table at a wedding and helps with your own plans!

And don’t forget, if you’re looking for the perfect barn wedding venue with stunning onsite accommodation, then look no further than Bredenbury Court Barns!

We have everything you need to make your barn wedding dreams a reality.

Table seating plan FAQS:

Do I need a table seating plan for my wedding?

It’s entirely up to you! If you’re having a more informal wedding, you might not need one. But if you’re hoping to make a grand entrance with your wedding party, it might be a good idea to have one. It would also be a good idea to discuss table shapes. Are you having large oval tables or long rectangular ones? Planning for these decisions will make your life a lot easier in the build up to your big day!

Who usually sits at the top table?

The traditional top table layout is the wedding party, including the bride and groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen, maid of honour and best man.

Who doesn't sit at the top table?

This is a polarising issue — some people find it to be rather exposed and isolated, while others think it’s the best seat in the house! If you’re not sure, consider having a sweetheart table instead.

What is a sweetheart table?

A sweetheart table is a small table for two, usually reserved for the bride and groom. This way, they can have their own table and no one falls out with the wedding party!

Do wedding tables have to be long tables?

No! Large round or oval tables are becoming increasingly popular! A large round or oval table is great as it gives every a better look at the bride and groom!

BCB: Wedding Table Guide by Bredenbury Court Barns

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