Talking Tables — Sweetheart vs Head: Which is Better for Your Wedding?Tuesday, June 01, 2021
You've asked and we've answered! Welcome to your weekly column 'Planning Your Happily Ever After' with wedding consultant Shikima Hinds. Her focus this week: Head tables
Brides and grooms often get caught up with all the planning details regarding their guests' experience and sometimes forget their own. In a recent article, I focused on seating assignments but want to focus today on the seating for the bride and groom, which includes deciding if you want to be seated at a head table or a sweetheart table.
The newlyweds' seating during the dinner at the wedding reception has two options: A head table set-up or a sweetheart table. So what, exactly, is the difference? A head table is a large table that includes the newly-weds and their bridal party. A sweetheart table, on the other hand, is a much smaller table at which the bride and groom sit by themselves during the reception.
Both options have their pros and cons. The positives for one option may also be the negatives for the other.
How to choose
Choosing which table scenario is best for your wedding will depend on several different factors like the layout of the reception space and the number of people in your bridal party. Let's explore table options to help you choose what seating arrangement is right for your wedding.
Bridal party head table
This head table is a long table that accommodates the entire bridal party. The bride and groom are seated in the middle, with the bridesmaids seated in a row next to the bride and the groomsmen seated in a row next to the groom. The bride (and her bridesmaids) will be seated on the left and the groom (and his groomsmen) on the right, just like at the ceremony.
This option is best for couples who want to be with their bridal party during the reception. Your head table can be similar to the other reception tables, or it can be elevated and decorated to be a focal point. The bride is seated to the groom's right.
• Allows you to mingle with your bridal party throughout the dinner.
• The maid of honour and best man are in close proximity to the bride and groom for giving scheduled toasts.
• When set up right, the head table can be visually appealing as the centre focus of the reception décor.
• Conversation is difficult since everyone is facing one direction. Individuals at the head table can only comfortably talk to the people sitting to their immediate right or left.
• The spouses and plus-ones of your bridal party will have to sit at separate tables.
• If the number of people seated at the head table exceeds 10 or 12, it can look cluttered and may drown out the bride and groom.
What is a sweetheart table?
A sweetheart table is a small table set up for just the bride and groom at their wedding reception. The couple will sit together facing their guests. The bridal party and families will be seated close to them amongst the other guests.
• Allows the couple to have some intimate time together at dinner as a couple and take everything in.
• If decorated right, sweetheart tables can look extremely sweet and romantic.
• If most of your bridal party members are married or came with someone special, they may enjoy sitting with them during the reception.
• The couple may feel like they are on “display” without others surrounding them at the table.
• Creates the feeling of being isolated from the wedding guests and dinner conversations.
Family head table
Believe it or not, there are couples who would rather dine with their families. This completely eliminates the wedding party seating and sweetheart table. This table is often in the centre of the wedding reception.
The bride is seated next to her parents, the groom's parents next to the groom, the siblings in the remaining seats. I have observed this seating at more formal and larger destination weddings.
Keep in mind that no matter what type of seating style you select, it's important to remember that you will only be seated for the duration of dinner and toasts. Once dinner and toasts have been completed, you'll be dancing your shoes off! Just remember there's no right or wrong selection when it comes to determining your table style.
A special note: Place your head table in an optimal location within the reception space. If the guest tables will be arranged around the dance floor, the head table should be directly opposite the DJ or band, with the newlyweds seated facing into the room.