The wedding party is usually seated at a long table with seats down one side. This is called the ‘top table’ or ‘head table’.
Who to put on the top table can be a sensitive issue, especially if the parents of the bride or groom have divorced and remarried. Make sure you resolve any such issues long before the wedding day.
There are many different ways to organize a wedding top table, but traditionally:
- The groom sits to the right of the bride.
- Places alternate male-female
- Partners of the Best man and Chief bridesmaid sit at other tables.
A typical example is shown below, but you should do what feels right for you.
A typical wedding top table (created by PerfectTablePlan)
For a second marriage you may wish to seat children of the first marriage on the top table.
If the parents of the bride or groom have divorced and remarried it probably isn't a good idea to put them and their new partners together on the top table. One solution is to invite some family of the step-parent and put them together on a separate table near the top table.
If you are worried that someone might feel left out because they aren’t on the top table, ask them to “host” one of the other tables. Make it clear who is hosting each table on the seating chart. This will help them to feel involved.
If the parents of the bride and groom are not in the wedding party they should be seated on the table nearest the top table.
It is becoming fashionable in some quarters to have the bride and groom at their own table (for example David and Victoria Beckham). This is also referred to as a “sweetheart table”. This can be useful for bypassing issues about who should be on the top table.
Some couples opt not to have a top table at all, but to have two free seats at each table so they can mingle during the meal. This is a nice idea, but it does mean that two guests at each table will be seated next to empty seats for much of the reception.