After a wedding ceremony, guests gather at the reception to eat, drink, dance, and celebrate the newlyweds. Typically, the freshly-married couple will be seated at a head table with friends or family. During dinner, toasts, and other reception activities, wedding guests spend a lot of time looking at the head table.
Whether you have booked a large banquet hall to house hundreds of guests or are hosting a beautiful backyard wedding, the head table at any wedding should look incredible. Being so, we put together this list of wedding head table ideas and designs to help make your special seating arrangement stand out.
In this post, we cover a variety of wedding head table ideas, design tips, layout options, and more. To help inspire the special seating on your big day, we’ve compiled a list covering everything from setup and style to décor and designs.
Explore unique wedding head table ideas that are sure to wow your guests
Before you start designing the layout and choosing décor for your wedding head table, have a conversation with your partner. Discuss how you would like to spend your wedding reception and go from there. Some couples want to celebrate surrounded by the wedding party while others prefer a bit more privacy.
Choose a wedding head table style that works for you
There are a variety of different wedding venue types, and a fair portion of wedding planning revolves around the size and setup of the space you have. There are three main wedding head table setups to choose from:
The traditional head table. A standard wedding head table accommodates the newlyweds and the bridal party. You are free to choose which side each of the parties will be assigned to. With this setup style, most wedding seating charts place both sets of the couple’s parents together at the same reception table. They are usually seated with the couple’s siblings (any not included in the wedding party), the officiant, grandparents, honored guests, or other members of the wedding party not at the head table. While a head table showcases members of the wedding party and gives them some time in the spotlight, it could leave their dates feeling left out, especially if they don’t know anyone else at the wedding.
King’s table. If you’ve never heard of a king’s table at a wedding, it may surprise you to find that thrones, crowns, and coronations are not included. In fact, the primary difference between a traditional wedding head table and a “king’s table” is the size of the seating chart. A king’s table exemplifies wedding plus-one etiquette; not only does the table include all members of the wedding party, but it also accommodates their dates. Choosing a king’s table gives engaged couples a lot of room to shake things up. If you’d like to swap out some members of your wedding party or include family members at the head table instead, then a king’s table may be the most preferable option for your wedding’s principal table.
Sweetheart table. The most intimate seating option, a sweetheart table sits only the newly married couple. Sweetheart tables, while still decorated and divine, are only designed for two. Newlyweds are able to take a break and catch their breath, all while soaking in the splendor of the reception in a private, peaceful moment together. Many couples who choose this wedding seating style go all out with showstopping sweetheart table design ideas.
Modern wedding planning comes with a lot of freedom, and couples face far less pressure to plan a traditional wedding. Whether you’re choosing a more traditional seating style or prefer to do something totally out of the ordinary, there are numerous ways you can personalize your wedding head table and make it stand out.
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Tips for planning your wedding head table setup
Don’t get ahead of yourself by dreaming up intricate designs for your wedding head table or choosing decorations before nailing down the basics. Start by sketching out a simple outline of your wedding head table and fill the rest in later.
Choose your setup. Are you keeping it small — just the married partners — or will parents and members of the wedding party be included? Choose the head table style that fits your dream wedding scenario.
Confirm the number of guests at the table. Will wedding party members be sitting with their dates? This can dramatically affect the size of your wedding head table, as well setup needs.
Select a seating style. Do you have space to accommodate a head table that seats all wedding party members on one side? Will you need to use wider tables to accommodate guests all around the table? If your wedding party is quite large, you will need ample event space to accommodate the head table. Choosing to place the entire wedding party and their dates at the head table could require seating for a dozen people or more. As opposed to one long table, a large round table or u-shape setup may be a better seating style for a populated head table. Discuss layout options with your wedding venue to confirm which head table options will best fit the space.
Determine your wedding head table size. The number of people seated at your head table will inform the size of the table you will need, as well as which seating styles can comfortably fit in your event space. For example, three 8’ tables placed end-to-end will create a 24’ wedding head table that is 2.5’ wide. This setup will comfortably fit 12 attendees at a straight head table with guests seated on one side. To create a u-shape with additional seating, add another table to each end of a straight head table, but turn them inward to face each other. A u-shape table consisting of one 8’ table in the center, with two 6’ tables end-to-end on either side, and two 6’ tables facing each other on either end creates a 20’ x 2.5’ head table that seats 16.
Plan the reception layout. Where will your wedding head table be located in the reception space? Is there enough space for you to be in front of guests but not right on top of them? Is there staging or raised floor space in the reception room? Could the head table be set up there to allow for more floor space? Is your reception inside or outdoors? Add these questions to your wedding venue checklist and weigh your options. If your reception is taking place outdoors, for example, your wedding head table will need protection from the elements. Additionally, smaller wedding venues may not have the space to house your preferred head table style. Work with what you have, not against it.
Wedding head table ideas for design
Once you know what kind of layout you’ll be working with, you can start to create the wedding head table of your dreams. Dream up an awe-inspiring head table by adding eye-popping design elements.
1. Elegant drapery. To add an air of elegance to your wedding head table, pin gathered material around the head table to early create sophisticated drapery. Drape tulle around the head table by pinning the fabric every three feet, or by gathering satin drapery in-between place settings. For whimsical weddings, sheer drapery creates airy and effortless drapes.
2. Clean and modern. Forgo adding drapery or even a tablecloth to create a clean, modern look for your wedding head table. Instead of creating shape or adding abundant décor to the table itself, focus more on the tabletop; add small, simple accents that make the table pop.
3. Silhouetted. Create a beauteous boundary that surrounds the head table to help it stand out. Use weighted balloons, an arch, hanging plants, or other creative borders.
4. Mix and match. You can certainly choose uniform seating for your head table, and many couples do. If you want to mix things up, however, consider mixing and matching the chairs at your wedding head table. Play with styles, sizes, materials, or even chair colors.
5. Atypical tables. Showcase a one-of-a-kind table as the main head table attraction. Instead of designing a heavily-decorated table, select a magnificent live-edge wood table or an antique with intricate carvings on the legs. Let the furniture shine.
6. Off-side seating. Consider putting the newlyweds on one side of the head table with friends and family surrounding them. The newlyweds will be together but still have their loved ones close.
7. Unique or dramatic chairs. Include uniform chairs for the wedding party, but sit the newlyweds in something spectacular instead! Newlyweds can enjoy the luxurious comfort of an oversized plush loveseat or cushioned bench together. We love this option for themed weddings as well. Imagine a pair of newlyweds lording over their guests on a towering throne of plastic swords at a Game of Thrones-themed wedding!
Wedding head table chair decoration ideas
Decorating the chairs is an easy, affordable way to take your wedding head table design to the next level.
8. Woven sashes. Simply weave fabric through chair backs to add a fairytale feel to your wedding head table. While you can use a variety of different materials to weave chair sashes, such as lace, burlap, satin, or polyester, chiffon is the easiest material to work with.
9. Hanging name tags. Skip predictable place cards and opt for a hanging name tag instead. Create custom hanging signs for each guest seated at your wedding head table. Use colorful paints, rhinestones, or sequins to personalize each name tag, or create custom wooden signs for a rustic wedding. The name tags can be hung on the back of each chair to help guests find their seats, and they make great take-home gifts for wedding party members.
10. Floral arrangements. Small floral arrangements can help make run-of-the-mill chairs feel a little more formal. Pin small, unobstructed flower arrangements to head table chairbacks to help set them apart from others at the reception.
11. Add attire. Instead of decorating your chair backs, consider draping custom jackets on the back of each as a “thank you” to your wedding party members. Add titles, names, or other quirky accents to the jackets that signify the special day. Matching jackets will make for great pictures, and your head table guests can wear them if the reception gets chilly!
12. Backup blankets. Are you having a winter wedding? Drape wedding head table chairs with decorative, plush blankets to keep guests warm.
Wedding head table ideas for the backdrop
Add a backdrop to your head table design to create a striking background.
13. Origami ornaments. Hang paper ornaments of any design to create a unique head table backdrop that fits your style. Assorted vibrant paper flowers, dainty hanging paper cranes, and even paper airplanes make great hanging backdrops.
14. Standing floral backdrop. Create or order a standing floral backdrop for a bouquet-style head table background. To save money on your wedding flowers, build your own using artificial flowers and a standing screen.
15. Overhead greenery. Hang a large wooden planter box or multiple small flower boxes for an ethereal head table backdrop. Add lush floral garland, winding ivy, or large leafy ferns to create an abundant, yet natural, background. Pair lush overhead greenery with a clean, minimalist wedding head table design. Add gold accents to tie it all together!
16. Delicate drapes. Consider draping delicate fabrics to create a clean, cosmopolitan head table backdrop. When partnered with a draped table, this design creates an irrefutable sense of luxury.
17. Overhead arch. Decorate a wooden arch with garland, flowers, lace, satin drapery, or a variety of other decorations that match your wedding style to create a simple, yet stunning, backdrop. Most wedding altar ideas and decorations can be repurposed to suit a head table backdrop.
18. Funky statement backdrop. Select a wedding head table backdrop that has cool shapes, a funky pattern, or unique colors — really have fun with it! Add neon lights or attach tube lighting that flashes the initials of the newlyweds.
19. Venue view. Does your wedding venue also boast an incredible view? If so, you can let the natural beauty of your surroundings become the backdrop for the head table at your wedding. Set the head table up in front of large bay windows or glass doors to show off the venue’s setting.
Wedding head table lighting ideas
When planning a wedding or designing the reception, not many of us factor lighting into the equation. Lighting, however, plays a big role in the overall design and decoration of an event space. Experiment with different lighting styles and how they change the aesthetic of your wedding head table ideas.
20. Hanging chandeliers. Does your wedding venue boast decorative chandeliers over an ideal head table location? If so, take advantage. Ask your wedding venue about hanging restrictions, set up policies, and if there are different lighting installation options. Purely decorative chandeliers can easily be hung before and removed after the event, as long as the venue allows it.
21. Mixed lighting. Including multiple lighting styles can help add dimension and ambiance to a wedding head table. Place small candles on the table with hanging lights overhead for a soft glow. Set high tapered candles on the table to pair with soft running lights on the floor and dim ceiling lighting overhead.
22. Hanging tea lights. Place LED tea lights in lightweight transparent containers, like a clear ornament or plastic terrarium. Add greenery, decorative beads, and other small accents too, or keep the design simple adding only the tea light. Suspend the glowing orbs over the head table for a cool, celestial style.
23. Dramatic lighting. Add dramatic head table lighting by hanging a neon sign with your name overhead. Order oversized illuminated initials for the centerpiece or shine a spotlight on the head table to direct guest attention to the happy couple.
Wedding head table ideas for decor
Decorate your wedding head table to fit your style; choose what is comfortable for you. While some couples embrace embellishments and over-the-top style, others like to keep it simple.
24. Lace table runners. We love lace table runners because of their versatility. With many styles, designs, colors, and patterns to choose from, lace runners work with a variety of wedding styles: rustic, farmhouse, minimalist, formal, and more.
25. White blossoms. Perfect for a wedding in any season, white blooms complement the head table without stealing attention away from the stars of the show. Arrange neutral blooms with lush greenery, tapered candles, and gold accents to create a timeless wedding head table design.
26. Trailing greenery. Wrap ivy or other winding greenery up table legs and across the top for a low-cost, effortless table decoration. Use lush green garland in place of a fabric table runner to take the natural look up a notch.
27. Textured tablecloths. Add some texture to your wedding head table by choosing a unique material for your tablecloth. Play with sequins, lace, burlap, or taffeta.
28. Tall centerpieces. Create an over-the-top centerpiece by placing a voluminous floral arrangement in a towering vase. Experiment with different colors, textures, and styles to create an outstanding and affordable wedding centerpiece. Don’t be afraid to go big with your head table centerpiece. After all, all eyes are supposed to be on you!
29. Wildflower arrangements. Mix and match similarly sized jars and small vases of the same color palette. Create small arrangements with pops of brightly-colored wildflowers throughout. Include daisies, bee balm, poppies, coneflowers, or other wildflowers common to your area. Just remember to check for bugs!
30. Destination-inspired décor. Are you getting married on-location? If you’re planning a destination wedding, consider adding elements of the wedding location into your head table decorations. Hang leis on head table chairs if you’re getting hitched in Hawaii. Add seashells, colorful linens, seasonal flowers, or other destination-inspired décor elements that tie in your surroundings.
Pick your favorite wedding head table ideas and start designing!
Next up, we look at different ways to save on wedding decorations. Uncover wedding décor hacks that help cut costs so engaged couples can save in style.