St. Simons Wedding Planner :: Island Destination Weddings | sweetheart table
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The Trouble with Head Tables

We’ve talked about this before— to have a head table or not to have a head table?

Increasingly we’re finding more couples looking to do head tables, but are amazed at the blow back from either their budget or from family and friends when they make this choice. I’ve seen some mothers insist things like “You two will have the rest of your life to sit alone. You should sit with your friends who paid all that money to be in your wedding.” Point taken.

Just so you know, I’m completely biased. I am Pro-Sweetheart Table.

There is some truth to the mom’s theory– you will have the rest of your life to sit together alone, and there has been a significant investment your family and friends have expended to participate in your wedding.  Yet, sitting down for the first time after being a bundle of nerves, taking a thousand pictures, making it through your ceremony and sitting down and having a moment together is equally, if not more, important. Besides, how close are you going to get to the person sitting at the end of your head table?

8.3.

That’s how many hours your groomsmen’s girlfriend spends alone.

That’s the rehearsal, hanging with the guys, getting ready, pre-wedding photos, post wedding photos, etc.  She’ll spend another hour alone during dinner if she doesn’t really know those  with whom you’ve assigned her to sit.  Likewise your groomsmen may want to get back to their significant other after being primped, prodded and posed all day.  And to be fair, the same can be said about your bridesmaid’s boyfriend!

When couples opt not include their bridal party’s significant others in the head table, either by choice or dictation of the budget, it can create an awkward situation for that person.  After being alone all day, they then have to make forced conversation with, at times, people they don’t know while their better half is put on display.

I also hear some brides say “I don’t want every one staring at me” as a refusal of the sweetheart table– to which I make a note to immediately begin researching a private bunker to hold the wedding ceremony.  You’ve already been on display, everyone has already stared at you– remember that whole walking down the aisle thing?  Standing up in front of everyone trading rings? See…it’s not so bad!  Besides, you can get a quick rest, enjoy a bite to eat with your honey and then go from table to table to speak with guests and avoiding the dreadful, antiquated receiving line.

Okay. Still not convinced?

In addition to the consideration factor, also be mindful of cost and size of a head table.  You may take up precious real estate out of your wedding’s floor plan if you have 5 or more in your bridal party on both sides, plus their significant others.  This means more linens and more tables since you can only sit on one side of the table.  Additionally, you’ll also need more centerpieces/decor to perfect the appearance of the table.  Just remember to allocate for these when doing your floor plan and making your orders.  If you can’t, or choose not to have the significant others sit with you, consider having them all at their own special table.  You can even be super nice by planning an activity for them to do pre-wedding to establish a relationship so that they won’t feel so alone.

Overheard At Your Wedding “I Hate the Head Table”

 

 

It doesn’t matter how gorgeous your head table or wedding is, as seen above, you risk isolating many of your guests and close friends by obligating them to a head table.  I am so happy when I see couples opt out of the antiquated tradition, and look to sweetheart tables instead.  At a recent wedding,  I was pulled aside by a guest who asked to speak with me about the seating arrangements.  The first words out of her mouth were, “I hate the head table”.  As we talked more, I learned that she was the fiancée of one of the groomsmen, and she was seated at a table far from him with a group of gentleman that she didn’t know. “It was so uncomfortable”, she said.  “They all knew each other, but I knew no one there”.  Her fiancé later joined the conversation and agreed that he, too, felt bad that she was alone and he couldn’t be with her.  I was given specific instructions to tell all my brides to “ditch the head table”. 

No one likes to fee that way—isolated, uncomfortable and far from those that you have a connection with or know.  This is what you risk doing with a head table, as well as a “bridesmaids’/groomsmen’s” table.  Your bridal party will have been together all day with getting dressed, as well as extended pictures before and after the ceremony.  Is there really need to have them away from their significant others an additional hour during dinner?

Of course, ultimately my suggestion would be to avoid the head table altogether and have a gorgeous sweetheart table that you can embellish and adorn for you and your new Mr.  Just like your bridal party needs this time to “come down” and reunite with their wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends and children—you will need this time, too.  The rest of your evening, albeit fun, will be filled with structure and activities.  Having a semi-intimate dinner with your new spouse will allow you a private moment to take it all in and slow down to get a bite to eat.

If you are absolutely dead-set on having a head table, then you need to include the significant others of the bridal party at the table. This, in turn will make your head table larger and possibly distort your optimal design for your reception.  You could opt for separate bridesmaids?? and groomsmen’s tables, but again—be sure to include their significant others. 

 

Remember, your wedding is a celebration of your day, but should not be a sore note for your guests and bridal party.

 

Photo :: Michael Steighner