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Pros and Cons: Choosing a Head Table vs. Sweetheart Table

The perks and drawbacks of sitting as a couple or with your nearest and dearest at the reception.

Pros and Cons: Choosing a Head Table vs. Sweetheart Table

Reception
should-you-have-a-head-table-or-sweetheart-table-at-your-wedding-reception
Photo: Robin Gaucher Photography and Walters & Walters

They say that developing a seating chart will be one of the biggest challenges you face whilst planning your nuptials. If you choose to assign tables – especially if all attendees are given specifics seats – you’ll have to pour over your guest list to devise the best possible arrangement for your friends and family. Many couples spend so much time concentrating on their extended families, high school friends, and young children that they forget to make an equally important seating assignment: their own.

When it comes to the newlyweds’ placement during dinner, the duo often has two options: a head table setup or a “sweetheart table.” The head table refers to a larger table that includes the newly wedded pair, their bridal party, and/or immediate family members. The sweetheart table is a much smaller arrangement wherein the bride and groom sit by themselves at their own table. Both of these options have their upsides and downsides. As seeing that the positives for one option also serve as the negatives for the other, we decided to put forth the pros for each to help you choose what is right for your wedding. 

The Head Table - Pros

-  You’re immersed in the company of loved ones. You and your new spouse will be surrounded by the most important people in your lives, which can be a godsend when trying to wind down all of the ceremony nerves. Your maid/matron of honor, best man, and bridal party will help to settle your jitters and prepare you for an evening of fun and celebration. It’s important to remind yourself of the non-serious elements of your big day!

-  It’s yet another way to honor those close to you. Many couples often forget that any friend or sibling that accepts the title of “bridal party member” also accept to honor you, the bride or groom. These people have elected to stand up with you as you commit your love and loyalty to another person, and many newlyweds want to make their friends feel their appreciation. Choosing to host a head table is yet another small way to ensure your ‘maids and men feel special.

-  Guests don’t feel as separated from you. As opposed to being isolated, you and your sweetie are talking and laughing with others, which will lessen any perceived divides between you and attendees. Though the newlyweds are the reason for the celebration, no guest wants to feel like they are somehow below you and your spouse, especially on a day set aside to celebrate love.

The Sweetheart Table - Pros

-  You can spend some rare alone time with your beloved. The day will absolutely fly by, and though the purpose of the event is your marriage, couples often note that they don’t get to have much one-on-one time with their love throughout the celebration. If you couldn’t schedule an intimate “first look,” or plan for a half an hour alone after the ceremony, a sweetheart table gives you the opportunity to relax with your new husband or wife.

-  Your bridal party has a better opportunity to mingle. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen won’t have to line themselves up at a long table – they’ll be able to converse with one another more easily. Similarly, they will be guaranteed a spot next to their dates, while head tables may not allow space for the significant others of bridal party members. This way, no one will have to be split from their loved one.

-  You’ll feel the need to stand up and converse with all guests. Being alone at a table will likely make it easier to get out of your seats to greet all of your guests. While you can quickly get complacent surrounded by friends, your slight distance will compel you to spend time walking around, talking with your bridal party as well as all other revelers. Guests are sure to appreciate the special attention they receive from the couple of honor.

Explore our site for inspiration from real weddings, as well as tips from industry experts. Check out our article on the pros and cons of having a bridal party and playing reception games, and be sure to follow Inside Weddings on Pinterest!

Opening photo by Ira Lippke Studios