The Top Table At Your Wedding: Who Should Sit There And Why?

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The top table can be a source of great stress when organising the seating plans for any wedding. Modern families don’t always fit with traditional wedding seating plans, with many couples having parents who are separated, divorced and remarried.

Trying to decide who sits where at the top table can be very stressful, but it doesn’t need to be. At the end of the day a wedding is a very individual affair, many couples are ditching tradition and experimenting with different styles, so you aren’t tied to a rule book.

The traditional top table involves the Bride and Groom sitting in the middle with their respective parents and the Chief Bridesmaid and Best Man either side of them. However, when the family dynamic is complicated this can easily cause headaches, especially if the parents are divorced, remarried and not on good speaking terms.

If this is the case then it might be worth looking at an American top table tradition, in the USA the parents host their own mini top tables and leave the top table to the bridal party – Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen. This ensures that, for example, if the bride’s parents are divorced, or remarried, that the father of the bride and the mother of the bride can host their own table with the people they want to be with them and still hold the prestige of being the mother of the bride by virtue of having their own VIP table.

You can’t please everyone all the time, but you can try and accommodate. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask them what their preference would be and if they would be agreeable to sitting beside their former partner or not.

Sometimes it can be especially difficult to plan the top table due to the loss of family members, and when there are people missing a trestle table is worth considering – it also works well if there is an extended close family. A trestle table means there isn’t an awkward gap as would occur at a long top table; this layout helps absorb space so no-one is too far apart.

If the above variations of a top table don’t suit, there are alternatives:

Sweetheart table – Basically a table solely for the bride and groom that gives them space and time to be together during a day when the spotlight has been on them continuously.

No top table – Instead of a top table, the couple can have staff at the reception venue have extra chairs at some of the tables and the couple simply move around together or individually to different tables for each course, allowing them to spend time with all their guests.

top table

The Couple, Best Man and Maid of Honour – Keep it simple and only have the immediate wedding party at the top table.

Include the children – If the couple already have children, why not include them in the top table and no-one else?