Who Traditionally Sits at the Head Table During the Wedding Reception?

You have a few different options.

head table metal bench
Photo: Nikki Nicole Photography

When you're creating the perfect seating chart for your wedding reception, you're probably thinking less about where you'll sit-and who will sit with you-than you are about where everyone else will be placed for the night. While the overall seating chart is important, determining who will sit at your head table (and if you'll even have one), is crucial. After all, this sets the rest of the seating assignments into motion. There's more than one right way to fill it, as you'll see in the options below. An etiquette rule to consider: If you want to seat your bridal party the traditional way, then the table should be organized in a continuous man-woman-man-woman pattern. If gender-seating seems too antiquated, skip it and let people sit next to wherever they want.

Here, we outline the four most popular options for who sits at the head table during the wedding reception.

Option 1: Just the bride and groom.

When the newlyweds sit alone, it's generally referred to as a sweetheart table. This cozy arrangement will give the two of you a few moments of private time, which you'll welcome since you'll be busy the rest of the night dancing and chatting with guests.

Option 2: The couple, plus the maid of honor and best man.

Table for four, please! This seating allows you both to share a meal and a few laughs with the two members of the wedding party you're closest to. As an alternative, you may want to make it a table for six and allow your lead attendant's significant others to join you, too.

Option 3: The couple, plus the entire bridal party.

Invite the whole gang to sit at the head table. This works especially well if everyone knows one another. If not, consider letting the bridal party sit at another table with their partners. Child attendants may be included at the head table or, if they're very young (under five), sit at their parents' table if they'd be happier there.

Option 4: The couple, plus both sets of parents and siblings.

This crowd-pleasing choice honors your moms, dads, brothers, and sisters by putting them in the spotlight. Just make sure there's enough room for any plus-ones and that the family dynamics are good. You wouldn't want an argument to break out during the party.

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