Creating a top table was traditionally a way of celebrating a marriage and the joining of two families, however organising your top table in modern society can be one of the trickiest parts of wedding planning!
With many brides-to-be facing the dilemma of who to have at the top table without leaving anyone out or hurting anyone’s feelings, we have put together a guide to follow on top table etiquette and seating plans. Whether you want to stick to tradition or ditch the rule book, you’re sure to find an option that best suits you and your conjoining families!
Traditional top table
The traditional top table is still widely used across the UK and Ireland and provides a handy guide on where to seat your nearest and dearest. The bride and groom are centred at the table, flanked by the bride’s parents, then the groom’s parents and finally by the chief bridesmaid and best man.
One set of parents divorced and remarried
Like many couples, you may have one set of your parents that are divorced and remarried again. If this applies to you and you want to stick to tradition and keep a head table in your seating plan, then follow this top table plan below. It follows the same format as the traditional top table, but with two extra seats at either end: the bride’s stepfather and the bride’s stepmother. This works great if you are particularly close with your step-parent!
Both sets of parents divorced and remarried
In the case that both you and you’re husbands parents are divorced and remarried and you feel you can’t separate anyone out for an alternative table in the fear that they think they ‘haven’t made the cut’, follow this top table plan. It may be lengthy, but it sure works in including everyone!
However, these table plans may not work for everyone or work for your venue capacity and size. Don’t feel like you need to stick to tradition, there are various other options you can consider that will work for the modern family…
Alternative top table plans
Step-parent family table
If the of the bride or groom have divorced and remarried, many brides and grooms feel they cannot put them all together on the top table (to avoid any potential dramas!) If this would be the case, it can be a good idea to stick to the traditional top table plan and invite some family of the step-parent and put them together on a separate area beside the head table. If you are worried they may feel left out, consider asking them to ‘host’ their table to make them feel involved.
American style top table
Avoid any family politics and follow the US style top table plan. This is when the bride and groom are sitting only with bridesmaids and groomsmen, although not a tradition in the UK, this may work great for some couples, so feel free to ditch the rule book! Ask all family and parents than to host VIP tables close by so they still feel involved.
Famously fashioned by David and Victoria Beckham, a sweetheart table is when the bride and groom just have their own table. This can be useful for bypassing any issues or restrictions about who should be on the top table and it provides a chance to have a romantic meal for two as newlyweds and let the reality of your nuptials sink in.
The family table
If you and your new husband have children, a lovely idea is just to have the top table for your little family.
Banquet style tables / No top table
Of course, there is also the option of scrapping the whole table plan altogether and sitting wherever you like! You may have a ‘no designated seat’ rule to integrate guests together or you could have long banquet style table- this would mean there is no prejudice in picking the top table guests…. After all, it is your wedding! and you can decide on whatever table plan suits your circumstances best!
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