Last week we shared how the Reflective Groom and I concluded on our plans for the bridal table at our wedding reception. Fairly traditionally (for my culture at least) we decided to be joined at the head table by our bridal party – but not joined by their dates, and not joined by other members of our families. While our guests would spend the dinner at round tables, the bridal party would be seated in a long table across the front of the room, rejecting a sweetheart table in favor of being more approachable to friends and family we do not see very often.
So how did it turn out? Read on! (Hint: In hindsight, we wish we’d done our bridal table differently!)
As mentioned in the previous post, the order of seating we had settled on for the bridal table would be the best man, groom, bride and the bridesmaids – skipping the alternating male/female seating order that is traditional at weddings in my groom’s culture, so that we newlyweds could each sit beside our closest peeps. However, the evening before the wedding, plans evolved when I and my groom’s family were setting up the reception room with decorations. As his brother’s girlfriend laid out the name cards for the bridal table, she asked, “Oh, so are you two not sitting in the center of the head table? With this seating order you will be kind of off to one side, right?” The groom faltered, and I was too stressed by this point to care, so he moved our name cards to the center of the table.
In the Reflective Groom’s country, it is also traditional for the parents and close family members to sit at the bridal table… but we skipped this because my mother in particular is known for being a little critical. As it’s not common in my country – where the wedding would be held – to include parents at the head table, the decision to exclude them did not cause any family drama during the wedding planning. Phew!
On the day
So how did it all go? Well, the order of the bridal table kind of fell apart! We explained to the bridal party during the day that we had changed the order of seating at the last minute, and mentioned who was now sitting at which end of the head table. After all of our guests were seated the bridal party made its grand entrance to music, and then we all took our seats. Our entrance went smoothly, and the dinner and speeches went ahead all fine and dandy. But halfway through our main course, the groom whispered to me, “The bridesmaid sat in the wrong place when we entered, so I didn’t get to sit next to my best man.” I leaned around and, sure enough, the bridesmaid and best man had ended up in reverse order. It seems as though the bridesmaid, being from my groom’s country, was also used to the alternating male/female order – so simply assumed where her seat would be without checking the name card. Our bad for not explaining the order in more detail to our bridal party! We didn’t have the heart though to explain the plans and ask her to swap places. The groom and best man were a little put out for the rest of the evening about not being able to sit with each other.
And what of our plans for the long table across the front of the room, to be more accessible to our guests? To my surprise, my groom and I felt completely unapproachable to family and friends while behind that long bridal table! Even though there was no dancefloor or other barriers between us and our guests, only a few people actually came up to talk to us while we were seated at the table, and these were our siblings and the close friend who had given a reading during our ceremony. Clearly guests, for some reason, felt that visiting the bridal table during dinner was a privilege reserved for our nearest and dearest. It was also a little difficult for me to come out from behind the head table to mingle among our guests, as my big wedding gown with its long train and large hoop made it difficult to manoeuvre myself out of my chair and around the others seated at the head table. For example, I really wanted to go and speak to my cousins – as the wedding was actually the first time I was meeting them – but the opportunities when all of them were at their table were few and far between, and I could not move fast enough to take advantage of them. As such, the party portion of the evening – which I had hoped to use for dancing the night away – had to become my mingling and chatting time. In the end, I actually missed speaking to my cousins entirely as I didn’t realize they had made plans to leave early, and they departed before I got to them. 😦
So what would I recommend instead of the long front table? In the previous post I mentioned that our venue reception manager had suggested that, to be more accessible to our guests, that we should actually have the bridal table as a round table in the middle of the room where all our guests were seated. We worried that being at the same kind of table as all the other guests wouldn’t feel very special, but in hindsight I wish we had indeed done the head table in the middle of all the guest tables… but, at a long table, so that we could stand out, but also be within easy reach of our guests for chatting and catching. I came across this image (right) several months after our big day, and I thought it would have been the perfect solution for us. And it’s so simple! I can’t believe we didn’t think of it ourselves. Want to be in each conversation reach of your wedding guests, but still distinctive as the bridal party? Try this approach!
What kind of bridal table will you have at your big day: long, round, sweetheart or with more people? Who will join you at your head table and how are you deciding on the seating order?