Diplomatic Table Planning

Your wedding day is around the corner, you’ve had all of the RSVPs back, and hopefully you’re looking forward to an amazing celebration. You are naturally going to be very excited about what your wedding day has in store for you and your other half, and your friends and families. There is just one small challenge to overcome – the table plan! 

 Wedding Table Plan Wedding place setting

At Rockbeare Manor, our very special wedding venue in Devon, we see all the time how families come together for a wedding, but we also know how tricky it can be for the happy couple to ensure that nobody is offended when it comes to the table plan. After all, if your parents are divorced and haven’t spoken in some time, or if a parent or close relative is no longer with you, it can be challenging to manage the seating plan and to keep everybody happy.

Our experienced events team are full of ideas and help, and so read on to hear what our top suggestions would be when putting together your wedding table plan.

Wedding table set up at Devon wedding venue

Table shapes and sizes

The size, configuration and number of tables possible will depend entirely on the capacity of your wedding venue so before you get too far with the table planning, talk to your wedding coordinator or manager who will be able to advise on how the room layout works best.

For example, at Rockbeare Manor we are lucky to have a really versatile, light and airy Ballroom and as it's so spacious you have the flexibility to seat anywhere between 50 and 160 guests on round tables of between 8 and 12.  This means that you can group guests together according to friendship or family groups rather than having to have the same number of people on each table.   For weddings of up up to 110 guests, the optimum number of people that we would recommend around our standard 5ft round tables, would be 8 guests to a table which will allow for plenty of elbow room too! For tables of 11 or 12 a larger 6ft round table will be required and we have 3 of these available for weddings at Rockbeare Manor. 

The beautiful wedding in the picture below was set up for 86 guests using 5ft round tables of 8 to 10 guests, with an oval top table as the focal point in the centre. 

The Ballroom at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

Top table - the options are endless!

A top table comes in many guises and you definitely do not have to conform with tradition! Things have moved on and the most important thing is that the couple getting married feel comfortable with who they have chosen to dine with on this momentous day. Perhaps you have two Best Men, or two Fathers of the Bride, or maybe your mum is walking you down the aisle and therefore you want her to be beside you at the top table. 

Mother walking bride down the aisle

At Rockbeare Manor we have a number of options – long and straight, oval, a sweetheart table just for the married couple, or a large circular table. For couples that are planning a fun and informal wedding, a table that includes their close friends, bridesmaids, ushers and siblings can make the day feel even more personal. Friends are often so involved in the pre-wedding preparations and enjoying your wedding breakfast with them will no doubt make it memorable. Don’t forget to let your parents know that this is what you’re planning beforehand!

Mother and bride on top table

Bridesmaids at Rockbeare Manor wedding venue

Ask those closest to you to ‘head up’ a table

This works especially well in circumstances where you may not be asking parents, the Best Man or Chief Bridesmaid to join you on the top table. Some couples choose to have a ‘sweetheart table’ for just the two of them, and if that is the case you could ask those closest to you to each host a table. Perhaps you have separated, or step-parents, or a mum or dad who don’t get on. You quite understandably wouldn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable on the day and so don’t feel that you have to conform to a ‘traditional’ top table of 8 (which would usually include the married couple, both sets of parents, Best Man and Chief Bridesmaid).   

If you did ask some of your nearest and dearest to host a table you could then get them involved by asking them who they’d like on their table which is a great way of making them feel an important part of the day.

Wedding table set up at wedding venue in Devon Wedding table center ideas

Mix it up a bit!

A wedding is all about families and friends coming together and having a great time. During the drinks reception people will have chance to settle in, catch up and relax in the wonderful surroundings, but for the wedding breakfast why not seat guests in more varied groups? It is always nice to make sure that each guest knows at least a couple of people on the table so that they feel at ease, but it’s also great meeting new people too. Think about which of your guests may have common interests or mutual friends and go from there.  Our Barouche menu is a brilliant icebreaker. All the food comes delivered to the table as a feast on wooden boards, which all of your guests can pass around. It’s interactive, and a definite talking point!

Guests chatting at a wedding

Table decorations at wedding in Devon

Keep it simple, and organised.

Whilst it can be tempting not to have a table plan at all, it can end up feeling disorganised and a bit of a free for all for your guests and there is always a chance that couples or families will end up being split up. Your caterer will also need to have a clear idea of where any guests with allergy's or dietary requirements are seated which is nearly impossible without a seating plan!  You may also have some guests attending the wedding that you know would feel more comfortable if seated with people they know.

A well presented table plan is an essential. It is usually A3 or A2 in size and it indicates which table each guest needs to go to and it can be displayed on an easle by the entrance to the room that you will be eating in.  Following on from this, clear table names or numbers should also be placed in the centre of each dining table - again helping guests know where to head. The final piece of the puzzle is making sure that each guest, has a place card on their setting, with their name on it.  

Above all, the most important thing to remember about all of this, is that it’s your day and that people are there for you. They all want to be there and they all want to help you to celebrate! If the table planning is getting too much at any point - have a break from it and go back to it in a week or two with a fresh outlook and don't forget you can always call upon your wedding venue team who will undoubtedly be happy to help. 

 Guests clapping during wedding speeches

Table plan

We’d love to help you to plan your wedding at Rockbeare Manor. If you would like to discuss your special day, call our lovely team on 01392 797444.

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