One of the major things that comes up when planning a wedding reception is where people are going to sit during the meal. We all know that Cousin Jemima can’t sit next to Uncle Roger because they fell out when he sat on her dog at the last family gathering, and it probably goes without saying that you can’t put your college roommate and her boyfriend near that guy she got over-friendly with at your engagement party.
You and your fiancé will work so hard to make sure everyone is sat in the place where they will have the most enjoyable time for the day – but after putting so much effort into where people will be seated, it seems almost a shame to then not consider the table numbers.
I have scoured the interwebs to come up with a variety of ways to personalise your tables and charm your guests!
Naming your tables instead of simply using numbers is a great way to show your creativity, your personalities, or to continue the theme of your wedding. Not only that, but using pictures to illustrate your tables can add that bit of extra interest to the table – some couples even include fact sheets to explain the names, and get conversations going at the table.
Another bonus of names instead of numbers is that it prevents any blow-ups should Auntie Marjorie discover that she’s sat on table 6, whilst Auntie Jean is on table 3, no matter how much more convenient table 6’s location is for Auntie Marjorie’s wheelchair/zimmer frame/poodle.
Some ideas I have seen:
- Favourite Movies
- Places the couple have visited together
- Favourite Beers
- Favourite Books (this is one I’m personally using!)
Of course, there are still some considerations which need to be made when naming tables, which I will illustrate. My cousin and her husband live in the countryside, and do a lot of shooting – both clay pigeons and real birds. To incorporate this shared interest, they named their tables after game birds commonly found in England – Grouse, Pheasant, Partridge etc., accompanied by beautiful illustrations of the birds in question. However, there was extensive discussion on the table my family found themselves, as it was the ‘Pigeon’ table. Was this a snub?
Fortunately, it was taken in good humour – but this is something important to remember! Make sure that your table names couldn’t be misinterpreted by people! If you’re doing Favourite Movies, maybe try and avoid naming a table after Soylent Green – great movie though it is, anyone who has heard of it might find themselves with the iconic last line echoing in their head as they tuck into their hearty meal. Equally, if you are a fan of microbrews and including them in your table names, perhaps Trashy Blonde might be best left out on this occasion.
The main criticism levelled against names versus numbers is that it can make it difficult for guests to locate their table from the seating chart, as there is not an obvious order for them to be in. The best way around this would be to have your seating chart, or seating ‘map’ laid out in the shape of the room, with easily identifiable ‘landmarks’ marked on to allow guests to orientate themselves around. This can often be accomplished by something as simple as a differently shaped top table – a long table, whilst the others are round.
Pros – allows you to extend your theme that bit further; prevents upset with hierarchically-minded members of the family; lets people get to know your interests.
Cons – can be hard to navigate for guests; chance to cause accidental offence if names aren’t considered carefully; slightly more work than just plain numbers.
Jazzed Up Table Numbers
If you realise that you and your partner can’t actually a) agree on a theme of table names or, b) can’t think of enough names that fit your theme to name all your tables, it may be easier to stick with numbers. However, just because you are going the numerical route doesn’t mean you can’t embellish it!
Why not have:
- Photos of yourself and your fiancé at that age?
- Non-consecutive numbers, which are significant to you as a couple
- Number of hours spent on each project for the wedding, with photos
These can be a really fun way for your families to get to know both of your backstories, or of giving them an insight into the planning process. As with names, non-consecutive numbers can cause some navigational problems in the room, but also have the bonus of negating any arguments over who is more important than whom based on where they rank between 1 and 10.
Pros – slightly easier to come up with than names; less chance to accidentally cause offence
Cons – you will have to consider carefully if you want people to see THAT picture of you as a kid on your wedding day, pretending you’re elegant and classy. Or that might just be me.
Centrepieces as names
There is an emerging trend of decorating your tables with functional centrepieces rather than just pretty ones, why not kill two birds with one stone and decorate whilst naming? Or even three, and have them triple up as favours as well. Then on your seating chart you can use pictures of the centrepieces to show where people sit. A polaroid camera would be ideal for this, or if you have artistic talents, or know someone with them, they could illustrate them for you.
By combining your decoration, favour and table number card budget into one you may be able to afford more elaborate centrepieces than you’d initially planned. Also, by having different flavours or centrepieces on each table, it can encourage inter-table conversation after the meal, as people may want to try other tables’ food or drink, or swap their sweets for some they prefer; and very likely before the meal as people try and find their seats!
Pros – kills three birds with one stone – favours, centrepieces and table numbers, less stress and a money-saver; a real talking point; edible centrepieces mean that there is less worry about how to dispose of flowers or collect vases or candelabra after the big day.
Cons – you may end up eating a lot of cake, or drinking a lot of cocktails if your guests aren’t fans; if you have a lot of tables, you may struggle to find significantly different cake decorations or cocktail jugs to make it easy to distinguish.
Of course, for all these ideas there are innumerable spins you can put on them to make them uniquely yours. This list is merely to give you a starting point to move on from to make your day as individual as you are, and give it that extra personal touch.