Hiring tables for your wedding is definitely one of the first things you should tick off your list (they book out like crazy, believe us!) but it can be so tricky to know exactly how many tables you'll need to seat your guests comfortably. Especially when you're organizing this between 6 – 12 months in advance!
One of our most frequently asked questions is hands down – "how many guests do your tables seat" or "how many tables will I need for ‘x’ amount of guests". It's definitely something that you want to take the time to think about properly – too many tables and you'll lose the sense of intimacy with so much empty space, but not enough tables and you may have some floating guests without a seat!
If you're currently trying to determine how many tables you'll need for your wedding reception, keep reading as we walk you through some different floor plan options and things to consider before making a final decision.
Image by Bushturkey Studio
DINING TABLE SIZING
You'll first want to think about the size of your dining tables themselves to figure out how many guests can be seated per table. We have a few different dining table options in our furniture hire range, each slightly different in size.
Our wooden dining tables are 2.4m x 90cm, our timber feasting tables are 2.4m x 1.1m, and our black dining tables are 2.4m x 1m. To give you the short answer, each of our dining tables can seat up to 10 guests each, so 4 each side and then 1 either end. Because our feasting tables and black dining tables are slightly wider, these tables are the best fit for share-style dining (you can check out our top tips for feasting table styling here).
However, although you can seat up to 10 guests per table, this capacity can change depending on your floor plan style, dining chair width, place settings and other variables. Make sure you take the following points into consideration to help you create a comfortable seating plan with the perfect amount of tables.
DECIDE ON YOUR FLOOR PLAN
This is our first question for clients who are trying to determine the right table numbers. Our tables seat 10 guests each BUT what are you thinking in terms of your floor plan, because your table requirements will be hugely dependant on this.
For example, are you having a separate bridal table? If so, you'll need to allocate 1, 2 or sometimes even 3 tables for this depending on how big your bridal party is.
Are you planning on using individual tables, or creating long communal rows? Are you comfortable with people sitting at the heads of tables, or would you prefer using the sides only? If you've made a decision on the style of floor plan you want to create, this will make the table booking process much easier.
Image via Ivy Road Photography
THINK ABOUT THE VENUE SPACE
Make sure you also take into consideration the actual space available at your venue before making a definite decision on your floor plan and table requirements.
Venues come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so one floor plan may be better suited to your venue than others. A good tip is to grab the dimensions of the space and then pencil in the measurements of the tables. Ask your venue for images of previous events so you can see what works well. And don’t forget to allow an appropriate amount of space in between the tables for catering purposes - around 1.5 metres is generally recommended.
CONSIDER YOUR PLACE SETTINGS
Next, think about how much space your place settings are going to take up. Are you having a simple feasting menu or buffet with one small plate per guest and one set of cutlery? In this case, you won't need to space your guests out so much.
But if you've chosen an alternate drop style menu or have extra décor planned (think charger plates, three kinds of glassware, entrée and main cutlery, spoons, guest favours etc) then each place setting will take up more room, and you'll want to be a little bit more generous with space. For detailed settings like these, we recommend working on 8 guests per table, without using the heads of tables.
Your dining chairs can also influence your table layouts if you're working with a wider chair. For example, our Soho wire dining chairs are slightly wider than our other chair style options, so we recommend working on 8 guests per table without seating guests in the joins.
Image via Ivy Road Photography
To give you a visual reference, check out the following floor plan examples below. These floor plans are specific to the size of our wooden dining tables, so remember that our feasting tables are a little wider.
This is an easy one. You can either seat 10 guests per table, or 8 if you don’t want to seat guests at the heads. So for 80 guests, you’ll need 8 tables as an absolutely minimum, or 10 tables if you want to seat just 8 per table.
When creating long rows, you can still work on 10 guests per table, by seating 4 guests each side as well as in the join between tables and at the heads of tables. So for 80 guests, you could still use 8 tables as an absolute minimum. But if you need more space due to place settings, chair width or simply personal preference, work on 8 guests per table and don’t seat guests in the joins or at the ends.
Another point to consider is having long rows that are identical in length. For example, if you have 70 guests, you'll need a minimum of 7 tables. But 7 tables doesn’t split up evenly, so unless you're happy to have uneven rows, then you might want to add an extra table to make things look the same visually.
U-shaped table layouts are visually beautiful and great for an intimate setting but they are a little trickier when it comes to your table requirements. Keep in mind that you do lose some seats in the corners, as well as in the horizontal section that faces inwards linking the two rows.
Don't forget to consider that your RSVPS may change closer to the date - it can be a good idea to reserve an extra table just in case, but make sure you check your hire company's policy in regards to this.
You can also get in touch with our friendly team for a copy of our latest hire catalogue. We'd love to help you create a beautiful, comfortable and functional reception furniture plan for your big day!