Sit-Down Wedding Reception Planning Tips & Inspiration!
One of the first decisions you’ll make when planning your wedding is the actual style of your event - sit-down, or stand-up/cocktail.
We’ve previously shared some of our top tips when it comes to planning cocktail weddings, so we thought it was time to talk about seated wedding receptions (and how to plan the perfect one!).
We love the intimate vibes and communal nature of sit-down weddings, allowing you to share good food and wine over dinner or lunch with loved ones. Whether you’re dreaming of a small, intimate dinner or a larger celebration, a seated wedding reception gives you the opportunity to get everyone together as you enjoy your special day.
When planning a sit-down wedding, there are a few key things to keep in mind - from your floor plan and guest seating to menu styles, table styling and decor to bring it all together.
Keep reading for some practical tips for all things sit-down weddings, along with some beautiful inspiration from recent events to get you started!
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
Having a rough idea of guest numbers is the first thing you’ll want to figure out before moving forward with booking your venue and suppliers. Remember, for a sit-down wedding, each individual guest will mean an additional chair, meal, space at the table, plate, napkin, cutlery… etc! Knowing your numbers upfront will not only help you find a venue that can accommodate your guests comfortably, but will also help you plan your budget and costs for the day.
As you start venue hunting, you might want to ask your venue for photos or floor plan examples from recent weddings with similar guest numbers. This will give you a good indication of how well your guests are going to fit within the space.
If you’re planning a larger wedding and struggling to find a venue with capacity, you can also consider a blank canvas venue - allowing you to tailor the perfect floor plan to suit. These days, there are so many beautiful options like marquees, tents and tipis to host a sit-down wedding DIY style.
FIND A FLOOR PLAN THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Your floor plan and table layouts can also help you create the right vibe for your sit-down wedding reception. There are a few different options when it comes to table layouts - you can opt for long communal tables, individual tables or a U-shaped table layout. You’ll then want to decide if you want a seperate bridal table or if you’d like to sit amongst your guests.
The right floor plan for you will depend on the size/shape of your venue, and the kind of atmosphere you want to create. You’ll also need to take into consideration the dimensions of your tables and chairs, along with the space needed between each table for food and beverage service. Finally, don’t forget to pencil in room for your dance floor and any additional items like your gift table, cake table or photo booth.
To make things easy, we’d recommend grabbing a copy of the floor plan from your venue along with the dimensions of your chosen furniture items, and pencilling things in to scale. Some venues or marquee/tipi operators can assist you with this using digital software. You can also read our top tips for wedding table layouts on the blog.
MAKE A STATEMENT WITH DINING TABLES & CHAIRS
Now let’s move on to styling your sit-down wedding reception. Your dining tables and dining chairs will be the hero - they’re the first things people notice as they enter the room, and really set the tone for the entire space. You’ll want to choose a dining table and chair combination that complements your overall wedding vision and brings this to life. Think about the mood you want to create, and the kind of colours and textures you want to incorporate.
For example, our Soho wire dining chairs are best suited to a modern luxe look, our rattan Indie dining chairs are perfect for a relaxed boho-inspired setting, while our bentwood chairs are ideal for classic and romantic styling. You can check out our top tips for choosing the perfect chair style right here!
When it comes to dining tables, we love a neutral base like our timber or black dining tables. On a practical note, you’ll want to consider the width of your tables as this will depend on your menu style and centrepieces. For example, if you’re planning a feasting/share-style menu, you’ll want a wider feasting table to accommodate for this. Whereas if you’re planning an alternate drop menu with simple styling details, you could get away with a narrower table.
Image 1 - 2: Lucas and Co Photography, The Events Lounge / Image 3: Stories by Ash / Image 4: Figtree Pictures, The Events Lounge
GET CREATIVE WITH TABLE STYLING
One of the reasons we love sit-down wedding receptions is the opportunity to really get creative with your table styling. You can use your tablescape details to add beautiful colours, materials and textures to your table settings and create a really lovely and memorable experience for guests. We recommend using a mix of varying heights, layers and contrast to create a detailed look - you can read our table styling tips here for more inspiration.
On a practical note, you’ll also want to make sure you organise all of the required catering items for your chosen menu style. This includes entree and dinner plates, dessert plates, entree, main and dessert cutlery, glassware and napkins. These items don’t have to be boring - we have so many beautiful styles and options when it comes to tableware and catering to suit your wedding vision. You can use our wedding hire checklists to ensure you don’t forget anything!
CREATE AMBIENCE WITH LIGHTING & FLOWERS
Finally, for a seated wedding reception, lighting and flowers will be key to completing the overall ambience of the space. If you’re looking to free up some room on your dining tables for food or other tablescape details, we’re big fans of hanging installations and creative backdrops to help you make a statement without cluttering your tables!
We love helping our clients create the perfect furniture plan for sit-down wedding receptions across the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Byron Bay. From dining tables to dining chairs, tableware, decor and more, our hire range includes everything you need to plan your seated reception. Get in touch for a copy of our latest hire catalogue, or to get the ball rolling with your wedding hire requirements!