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Round tables vs Rectangle tables for a wedding

Round tables or rectangle tables for your wedding reception? Our first reader question is here! It’s a common one that I often get asked when we start working on floor plans with our clients…

Hey Michelle!

My fiance’ and I are getting married next year at a venue that is basically a big blank slate. We’ve started to talk about what type of tables we want at the wedding: round or long. While I LOVE the look of the super long table, our venue is trying to steer us towards rounds. They seem so….traditional to me. What would you recommend?

xo

Julie

Hey Julie!

Oh, a big blank slate! Sounds like my kind of a venue – one where you need to make all of the design decisions, which can often be overwhelming, but that’s why I’m here. The rounds vs long table debate is one that my clients deal with all the time. Like you, Pinterest has given them a million beautiful inspiration images of super long tables but hasn’t done the same for round tables. Round tables also tend to feel, like you said, traditional, and stuffy, ballroom-like, etc. All the aesthetic feelings that my urban clients are trying to avoid.

What to do? The choice will depend on four things: 1) your budget, 2) your guest count, 3) the size of the space, 4) and aesthetics

Let’s think of this question spatially first: Round tables can seat more guests per square foot. One 60″ round will seat 6-8 guests and one 72″ round will seat 10-12 guests. Compared to a standard 8′ rectangle table that will only seat 8 guests, round tables can seat more people in your space. If your guest count is pushing the max capacity of the space, then round tables will be best in order to seat everyone comfortably. If you have some room to play with on your floor plan, you can do a mix of rectangles and rounds or maybe even all rectangles. This brings us to the budget…

More tables means more money. Every table you add is another centerpiece and another linen. 150 guests will fit at 15 round tables or 18 rectangle tables. The rectangle table option means you are paying for three additional centerpieces, linens, and tables. Something to think about.

Your budget could also be impacted by the availability of tables at your venue. Some venues have tables in-house that they use for events free of charge. These are often round tables. Deciding to use rectangle tables instead means that you need to rent each rectangle table. Again, more money.

Although, some of you will say “hell with the money, I want super long, romantic tables dripping with candlelight.” You might value your need for the visual impact of a long table over the practicality of the round tables. Great! Long tables lend themselves to pretty garlands, photographs that capture the symmetry and angles, hanging installations, overhead florals, and more intimate conversation between guests.

Round table receptions will often be less expensive to decorate, seat more people per square foot, and have a more traditional vibe.

Rectangle table receptions could cost more for the additional tables, will take more floor space to seat the same number of guests, and have a more modern, dinner party type of feeling.

Or, you could do a mix of rectangles and rounds to give the room a lot of variety and visual interest.

Your options:

A) All Rounds

  • Pros
    • Cost effective: fit more people at a table means less tables therefore less centerpieces, some venues have round tables in-house means no rental fees for tables.
    • High guest counts: Round tables can “interlock” in a floor plan, which means you can seat more guests per square foot
  • Cons
    • Traditional: not as hip as long tables

B) All Rectangles

  • Pros
    • Trendy: Get the look of candle light down the table or a super long hanging installation.
    • Dinner party feeling: Long tables feel like a big family dinner party
  • Cons
    • Costly: You’ll need more tables for the same number of guests as round tables and might need to rent all the tables.
    • Can’t fit large weddings: large guest counts won’t fit at all rectangle tables in smaller venues

A) Rounds and Rectangles

  • Pros
    • Best of both worlds: Some guests as long tables, like the bridal party, then everyone else at round tables.
    • Variety: Gives the reception space a lot of visual variety.
  • Cons
    • Technical: You’ll need knowledge of floor plans and flow to make this work. Your planner or caterer can best advise you on how to set up the room with a mix of tables.
    • Can’t fit large weddings: large guest counts won’t fit at all rectangle tables in smaller venues

Let’s talk sizes. Round tables traditionally come in 60″ and 72″. That’s the measurement of the diameter of the table. A 60″ table will seat up to 8 guests comfortably and a 72″ will seat up to 1o guests comfortably. Those numbers could be pushed up to 10 and 12, respectively, although people are going to be squashed. If you are using chargers at the place settings, keep the guest counts per table to the lower end of 8 people at a 60″ and 10 people at a 72″ round.

Rectangle tables come in 8′ long segments. Put together a few 8′ long tables and, tada, you have a super long table. Rectangles tables are all about the width. 30″ wide tables are the most common, BUT, they are SO NARROW. You can’t fit literally any centerpieces on a 30″ wide table except some garland and maybe bud vases. Compotes? Forget it.

42″ or 48″ wide rectangle tables are where you want to be. These widths leave plenty of space for pretty florals, candles, a myriad of glassware, bread bowls, table numbers, etc. The wider tables are also required for family style service, since you need room to put the platters down.

There you have it. The ins and outs of the round vs rectangle debate. Which table shape are you using at your wedding?

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