Hiring tables and chairs for your wedding is one of the first things you’ll want to organise – but, it can be tricky figuring out how many tables you actually need in the first place!
One of our most frequently asked questions here at HEH would have to be: “How many tables do I need for X amount of guests?”. Ultimately, the right answer depends on a few different factors including your floor plan, dining table size and personal preferences.
Not sure where to begin? From table width to place settings, keep reading as we share everything you need to know about table layouts below!
Image by Paul Bamford
Dining Table Sizing
The first thing you’ll need to think about is the size of your dining tables, and how many guests they can accommodate.
Here at HEH, we have a few different dining table options:
Our wooden dining tables, which measure 2.4m x 90cm
Our timber feasting tables, which measure 2.4m x 1.1m
And our black dining tables, which measure 2.4m x 1m.
Each of our dining tables can seat up to 10 guests comfortably – 4 either side, and 1 at each end. However, this capacity can change depending on your floor plan style, dining chair width, place settings and other variables (more on that below!).
Something else to consider when making your dining table selections is your menu style. If you’re planning a feasting-style menu, you’ll need to choose a wider table, ideally over 1m. Our timber feasting tables and black dining tables are best suited for share-style dining, while our wooden dining tables work better for plated meals.
Image by Cassandra Ladru
Decide On Your Floor Plan
Next, think about the kind of floor plan you want to create for your event. This is usually our first question for clients who are trying to figure out the right number of tables to seat their guests!
For example: do you want to set-up individual tables, or create long communal rows? Are you comfortable with people sitting at the heads of tables, or would you prefer using the sides only? Are you having a separate bridal table, and if so, how big is your bridal party?
These details will help you determine the number of tables needed for your guests – so if you’ve already decided on your floor plan, this should make the table booking process much easier.
Image by Figtree Pitures
Consider Your Venue
Before you make a concrete decision on your floor plan and table numbers, you’ll also need to consider the space available at your venue.
Remember, venues come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and this will influence your floor plan options. If your venue is long and narrow, it’s probably going to be better suited to long communal rows – but if you have a wider venue, you’ll have more flexibility with individual tables.
A good tip is to grab the dimensions of the space (or better yet, a copy of the floor plan) and then pencil in the measurements of your tables to scale, so you can play around with some different options. You can also ask your venue for images from previous weddings, so you can see how other couples have set-up their tables and what seems to work best for different guest numbers. Currently venue hunting? Read our top tips for choosing your dream venue here!
Finally, don’t forget to allow an appropriate amount of space in between the tables for catering purposes – around 1.5 metres is generally recommended.
Image via Deja Photography
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 with one plate and one set of cutlery per guest? In this case, you won’t need to space your guests out so much, and could work on 10 guests per table.
Alternatively, if you’ve chosen a plated 3-course meal, this will require additional crockery and cutlery – not to mention any extra decor you want to include in your table styling such as charger plates, centrepieces and guest favours. For a more detailed table setting, 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 wire Soho dining chairs are slightly wider than our other dining chairs, so we would recommend working on 8 guests per table if you’ve chosen this option.
Image via Jimmy Raper
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 absolute minimum, or 10 tables if you want to seat just 8 per table.
For long communal rows, you can still work on 10 guests per table – this works by seating 4 guests on each side, 2 guests at the joins between each table, and 1 guest at the head of both ends. So for 80 guests, you could still use 8 tables as an absolute minimum. But if you want to be more generous with space due to your table styling, chair width or simply personal preference, work on 8 guests per table instead.
Another point to consider is uneven table numbers. For example, if you have 70 guests, you’ll need a minimum of 7 tables. But 7 tables don’t split up evenly – so if you want matching rows, you’ll need an extra table to balance this out.
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. In this scenario, you can follow our guide to long rows above, but keep in mind that you’ll lose some seats in the inner corners of the “U” layout.
Now that you have the logistics sorted, check out our top 5 tips for styling your reception tables like a pro! You can also get in touch with our friendly team right here to chat through your wedding plans – we’d love to help you create the perfect furniture plan for your special day.