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Pros and Cons of Having a Sweetheart Table at Your Reception

Are you looking for an alternative to a traditional head table at your wedding reception? If so, then you may want to consider a sweetheart table! This is a smaller table that solely seats the newlyweds, while the rest of the bridal party and immediate family are seated elsewhere.

Despite being a seating trend that’s gaining traction, you need to think carefully about this arrangement and decide if a sweetheart table will fit in your overall wedding theme. It can create quite a different dynamic than a traditional head table.

sweetheart table
Photograpaher: Meredith Jane Photography

Since there are quite a few benefits but also disadvantages for this type of head table, we’ve listed a few of the pros and cons to help you decide whether a sweetheart table is right for you as a couple.

Pros of a sweetheart table

You can decorate it how you want

With a sweetheart table you can get creative with your decorations. In fact many couples tend to dress up their table to the nines and have a great time doing it. Not only will it create a focal point for your reception, it’s extremely photo worthy. Your photographer will be able to take some awesome shots of you as newlyweds.

Guests may feel less intimidated

If it’s just the two of you sitting at a sweetheart table guests might feel more comfortable approaching you. If it’s a whole bridal party at a long table, it may be more intimidating. However, be careful not to assume the opposite; if the table appears intentionally private, guests may be hesitant to interrupt. Strike a mindful balance that suits the two of you as a couple!

You get a chance to breathe (and eat!)

A sweetheart table provides a rare chance for you to enjoy an intimate moment alone together. It might be one of only a few you get at your wedding! You can also enjoy your special meal in peace, especially after you’ve taken such a lot of trouble to create the perfect menu. The rest of the time you’ll be interacting with your guests, especially the ones from out of town who’ve flown a long way to get there.

Cons of a sweetheart table

It might appear snobbish

Sitting at your own private table might make it feel like you’re ‘holding court’, especially if you don’t interact with guests after the meal and expect them to come to you. The best way to avoid this scenario is to be served first and mingle with your guests after you’ve eaten.

It might feel isolated

If you want to spend time with friends and family on your wedding day you might be better off having a traditional head table rather than a sweetheart table. It does tend to physically separate you from your guests. If you still want one, consider placing it closer to friends and family so you can interact more easily with them.

All eyes will be on you

A sweetheart table will give you added attention as you can’t blend into the crowd as easily. Couples who like the limelight will be in their element. If you don’t want to feel like you’re on display it may not be the right option for you.

sweetheart table
Photographer: Derrick Zellmann Photography

Alternative approaches to a sweetheart table

If you’ve decided that a sweetheart table most definitely isn’t for you, never fear! There are alternatives to choose from. Let’s take a look at a few.

Family table

This is a table that includes just the immediate family of the bride and groom. If you have a very small bridal party (e.g. a bridesmaid and a best man) or no bridal party, and you’re close to your family, then this is a lovely alternative. If you have a large extended family to accommodate, then this may not be the best option.

Traditional head table

This is typically just the bridal party, without their partners or spouses, seated at one side of a long, rectangular table. The beauty of this arrangement is that you get to be with your besties and have fun at the top of the room. If everyone is single then this can work well. If they have partners seated elsewhere who don’t know anyone it can be awkward.

Head feasting table

This is a modern spin on the traditional head table and involves the bridal party as well as their dates. Seating is arranged around both sides of the table, with the area in front of the bride and groom kept empty. The ends of the table are also used for seating. This option works well if most of your bridal party has significant others.

Other considerations

The type of head table you choose needs to fit in with your wedding aesthetic. If your wedding is an informal, laid back family-style affair with long farm tables and buffet dining, then a sweetheart table may not fit in with the look and feel of your theme.

The way the space is organized will also have a big impact on how the reception is conducted, and the way your guests interact with you. If you want to have a sweetheart table you need to think about the venue, tables, and dance area. Is a sweetheart table a good or bad fit for your reception space?

It’s always important to communicate your ideas with the venue when you’re planning the reception. If they know your preferences, they may be able to customize the space to give you what you want.


At the end of the day it’s your wedding, so if you’re set on having a sweetheart table then it doesn’t really matter what other people think. As long as you’re happy with it and people have a good time, then that’s what counts. If you’re stuck for inspiration have a look at these 21 ideas for sweetheart tables and see if any take your fancy.

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