Do I HAVE to Have a Top Table?
You're not alone in feeling weird about this. Many people have slight reservations about the whole top table malarky, often feeling anxious of the 'fish bowl effect'. If that's not the worry, sometimes it's just a case of FOMO (fear of missing out) whilst you watch all your guests get tipsy and raucous whilst you sit next to your Dad and your SO sit's next to his MIL... As with everything in the world of modern wedding etiquette, it doesn't have to be like this!! Here's a bunch of alternatives in case you're in need of inspiration.
1. Wrap your top table. If you don't like the idea having one long table of people 'on display' facing the rest of your guests, why not add a few more people (significant others of the bridal party, grandparents etc) and wrap the seats the whole way round the table. You could always leave a little gap in front of you and your new spouse so that you can see all of your guests.
2. Stick it in the middle. Again, wrap the table (as above) but rather than have it at one end of the room stick the long table in the middle and surround it with round ones. The only downside of this is that speeches could be a little tricky to do at the table, so you may have to send speakers to stand elsewhere, or get them to practice their pivotting skills.
3. Sweatheart table. This always strikes me as a bit King and Queen esque, and definitely puts you and your s.o on display to the rest of the guests! So if you have no problem with being centre of attention (which you will be ALL day, btw) then this is a great option to save space since long top tables take up loooads of room. You'll actually find you get a fair amount of privacy, and can take the opportunity to basque in each others loved up happiness as you munch your roast beef.
4. Round it out. Round table are always fun and great for chatting. There's no reason the top table can't be round.
5. Spread the love. If you do go for the round table, it's also a great opportunity to split up your bridal party and family and dot them about the room. Each set of parents, best man etc, could each 'host' a table and help lead the conversation. Also, many people have awkward family situations at weddings (divorced parents etc.) and find it tricky to know what to do about the top table. If this is you, dotting your family and bridal party around could be a life saver. What's more, you get to pick which table you'd like to join, and not end up being left out of the fun!
If you would like to stick with tradition, however, and dropped on this article whilst researching top table seating arrangements, here is the standard format..