Style + Flow: How to Layout your Wedding Reception


Your reception venue is party central for your wedding. It’s the place where you and your loved ones will laugh, drink, and dance the night away (and participate in all the ritualistic wedding zaniness, like epic battles over the bouquet, cake smushing, the Electric Slide). But in order for the reception to flow well, you need to make sure everything is organized and set up well. This might sound intimidating but don’t fear! We have your guide here.


Have both long and round tables. The diversity of table shapes will move the eye around the reception and give it loads of pretty depth (and be sure to leave at least 24″ of space between each table so guests can easily pass by. You don’t want any human traffic jams!). The principle can apply in other ways, too! Leave some tables covered in linens and others exposed. Your guests won’t know exactly why your reception looks so amazing–they’ll just assume you moonlight as a wedding planner!


Place tall, thin centerpieces running down the length of the long tables and low, round centerpieces in the center of the round tables. These types of decor and placements pair well with the table shapes and will elevate your style to total wedding #goals. The mix and match effect will give dimension to the overall reception and make it look like you took classes in party planning from Martha Stewart!


Place your sweetheart table in an easy place to see, facing your guests. You are the stars of the night and your sweetheart table should be visible and in close to proximity to the other tables so it feels like you’re still part of the party. You’ll definitely want to decorate the table (we are in love with these adorable signs) but make sure any centerpieces are low so everyone can see your faces and your photographer can get some shots of your first dinner as Mr. and Mrs.!

rubin_samples_ryanhorbanphotography_tylerbrittany772_low1One of the most anticipated elements of the reception is the wedding cake! Display your wedding cake on a table near the entrance so guests can admire it as they come in. Also, be sure to contrast the table with the cake. If your cake is white, don’t place it on a white linen or tabletop as it will all blend together and be hard to see in photos. By contrasting the linens with the color of your cake, you can make it stand out in all its cakely glory. Also, be sure to pair it a properly sized table. A small cake will look much bigger on a cocktail table. With these tips, your cake will be ready for its photo op!


If you are having a photo booth/backdrop area, situate it in a spacious area off to the side. Guests will be lining up for their turn to goof off in front of the camera so make sure there is plenty of space for them to wait. Have a table with props and a sign or attendant to explain what to. Then, any goofiness that occurs will only happen be for the camera! You’ll also want to make sure the photo area is off to the side–but not in an entirely different room than the dance floor. That way, the energy of the reception stays up and the central area always feels full of activity!

rubin_samples_ryanhorbanphotography_tylerbrittany690_low1Dance floor placement is especially important because it takes up so much room. Make sure you don’t split up the crowd (if you have tables on either side of the dance floor, ensure that guests have a way to get to each other without having to cross the dance floor). You also need to think about size. You don’t want cramming but you also don’t want an oversized space that looks empty. The general guideline is this: each couple should have about nine square feet to move and statistics show that 40% of wedding guests will dance at the same time. Wedding math to the rescue!

With these tips, your reception layout will be stunning and efficient. All you’ll have to worry about is busting out those dance moves!  


Photographer:  Ryan Horban Photography//Reception Venue: The Villa San Juan Capistrano//

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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  • Jenny

    I really like the layout of your website and the pictures along with the great ideas are awesome. I also think the Tall thin center pieces down the long tables is a great idea. I will be sure to mention that to our Farm Table customers. Keep posting great content – thank you.

    • desireehartsock

      Thank you!!