Diplomatic Table Planning

Your wedding day is around the corner, you’ve had all of the RSVPs back, and hopefully you’re looking forward to an amazing celebration at Rockbeare Manor in Devon. You are naturally going to be very excited about what your wedding day has in store for you, your beloved, and your friends and families. There is just one small challenge to overcome – the table plan!

At Rockbeare Manor, our very special wedding venue in Devon, we see all the time how families come together for a wedding, but we also know how tricky it can be for the happy couple to ensure that nobody is offended when it comes to the table plan. After all, if your parents are divorced and haven’t spoken in some time, or if a parent or close relative is no longer with you, it can be challenging to manage the seating plan and to keep everybody happy.

Our experienced events team are full of ideas and help, and so read on to hear what our top suggestions would be when putting together your wedding table plan.

Ask those closest to you to ‘head up’ a table

This works especially well in circumstances where you may not be asking parents, the Best Man or Chief Bridesmaid to join you on the top table. Some couples choose to have a ‘sweetheart table’ for just the two of them, and if that is the case you could ask those closest to you to each host a table. Perhaps you have separated, or step-parents, or a mum or dad who don’t get on. You quite understandably wouldn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable on the day and so don’t feel that you have to conform to a ‘traditional’ top table of 8 (which would include the Bride, Groom, both sets of parents, Best Man and Chief Bridesmaid).   

If you did ask some of your nearest and dearest to host a table you could then get them involved by asking them who they’d like on their table which is a great way of making them feel an important part of the day.   

Table shape and configuration

The Ballroom at Rockbeare Manor is a really versatile, light and airy space, with a neutral colour pallet so you really can choose any style or wedding theme. It is also spacious, and so you have the flexibility to consider round tables of between 7 and 12 guests, meaning you can group guests together according to friendship/family groups. The total number of guests that you have will have some bearing on how many smaller/larger tables that you have space for, but any one of the friendly events team at Rockbeare Manor will be able to advise you on this. Another option is not to use round tables at all.  A banquet style set up, which involves one or two long rectangular tables, can have a real impact and avoids the need for a top table at all.   

Have a top table that includes all of your closest friends

A top table comes in many guises! At Rockbeare Manor we have a number of options – long and straight, oval, sweetheart as mentioned above, or a large circular table. For couples that are planning a fun and informal wedding, a table that includes their close friends, bridesmaids, ushers and siblings can make the day feel even more personal. Friends are often so involved in the pre wedding preparations, and enjoying your wedding breakfast with them will no doubt make it memorable. Don’t forget to let your parents know that this is what you’re planning beforehand!

Mix it up a bit!

A wedding is all about families and friends coming together and having a great time. During the drinks reception people will have chance to settle in, catch up and relax in the wonderful surroundings, but for the wedding breakfast why not seat guests in more varied groups? It is always nice to make sure that each guest knows at least a couple of people on the table so that they feel at ease, but it’s also great meeting new people too. Think about which of your guests may have common interests or mutual friends and go from there.  Our Barouche menu is a brilliant icebreaker. All the food comes delivered to the table as a feast on wooden boards, which all of your guests can pass around. It’s interactive, and a definite talking point!

Don’t specify who should sit next to who

If it’s proving tricky to establish who should sit next to who on each table, don’t worry! You could save yourself time and effort by leaving it to your guests to decide. You would still need to prepare a table plan which indicates which table each guest needs to go to, but you won’t need to have place cards made up to put on each setting.

Whilst it can be tempting not to have a table plan at all, it can be useful to ensure that we know where anyone who has a particular dietary requirement is seated. You may also have some guests attending the wedding that you know would feel more comfortable if seated with people they know.

Above all, the most important thing to remember about all of this, is that it’s your day and that people are there for you. They all want to be there, and they all want to help you to celebrate!

We’d love to help you to plan your wedding at Rockbeare Manor. If you would like to discuss your special day, call Kate or Stephanie on 01392 797444.

How To Navigate The Top 5 Wedding Planning Minefields

Wedding Place Setting

Throughout our years of experience in planning weddings, we’ve learnt a thing or two about navigating the various ‘etiquette issues’ that have the potential to cause family and friend fallouts on the big day. By fact that Rockbeare Manor is an exclusive wedding venue deep in the Devon countryside means you have so much freedom in how you want your wedding day that ultimately, we believe, this can help ease pressures to do things a certain way.

However for those issues that a bride and groom struggle with here’s our advice on how to manage them:

  1. Guest list

One of the first steps for any newly engaged couple is to plan the guest list. This in itself is a minefield, as you have to find the balance between inviting every acquaintance that you both know, because you feel duty bound to do so, and only inviting the people who you really want to be there. An easy way to simplify your guest list is to consider if you are likely to share a future relationship with the person in mind? Or perhaps ask yourself hypothetically if you would happily take them out to dinner – if the answer is yes then they may well be ones to go on the invite list.

A tactic we see many couples adopt is to make a provisional guest list nice and early in the planning of your wedding which can then be revisited later down the line.  It’s really important when choosing a venue to check that the dining capacity fits in with your potential guest numbers. At Rockbeare Manor we can host wedding breakfasts for 50 to 160 guests in our beautiful Ballroom which gives you lots of flexibility to have a guest list which evolves over time.  Final numbers don’t need to be confirmed until 4 weeks before the day itself.

  1. Children

Another important aspect to consider is whether you want to make your ceremony or even your wedding a child-free zone. It’s important to remember, no matter how many people protest, that it’s your decision.

There are ups and downs to consider with having children present. They can be very cute in photos and liven up the dance floor in the evening, however some may feel them to be a distraction at the wrong times throughout the day. If you do not want children present it’s important to let your guests know as early as possible so that they can make arrangements, and it is equally important to hold your ground if that’s what you would prefer for your wedding.  

However, for those couples that do invite children we’d suggest thinking about how to make their day fun too – a wedding is a long day, and so it’s a great idea to provide some activities for the children such as garden games, colouring books, and activity packs to keep them occupied. We can also put you in touch with children’s entertainers and event crèche’s.  

Whatever you decide, Rockbeare Manor is accommodating either way.

  1. Social Media

We’re now better connected than ever before due to social media. If you want your wedding to be social media free then it’s not unreasonable to ask your guests to refrain from posting pictures or other content about your wedding online until after the celebrations have ended. But if you like the idea of embracing social media you could actively encourage your guests to post online content about your wedding. Why not specify a personal hashtag that is for your wedding only?

Rockbeare Manor has WIFI throughout our venue in case you prefer the latter option.   

  1. Money for gifts

There’s some debate over whether it is acceptable to ask your guests for money instead of a more traditional wedding gift. And the trend of asking for money is on the increase with the average age of couples marrying now at 32 years old.

What research suggests is that wedding guests are more open to giving money as a gift if it has a clear goal attached, such as going towards a honeymoon or a significant item. If you’re going to ask your guests for money towards your honeymoon, then it may be a good idea to give them an idea of where you plan to go or the name of the travel agent you are going with so that they can purchase travel vouchers for you.

  1. Table plans

Arguably the most socially stressful part of a wedding because of course you want everyone to have a blast, and avoid any possible tension between guests that may not get on.

The traditional rule of thumb is to sit close family and friends nearest to the top table, with couples sat together and, if children are present, a children’s table where they can all sit together.

But, if having a top table is too complicated or causing worry (usually due to separated parents) don’t feel that you have got to have one.  Why not have ‘sweetheart table’ with just the two of you, or, sit with your bridesmaids and ushers and ask your parents to each host other tables. It’s your day, and you can think creatively about how to mix up guests based on common interests, geography and family branches.

At Rockbeare Manor we understand how challenging planning a wedding can be, and we are here to help and support you to achieve the day that you’ve always envisaged. Ultimately, one of the best things about Rockbeare Manor being an exclusive wedding venue in Devon is that the events team will work with you to create a day that is as individual as you both are.