Are you decorating the hall for your wedding reception yourself? Maybe you’re managing the setup of the banquet hall with the help of professionals. Either way, there are quite a few factors to consider. These wedding reception setup checklists will help anyone get organized and keep track of everything.

Just think of all the tables involved at a wedding reception. There are the tables for the cake, the gifts, the DJ, the guest book, the dessert or candy bar, as well as guest tables, buffet tables, the beverage bar, and, of course, the head table for the wedding party. Where should they all be placed?

Many venue managers can suggest often-used layout plans which can be helpful. However, the other side of that coin is that managers may be reluctant to modify floor plans from what they’re used to. It’s your wedding, so don’t be shy about asking questions and then incorporating your own ideas based on your specific needs.

Tables: First things first. Find out how many tables are available at your reception venue. Are they round or rectangular? Also, find out the sizes of the tables provided. To help you get the tables, chairs and table linen organized, download and print these three checklists.


Are tablecloths provided? If not, you can rent tablecloths at Bright Settings for a fraction of the cost of purchasing. Many venues provide white or ivory tablecloths. If that’s the case, consider adding table runners or square overlays to match your wedding color scheme. Colored napkins also make a huge impact for very little expense.


How many chairs are available? Will you need to rent more? If you’re planning to use chair covers, you’ll need to know whether they are folding or stacking chairs. Chair ties are a lovely, inexpensive addition too, even if you only use them on the head table.

Table Placement

Table placement is of utmost important. Here are variables to consider:

Head Table: Will the guests have a line-of-sight to the wedding party? Hopefully the most the guests will have to do is turn their chairs around to enjoy any speeches or toasts originating at the head table.

Guest Tables: Bright Settings has a wonderful Seating Setup Guide to help you with guest table placement. Did you know that round tables are a more efficient use of space than rectangles? Were you aware that at least 2 feet of lateral space should be allotted for each guest? All these factors and more are covered in the free guide.

DJ Table: The dance floor will often be the focal point of many important reception activities, so don’t make the location of the DJ (or band) an afterthought. The optimal floor plan for a reception eliminates any tables placed between the DJ’s speakers and the dance floor. The DJ often acts as the MC and activity director, so make sure that his/her space is as beautiful as the rest of the hall.

Buffet Table: The food tables should be close to the kitchen for obvious reasons. If you hire caterers, trust their expertise for the best layout. If you’re doing it yourself, traffic flow is of utmost importance. Queues of people should not block access to exit door, restrooms, and the general flow of traffic. If possible, have guests travel down both sides of the buffet table for speed of serving. Even if you’re not having sit-down service, napkins and flatware can be placed at guest tables so they need not be carried through the buffet line.

Gift and Guest Book Table: Place the gift and guest book table close to the entrance so guests can “sign in” and put down their gifts without having to search the room.

Cake Table: Don’t hide the cake in an out-of-the-way corner. Place it as prominently as possible. (You probably spent a lot of money on that beautiful cake, right?)

Dessert/Candy Bar Table, Beverage Bar, Photo Booth etc.: The placement of these specialty tables will largely depend on how much room you have left at your venue. Since these activity centers tend to draw crowds, place them where they won’t obstruct traffic flow. Make sure electrical outlets are available if needed.

Other considerations: If you’re short on space, some areas can do double duty. For example, tables can be placed on the dance floor during food service then removed afterward to make room for dancing.

If you need help with ordering table linens, let the experts at Bright Settings help. Print out the wedding reception setup checklists, find out how many tables and chairs you’ll have available to you, and then give us a call at 800-327-6025. We’ll be happy to advise you on tablecloth sizes and provide you with fabric samples to make party planning a cinch. Don’t worry about the table linens. Bright Settings has you covered!