What are some alternatives to the traditional wedding reception head table? I don't think I really want everyone to eat facing all of our other guests, and I feel like our wedding party might rather sit with their dates than with each other.
You have a couple alternative options. If you like, you certainly could seat your wedding party mixed into the crowd -- with their dates and the group of friends you would have seated them with were they not standing up for you. They'll still stand out (after all, you didn't pick out those matching dresses for nothing!). If you choose that option, you could seat yourselves with your parents and families, or you could have dinner -- just the two of you -- at a sweetheart table. Want to stick with the group? If your wedding party is small enough (or you can get a hold of a big enough table), you could keep everyone together and expand your head table to include your wedding party's significant others. Either way, everyone doesn't have to be facing the crowd -- you could seat yourselves at the same type of table and on the same level as your other guests. Just choose what you think will make you and your attendants feel the most comfortable.
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