There has been a building trend over the last couple of years towards using family-style seating for events. I like this trend and it’s one that I think will continue to generate momentum for all types of parties this year.
Family-style seating was once geared towards more casual parties and well, family get togethers. The idea of grabbing a seat wherever, tucking into a good meal, and chatting with whoever sat down beside you was fun and low-key. But, the continued use of long tables and more guests per table at parties has really turned this concept into something new entirely.
Now the concept of long rectangular tables is being used at everything from birthday parties to wedding receptions. It can still be totally casual and rustic with people grabbing their own food at the buffet and finding a seat, but also very formal with assigned seating and table service. Ten years ago I would never have even thought to have used a family-style seating concept for an event, but now it’s something that works and is a fun element to design around.
What I really like about this style of seating is that it feels more intimate than traditional rounds, which, I know, seems strange. With rounds you are looking at every person, with long rectangular tables, you can’t see the person down the line from you. But, you can get closer to someone when you are sitting side by side much easier than if you were seated in rounds. And many times you can have more, and sometimes better, conversations in a rectangular format than the typical tables for rounds of 10. They are narrower than large rounds, so connecting and talking with other guests is less of a strain. I know there were many times I couldn’t hear the person sitting across the table from me, and I just, embarrassingly, kept smiling as they waited for answers to their questions. Questions I didn’t hear!
It’s like creating little mini dinner parties within your event as a whole. When you go out to dinner with a group of friends, you probably aren’t sitting at a round table but likely one that is rectangular, or a bunch of tables pushed together to fit everyone in. And when you think of a board-room table I doubt it’s a big ole’ circle one that comes to mind, but rather the common long rectangular one. That’s because it’s just easier to see and hear people in this set up. That’s why I love that this concept isn’t losing steam but rather gaining ground as it becomes incorporated into more and more events.
It’s also a visually appealing set up. There is order and a systematic rhythm to the angular shapes of long tables. They can be placed closer together than typical rounds so space planning is sometimes less challenging. And the long table is a perfect canvas for running candles, florals or whatever you want really, along the length of it. It is much easier to decorate a long table because there aren’t any restrictions in size (other than the table does end eventually). That prime middle-of-the-table real estate that gets cluttered quickly with glasses, bread baskets and wine glasses on a round, is void of chaos on a beautiful long table.
Indoor or out, formal or laid back, family-style seating is the best new trend for me. What’s your next big party or event? Do you think you’ll give this type of table set up a try? I know for me that it’s definitely on my radar….now, all I need to do is have a party.
photo source: 100layercake (2); unitedwithlove (3); veranda (4); style me pretty (1,5,6)