What's Good And Bad About Communal Event Table Seating

Whether it's a major media product launch, a fancy charity luncheon or a ritzy corporate black tie event, the trend today is for many event organisers to seat their guests at long communal tables.

As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages to hiring long rectangular tables for your event.

Advantages of communal seating:

  • You save money on venue space hire. For example, to fit 100 guests you can hire a space measuring 1,000 square feet (92.9 square metres) if you use rectangular tables. But you need 1,200 square feet (111.5 square metres) for the same number of guests on round tables
  • It's trendy
  • It's easier to take stunning photos of a long line of decor at the table unimpeded by guests' backs
  • You save money on tablecloth hire because you need fewer long tablecloths than round tablecloths for the same number of guests
  • Long rustic communal tables are faster for staff, your stylist and yourself to set up, decorate and/or serve guests at than round tables
  • It creates an intimate sense of community with your immediate table neighbours

Disadvantages of communal seating:

  • Guests don't really like them despite their prevalence in styled special event photos
  • You may need to hire inexpensive collapsible rectangular tables if your venue only supplies round tables
  • Long tables prevent free conversation across the entire table - at most, while seated, your guests can talk with only up to five attendees (the three opposite and one on either side) at any time
  • People seated at the end have fewer people to talk to and don't feel special as a result
  • Most long tables are surprisingly narrow which will limit your centrepiece options
  • If you have many Chinese guests, they won't like being seated at a long table as they prefer the Feng Shui of an evenly balanced round table
  • People are more likely to switch guest place cards on a long table than on a round table if they don't like where they've been seated.

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