Round vs Long Dining Tables

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Although long or oval shaped tables are found frequently in smaller private dining rooms, round tables have been the norm for larger celebrations for quite some time. However in the last couple of years, we’ve seen that long tables have become much more popular in larger settings. Hosts look to them for a more informal style of seating and in many ways (but not all) they provide more flexibility aesthetically. Both can work brilliantly but equally both have their challenges. We’ve provided some insight below to help you in making this decision, creating a beautifully designed dining room that creates a comfortable and social environment for your guests.

Round Tables

So let’s start with the technical details: a standard round table would usually be 5ft 6inches in diameter and sit up to 10 guests. A larger 6ft table would seat up to 12 guests and a smaller 5ft table would seat 8. (Other sizes are available but these are most likely to appear in a dining room environment). These numbers are based on a ‘standard’ dining chair (for example a camelot or bamboo style as shown in all images in this post) but if you choose a wider chair then you may need to reduce the number of guests on each table, so best to check with your venue or caterer.

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For guests, round tables work particularly well because you can see and interact with everyone on your table and no one will experience having their back to someone. A dining room with round tables can often appear softer and more inviting as guests approach for dinner. They also provide a more flexible option if your dining space is an unconventional shape or if you’re working around pillars or fixed objects. It would be harder to have a lengthy conversation with a guest on the other side of the table however, so do consider your guest positioning carefully.

Aesthetically, a combination of low and tall floral arrangements in the centre of the table work beautifully, creating height and drama as you enter the dining room. To ensure that everyone can still see across the table when introducing tall arrangements, aim for a design which incorporates slim glass vases or for a more contemporary look, copper prism structures which you can see through, where the florals sit on top. Ensure the main arrangements are high enough above your guests’ heads when seated, considering your taller guests rather than the shorter!

Long Tables

Back to the details, long tables tend to be made up of a series of 6ft tables. As a rule of thumb, allow 2ft per guest, meaning you can seat 3 guests on each side of a 6ft table. Although you can often fit additional guests on the table, this will mean that some guests will be sat where the table leg is positioned which wouldn’t be comfortable. We would therefore advise against squeezing in additional guests if you can.

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From a guest experience perspective, it can certainly work well on long tables as you can comfortably have conversations with the five guests surrounding you. However, if a guest turns their back on you to talk to the person to their other side, it creates a slightly less sociable environment. It all comes down to preference and hosts tend to choose long tables for aesthetic reasons, but it’s good to be aware of the impact and consider your seating plan carefully. To make it more relaxed and sociable for those sitting on the end sections of the tables, we would suggest placing a guest at the ‘head’ of the table on each end. However only place two guests on each side of this final 6ft table (meaning 5 guests are seated on these ‘end’ tables rather than 6) so it doesn’t feel too cramped.

Aesthetically, long tables offer more flexibility with your table design so you can be really creative with your florals and tableware. Both elaborate and opulent or more contemporary and minimalist floral runners work particularly well, depending on the desired effect you are looking for. Again you can incorporate both high and low arrangements although low tend to be more common place. It’s really important to be aware however that rectangular tables are considerably narrower than a round table and therefore keep your arrangements slim and work with your venue and caterer to ensure that it will fit with your selected tableware. If you have chosen a family style sharing menu to be laid in front of guests at the table, this will have a significant impact on the space available for floral arrangements so consider this carefully.

So there you have it, some technical details as well as the pros and cons of choosing round or long dining tables. We hope you’ve found it useful. If you have any questions or if you if we can help you in making this decision, we’d love to hear from you.

Photo credits : Nicola Dixon Photography, Dave Watts Photography & Jo Jo Harper Events.