I focus a great deal on little details around here: the things that tend to drive people crazy when planning weddings, and the usual reason they end up hiring a planner or coordinator. Unless you have a fiendish, somewhat un-hinged love of all the wedding-related details, they can suck all the life and fun out of the planning.

For instance, you’d think I’ve already covered everything there is to cover on table arrangements. I’ve gone over colored linens, rented silverware and stemware, how to arrange centerpieces for maximum beauty regardless of materials involved…but there’s more.

How many of you have actually given thought to the actual table? Underneath the linen and china, the structure of the table is like the skeleton of the tabletop: it lends the shape and underlying architectural and design support to your whole artistic scheme.

I know, I know: “Why is she talking about tables? We know what a table is.”

Just stick with me; I promise this is going somewhere.

The Classic

Have you ever been to a wedding reception that didn’t have the classic circular table?

If you have, then I’m envious of you. There’s nothing wrong with the classic circular table. But it is extremely common. And this is a wedding blog that celebrates the uncommon, which is why I’d like to draw your attention to some alternatives:

The Square Table

Okay, so maybe you’re a fan of what the circular table accomplishes: it provides a little intimacy in an otherwise large gathering of people who may or may not all know each other, it makes it easier for the bride and groom to get around and visit everyone, not to mention making it easier to arrange the seating.

Create a little “oomph” by simply changing the shape of the table:

You get to keep all the benefits of the circular table, but guests aren’t as smooshed – and they don’t have to wonder which glass or bread plate belongs to whom. I know I’ve had that problem before!

The Royal Table

The next example is great for smaller weddings. The royal table is easily accomplished, and creates a really dramatic effect.

Several rectangular tables placed end to end, for the effect of looking like a single, unbroken table. This is how the dining tables of the royal courts of Europe used to look, hence the name of the style. There are many ways to use this look in a reception space. If your space is narrow, a single long table is stunning and a good use of space.

For a larger space or more than fifty guests, consider a U-shaped arrangement, leaving the center space for the dance floor and cake table.

*Note: More often than not, the royal table looks dated when place settings are only on one side, as with a bridal party table. To keep it modern, make sure the centerpieces are pushed up to the front, facing the rest of the guests. Also, resist any kind of fabric draping over the front side of the table. Below is an example of the proportions to shoot for:

The Oval Table

This one is not for the traditional. The oval table…I can’t honestly say I’ve ever sat down at one. I think they’re especially good for the couple who wants va-va-voom centerpieces: the table is large enough to support a larger centerpiece without crowding into the china and stemware. You can also fit more people around them comfortably.

So there you have it. Renting tables is the easiest part of wedding customization: any party rental supplier will have several shapes of tables, in different sizes and with appropriate linen. Changing the table shapes may be one of the most economical ways to insure yourself against the generic wedding!