At weddings, the top table can end up wherever it’s most convenient for the venue. However, consider these three points when making your decision about your room layout:
1. The background
Whatever is behind your top table will be in all of the photos! Make sure that any speakers or projection screens are put as far to the side as possible, and there’s little clutter in the corners (prams, people’s coats, … make sure there is space elsewhere to put these things).
A neutral but interesting background is the best, like the large windows and fairy lights in the image above.
Make sure that there is plenty of light on your top table – natural light if possible (unless the sun will have set by the time you sit down). 80% of the photos I take at speeches are your reactions (yes, you, the bride and groom!) to the speeches, and if I have to use flash for each of those shots, it will be more distracting.
Extra tip: If your venue has spotlights in the ceiling (rather than indirect uplighters), make sure the spotlights don’t fall directly on your faces as the light will be super harsh (think holding a torch right above your head) and you might get ‘raccoon eyes’ – not a flattering look. Even moving the table back a few inches will make a big difference. You can look out for this when you visit the venue or on the day before the wedding when you set up.
3. Position to your guests
Guests love to see the couple during the speeches, so make sure you are visible to most people. Especially when the speeches get super funny or emotional, it’s a shame when your guests can’t see your reactions!
This doesn’t mean that you need a long top table at the front – you can sit at a round table, just consider which one is best and where to sit.
4. Bonus tip! Wine bottles and table name labels
It’s important to me that your guests can still see you while I photograph (see point 3!), so if I have to, I’ll shoot the speeches on my knees or sitting on any spare chairs! In that case, a wine bottle or large table name label can easily block someone’s face on the top table. Don’t be offended if I move them right before the speeches, you’ll get them back..!
PS, as mentioned in a previous #ACWeddingWedesdays post on my instagram, the most photographer-friendly top table decorations are also shorter than wine bottles 🙂
If you have any other questions regarding top tables, or venue layout in general, comment below!