Form & Function: Navigating Event Furniture Lingo


Congratulations on your engagement! Aren’t you excited to begin planning a day filled with love, celebration, delicious food, gorgeous flowers and hi-boys?

“Wait…what? I am not sure how a “hi boy” fits into my dream wedding plans?”

We are here to help! You are about to invest a lot of time going on site visits and comparing venues for your wedding reception and, possibly, your ceremony. You will encounter many enthusiastic, knowledgeable wedding professionals who are eager to share information with you about the furniture that their venue does, or does not, provide. It will be a very important part of your conversations involving guest counts, seating arrangements, rental budgets, catering, décor and the overall style of the event.

However, some of what you will hear may sound like a foreign language to you. And, with good reason! Most of us don’t ever talk about a celebration on the scale of a wedding until it’s our actual wedding; and before you know it, your head is swimming with new lingo and verbiage that you’re supposed to use to make informed decisions.

To that end, the following is a succinct guide to just some of the furniture that you are likely to encounter during your wedding planning.

Take a Seat

Garden Chair: Don’t let the name deceive you, this chair is used indoors and outdoors. Most popular in white, it is also offered in black and something called “fruitwood” which is fancy talk for brown. Material – Resin or wood.

Stack Chair: Think banquet hall. Cushioned either with pleather or fabric, this is an all-purpose, restaurant style chair that may or may not fit into something as formal as a wedding reception…especially if the seat color clashes with your wedding colors. If chairs are not visible during your site visit, ask to see them! Material – Metal & fabric.

Chiavari: Ah, the most mispronounced piece of furniture in existence! Pronounced Sha-var-ee, this beauty has been around for decades and remains a popular choice when you want to do something a little special. Look for it in white, gold, silver, natural and mahogany. Seat cushions are tied on and optional. Material – Sturdy bamboo & wood.

X-back/Tuscan X-back: Two names, same chair. Typically available as a wood finish, this charmer bridges the gap perfectly between rustic and elegant. With optional cushions.                               Material – Wood & resin.

Ghost Chair: A relatively new offering that’s becoming more available, the ghost chair is quite frankly one of the most dramatic pieces to hit the wedding scene in years! It’s called a “ghost” because it truly disappears and your décor, linens and florals are able to take center stage. Gorgeous! Be ready for an equally dramatic price tag. Material – Lucite & Plexiglas.

Welcome to The Table

Hi-boy/Bistro/Cocktail/Pedestal: So many names, so many possibilities! Whether you choose 30”, 32” or 36”, these small but mighty tables are a great addition to your event design! Primarily used during cocktail or social hours, with or without bar-height chairs, as a place to sit your beverage while you nosh. If you’re lucky to enough to have access to an adjustable cocktail tables, you can really get creative! Adjustable means they might be low enough to place chairs around for guests to sit at dining height or they can be higher for true pub-style height. And that in-between level? Perfect for wedding cake or a guest book. How about creating a trio with one of each height and placing them tightly together for a dessert vignette?

48/60/72” Rounds: These are your classic, round dining tables that can seat from four people up to 10 people. The conversation you can expect to have about them is what size linen they each require. Here’s a cheat sheet:

Table Size

Linen Size



48” Round 60” Round 72” Round
90” round linen 21” drop on the sides 15” drop on the sides (knee skimmer) 9” drop

(Do you really want to see those table legs?)

108” round linen To the floor 24” drop 18” drop
120” round linen To the floor 24” drop
132” round linen To the floor

Banquet/Buffet/Family Style Tables: If you like your edges a bit more defined, the rectangular table might be more your style. Or, you can mix and match for an interesting floorplan. The easy thing to remember is six feet for six people and eight feet for eight people. You can comfortably seat six people at a six-foot rectangular table and eight people at the eight-foot table. That’s assuming you don’t place people on the far ends which you only do if you really don’t like them. It’s impossible to sit at the end without knocking your knee into the table supports about 100 times!

Farm Table: The name says it all. This is typically a rustic, wooden table with heavy legs and a cross beam underneath. Used in small groups or as a statement piece, a farm table rarely needs a linen and can be striking in the middle of a table grouping with a runner, low florals and all the candlesticks you can get your hands on! Very few venues provide them, so this is a rental item, available now from most event rental companies.

This guide is a very good starting point for the basic furniture involved in a wedding event. However, nowadays there are so many clever ideas and suggestions available out there. Victorian sofas, barstools of every variety, wicker furniture…the sky’s the limit. Hopefully, this list will ground you before you take off!

I also recommend a Google search of “table linen chart” to find many helpful charts and lists.