Updated: Feb 5, 2021
Setting the table scene for your reception, dinner party, luncheon, or even brunch is so important in setting the mood of your event. The details of your table and overall setting conveys the theme and the overall look that you created. There can be a lot of little touches that go into setting a table but depending on what vibe or look you are going for, the process can be very easy! You’ll be surprised how the smallest details can make all the difference in creating a table setting that is beautiful and memorable.
Where to Start:
Start with your table style. Do you envision round tables? Farm table style? Long rows of squares? You might want all the tables to be the same size and shape or you might want to vary them. There are a lot of guides online to inspire you. Deciding can be confusing but a few tips I have are: round tables allow for a more intimate setting because guests can see each other and have more visual space to strike up a conversation. Rectangle tables can seat more people but may limit cross-table conversation compared to a round. A King Style table can accommodate a lot more people and space on the table for food while having a view of the newlyweds sitting at the helm of the table.
Linens. Adding linens can totally change the vibe of your table setting and can go a variety of directions. Others prefer to leave wooden, farm-style tables bare to show off the wood grain for a more rustic, natural look. This is where Pinterest can come in handy for saving all those style ideas. My recommendation is that if you are renting standard plastic or wood tables from a rental company, to pair it with linens that are floor-length to cover any wear and tear the rented tables may have. I personally don’t like the metal table legs showing so I opt for linens to cover them up. Table runners also add a touch of color or sparkle and can come in different textures to add more dimension to your setting.
Keep in mind guest count. It will help to determine early in the planning process exactly how many guests you plan on having on attend your event. Some things to consider are the number of chairs and tables you may have to provide, table space, and seating between guests. In my experience, nobody particularly enjoys sitting really close to another guest on benches or at tables because there isn’t enough room. Don’t forget to find out what your room size is to help with the table layout. For example, if you have the room space, I would recommend leaving at least 6 feet between rectangular tables to allow enough room for people to put out their chairs and ideally on a 6 foot round table, the max guests seated should be 10-12. It will all depend on what space you have to work with. As your planner, I can assist with sketching out your layout and measuring what spacing might work best!
Food serving and utensil placement. Another thing to consider is what kind of food will you be serving. You might want to allow more room if it will be family style and require more space for serving dishes on the table. If it will be buffet style, it may lend itself to more table space. Also, if serving wine, water, and other beverages, think about how many glasses and pitchers there will be and the space needed to accommodate it all. When it comes to food planning and table setting, my preference is to have the dinner plate placed at the table even when it’s buffet style. It will make it so that your table looks complete and makes for amazing photos to look back on. Another tip: if you are going for a more elegant style setting, I recommend chargers placed under the plate. > When it comes to utensils, placement can be confusing! What you will need will depend on the style of food service you choose. If it’s a multiple course meal, you will require more utensils. If you want to follow traditional utensil placement, remember one thing when setting your table: forks go on the left side of the dinner plate starting with salad fork on the outside. Any knives and spoons are placed on the right hand side, and always place the blade of the knife towards the plate. Dessert fork or spoon goes horizontally above the dinner plate with the handle towards the right. The dessert fork is laid beneath the dessert spoon (or dessert knife), handle facing left. The dessert utensils may also be presented on the dessert plate in the same way as formal service. > When it comes to beverages and stemware, consider if you will be serving wine or champagne at your tables, or if you will have a separate bar. Serving alcohol at the table will depend on your theme and what your preference is. For a wedding event, serving wine and champagne to your guest is a very nice touch, but I suggest having any staff you hire pour for guests because it will prevent having lots of half-used, open bottles at the end of the evening. I also recommend having water glasses at each place setting. Much like the utensils, there are the traditional placements of stemware at a table setting: place the stemware at each place setting you might ask, just above the dinner knife. You can group glasses together or fan them out above the dinner plate.
Table theme & fine touches. In addition to plates and cutlery on the table, allow for space to add any decor items to really bring your theme together. The theme of your setting should echo the tones of your invitation or any other materials you have sent out. A few things to ask yourself: what time of year is your event? Will it be an outside event or in a hall, home or barn? For example, if you wanted an upscale more elegant theme, then perhaps a banquet hall at a fancier venue would be best over a more rustic location. Maybe you want to do rustic/vintage with a barn and complementing table setting which might be best during a summertime event so guests can enjoy the warm weather while at their table. Once you have picked your theme then you can start to look at colors, menu styles, and even your signature drinks!
Setting your table. In my opinion, this is the part where you can get the most creative! Once you have selected your table, linens, utensils, and decor — now you get to put it all together and lay it out on the table! After you place the plates, utensils, and stemware you can add the decor! There are so many fun ways to place all of these elements. I like to experiment with napkin layouts and folding as well as trying to innovate the setting so that it’s more dynamic and eye-catching. I would be happy to help you with this process as your planner! I like to make sure that that space is efficiently utilized but also aesthetically pleasing and meets your theme! When it comes to the table setting, candles and centerpieces are very popular items as are fresh flowers or leaf garlands. Think about the color scheme for the decor and try to complement your napkins, menus, table numbers and other place setting accessories like name cards to that theme. One thing to keep in mind about centerpieces is the size — you want to make sure your guests can see each other across the table, so keep your pieces low enough. My favorite thing to do is to create 2 to 3 different tablescapes with varying centerpieces but all within the same theme and color scheme. Another thing is that I like to do as an added touch is placing a sprig of fresh herbs or leaf into the napkins of each setting. The attention to detail adds to the overall look and gives people different things to look at during your event reception and dinner.
Hopefully that guide helps you as you begin dreaming up your table setting! One of my favorite parts of a wedding is the reception because I like to gaze across the room and see my clients friends and family all together enjoying a meal at the beautifully set tables celebrating the newlyweds. Your table can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be and I am here to help you make it happen. Feel free to reach out for a consultation or an appointment to talk about what decor rental pieces you could add to your setting!