Formal affairs bring guests to the table for at least a couple of hours. Setting the wedding reception tables for a compelling tabletop is important for the entire experience. The elements of your wedding reception tables should be coordinated in harmony with the décor and the cuisine.
Chinaware on the Wedding Reception Tables
Chinaware is part of the design. The tricks of design are in the edging of the plates, the patterns on the dishes, and the contrast of color and texture with your tablecloths, overlays and runners. A standard place setting will consist of a charger plate, napkin, dinner fork, salad fork, soup spoon, dinner knife, water goblet, wine glass and champagne flute. While the etiquette for the placement on the table is pretty standard, you can create a dramatic effect with the design and the way you coordinate the pieces.
The Little Things
Some small decorative touches are powerful. Table numbers usually consist of a paper in card stock that is folded to create a tent card and embellished with designs and a calligraphy number. These decorative signs have purpose. They will help your guests find their table. Get creative and name each table with a place, character or song that is related to your theme. Place cards designate seating for each guest. Menus can be tucked inside of the fold of a napkin for an elegant touch. Favors provide a keepsake for your guests, and decorate the table.
Candles add a romantic glow to the table. You might consider small votive candles to accent the other décor on the wedding reception tables or create a focal point with three-by-nine-inch pillars. Candles can be used in lanterns, hurricanes or tall glass spheres. Vases can be filled with water to float small votive candles. Using different sized candles can create the perfect accent to other table décor. The only rule to using candles on the wedding reception tables is to avoid scented candles where food will be served. The scent will affect the way food is experienced.
Head Table or Sweetheart Table
Traditionally, the bride and groom sit with their parents and the bridal party at a head table. Some couples hold to the old traditions, but many couples choose to sit alone at their own romantic sweetheart table. Sitting alone at a sweetheart table eliminates all the confusion about tradition and creates a separate space for the bride and groom to celebrate. Couples do not normally spend a lot of time at their table during the reception, but their table should be elaborately designed. The only rule for the sweetheart table is to avoid tall centerpieces and oversized floral arrangements that would block the view of the bride and groom. This is especially important for photography.
Dressing Up Wedding Reception Tables
Not every table requires a full tablecloth, but it will create a formal and elegant space. You might consider an overlay or runner to compliment your tablecloths. An overlay is usually a sheer and decorative fabric that extends down the center of the table and overhangs the ends about halfway down the sides of the table. A runner is a long strip of fabric that runs down the center. Think about the fabric and texture. Your theme and season will help you make most of the decisions about your linens. Fabric is associated with season. Velvet, brocade, dark satin and damask are reserved for fall and winter. The light and airy organza look works best with warmer seasons. Cotton, linen and silk work during any season. A polished look requires that you properly cover your wedding reception tables. This requires that you consider the length and shape of the fabric. You might consider ruching or tucking the edges of the cloth. Swaging is created by layering two tablecloths and alternately gathering into soft arcs.
Crystal Ballroom at Veranda
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