It's Not Just About Food
How does one actually decorate the reception table?
By Natalie Tsang
August 22, 2011
If your reception offers a formal dinner, then your guests will be spending a big chunk of time sitting at a table. The right table decor can transform a piece of furniture from a place of conversation to a conversation piece. The table decor can help set the tone of the dinner and should follow the theme of your wedding. The colors of the tablecloths and chair coverings should match the dining area. You can use indoor decorations such as wall hangings to create more color continuity.
After finalizing the guest list and seeing the venue, you will know what kind of tables you'll have and how many. You should never try to seat too many guests at one table. If possible, try out a table in the beginning of the planning process. Bring some friends and sit down at the reception venue. Does everyone have enough elbowroom? Are you seated close enough to make easy conversation? How much personal space does each guest have? The size of your table and number of guests per table will affect the choices for your place settings and centerpiece.
Next you'll need to decide how the tables should be arranged. If you have a lot of tables, clustering them in small groups promotes conversation and mingling between tables. Do most or all the tables have a clear view of the head table? Is there enough walking space between tables? You or some of your guests may choose to wear a ball gown so it's best to leave plenty of room.
And finally, how does one actually decorate the table? While classic white cloths and covers are the most common for weddings, they are also the most predictable. Colored, patterned or lace tablecloths are alternative choices. You can even go all out and decorate tables differently. If you want to go the less dramatic route, a colored napkin can add a punch of color.
You can also decorate by sprinkling items on the table. For an autumn or spring wedding, you might consider leaves in the appropriate color. Flower petals and seashells can also add a simple and unique touch. Combined with a centerpiece, this can totally transform the dining space to a themed adventure. It is best to sprinkle at the center of the table where decorating items won't accidentally cling onto your guest's arms or worse, fall into her food.
The place setting includes the cutlery, dishware and drinkware. Your caterer or venue might provide several options to choose from, but even if you're stuck with one set, you can add your own spin by customizing your place card (who says it even has to be a card?), ordering custom napkins or printing your own placemat.
Remember that a meal, especially this meal, is a place where people love, laugh and share. In many cultures, breaking bread or sharing tea cements a bond of friendship. As the bride, even if you'll only be able to spend a few minutes with each of your guests, you can remind them of how much you care by creating a comfortable and beautiful table.