Just in case you are all dying to know how my little head works, I thought I would give you a list of the 12 items I consider when designing a dinner table. For a finished look, you don't necessarily have to go all out when it comes to each of these elements, but definitely be sure to ask your planner, caterer, venue coordinator, etc. about certain elements to make sure those florals you put so much thought into aren't ruined by the rest of the items composing your table.
1. I know I'm like a broken record when it comes to linens, but they are super important! They're the palette that is your wedding table design and make all of the difference in the world. For the wedding shown above, she wanted an earthy, organic vibe and for this reason we went with an ultra natural russian linen in a wheat color from Wildflower Linen. If you, on the other hand, are more into glamour, you might like a dupioni silk or another more luxurious linen.
2. But, before you can select linens, you need to decide what shape of table you prefer. Are you all about the intimacy of a long table? Or, are you more modern and prefer the edge of a square top? Maybe you are completely traditonal and like rounds? Or, maybe, just maybe, you aren't afraid to mix it up a bit and include some of each shape. No matter what, think about your preference before getting too far into your table design as it will dictate everything from your centerpiece style to linen sizes to how the tables fit into your venue.
3. Chairs are right up there with linens in my book. I know many people don't think they matter, but let me tell you, if you have the WRONG chair, they definitely matter. Chairs should blend in with your day, not stand out. So, spend a little time considering the right chair for your look. Oh, and yes, if the budget allows, coordinating chair pads like the ones shown at this event are so very lovely.
4. The centerpiece is a given and usually the first (and sometimes the only) thing couples think about but the centerpiece size, shape and composition is dependent on not only your style, but also the size and shape of the dinner table. For example, a single centerpiece can hold a round table table, but long tables almost always need multiple pieces. Also, I personally think a cluster of vessels also works best on a square table, but of course that's just a matter of personal preference and budget.
5. If you are hoping to put the favors at each place setting, I recommend thinking about their presentation a bit. Not that you shouldn't anyway, but a perfectly lovely dinner table can be tainted with an organza satchel filled with M&M's. For 99% of my weddings, I recommend the favors have their own special place in the reception near the exit, but if you want to see them on the dinner tables, think carefullly about the packaging and how they fit into the overall design.
6. Lighting on the dinner table is always important whether it is as simple as adding votive candles or a bit more complicated like pin spotting each centerpiece.Work with your planner, florist or lighting designer to come up with the best options for your dinner tables.
7. The napkin fold is one area that many couples don't think about. Here's my advice: When in doubt go with a flat fold. This isn't arts and crafts time and I doubt a swan, bird of paradise or any other shape is going to be a sophisticated touch to your dinner table. No matter what though, ask your caterer or venue coordinator how they typically fold the napkin and make sure you are okay with their suggestion.
8. The napkin treatment is one of my favorite touches. I just think it's a special treat for each guest when they sit down and, it, obviously, finishes the table. Fabric wraps, lace, twine, ribbons, fresh flowers, herbs, or even just a personalized dinner menu can all be sweet touches.
9. While many hotels or venues with on site catering might already have in house china, it's always good to ask what your options are to make sure they work with your look. If the in house options aren't the best choice, but you don't have a huge budget allocated for this area, you might just rent a charger or decorative plate for each place setting and use the in house china to actually serve the food on. When working at a private estate or another venue where you have to bring in all of your rentals, make some time to visit the rental show room to pick the perfect pattern for your table design.
10 & 11. Glassware and flatware is the same scenario as china. If your venue includes it, you may not want to allocate your budget to changing it up, but it's something to consider as you are planning the other details of your table top design.
12. The place card is just one final area that I like to give a little thought to. For this wedding we used pine cones as the place card holders and while you can't see it in this image, calligraphy is almost always a must in my book. For your day, a place card tied to the back of the chair or simply tucked into the napkin might be perfect, but no matter what give it a little bit of thought when choosing the presentation and placement of the place card.