Decorating the reception tables is one of our favorite parts of the wedding design process because the creativity put into the table settings and wedding centerpieces are the design details that guests will most remember. The reception table is where your guests will sit down to break bread with each other and enjoy the remainder of the happy wedding festivities.
When it comes time to “set the table” the key to remember when designing a centerpiece is balance.
The 4 best design tips for wedding centerpieces
How many tables do I need and what shape are they?
The first consideration when designing centerpieces is to determine how many you need and what types of tables they will be on. Long rectangular tables typically have a runner with several centerpieces placed down the length of the table. Small, usually round, tables for smaller groups of guests will have one main centerpiece.
What’s my budget?
While some brides enjoy the creative DIY process, it can also get pricey if you don’t know where to buy bulk supplies. Working with a vendor will take away the stress of building centerpieces on your own and you’ll know the cost upfront. A typical budget is $30-$60 per each professionally made wedding centerpiece.
How tall should the centerpiece be?
The overall size of the room will help to determine the height of the centerpiece. Small round centerpieces will get lost in a reception hall with tall ceilings. Large full centerpieces will overpower the space in a small venue. Finding the right balance for your reception tables is important. Here’s a tip: Choosing centerpieces that are “chin height” elevates your guests’ conversations to just the right volume signaling to the room that you are all having a great time! The opposite effect will occur with a tall overhanging centerpiece. It brings a little more intimacy and signals your guests to keep their voices at a lower volume.
What color should I pick for my wedding centerpiece?
By the time you are designing the centerpiece for your reception you should already have a strong sense of the color palette. Your color choices should be consistent with your overall theme. Already have your theme in mind? Check out these centerpiece ideas from the Wedding Wire for a variety of themed centerpieces.
When you have your overall wedding theme and concept for the table setting the next step is to determine how to arrange the elements on the table. To keep position on the table anchor the centerpiece with a base like stacked books, a tray, or a piece of wood.From here you can add just about anything to create your arrangement unique; consider candles, vases, greenery, shells, stones, photos, lanterns, or seasonal fruit and vegetables.Finally, delicate accents can easily bring the look together without over doing it. Use fuller bouquets to bring weight to a massive venue. Or go light with a few thin stems in a clear vase. Remember the key is balance.
It’s Thanksgiving and across the country we’ll all be sitting down with friends and family to enjoy some fine family cooking! Inline with this festive spirit we pulled together this guide, featuring the etiquette experts of The Emily Post Institute, on how to appropriately create a dinner table setting for multi-course formal dinners.Basic table setting rules:
Knife blades should always face cutting edge toward the plate.
Bread and butter plate goes on the left and drinkware on the right.
Napkins should be placed on the left of the fork or on the plate. In a formal table setting they are usually placed in a decorative manner on the charger plate.
Everything is placed in threes or less with the exception of adding an oyster fork to the setting. If there are more than three courses the utensils will be brought out with their corresponding plate or bowl.
Dessert utensils are placed on the table just before dessert is served.
How to set a formal dining table
A formal table setting is used for meals with multiple courses; typically more than three. If you are serving three or more courses you’ll likely have a vendor handling all these details for you, but you’ll still want to sit down to review and approve the place setting and design.
"(a) Service Plate: This large plate, also called a charger, serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course, which will be brought to the table. When the first course is cleared, the service plate remains in place for any other courses, such as a soup course, until the plate holding the entrée is served, at which point the two plates are exchanged. The charger may serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entrée.
(b) Butter Plate: The small butter plate is placed above the forks at the left of the place setting."
"(c) Dinner Fork: The largest of the forks, also called the place fork, is placed on the left of the plate. Other smaller forks for other courses are arranged to the left or right of the dinner fork, according to when they will be used.
(d) Fish Fork: If there is a fish course, this small fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork because it is the first fork used.
(e) Salad Fork: If the salad is served after the entrée, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork."
"(f) Dinner Knife: The large dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.
(g) Fish Knife: The specially shaped fish knife goes to the right of the dinner knife.
(h) Salad Knife (Note: there is no salad knife in the illustration): If used, according to the above menu, it would be placed to the left of the dinner knife, next to the dinner plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the knives would be arranged (left to right): dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife."
"(i) Soup Spoon or Fruit Spoon: If soup or fruit is served as a first course, then the accompanying spoon goes to the right of the knives.
(j) Oyster Fork: If shellfish are to be served, the oyster fork goes to the right of the spoons. Note: It is the only fork ever placed on the right of the plate.
(k) Butter Knife: The small spreader is placed diagonally on top of the butter plate, handle on the right and blade down."
Drinkware and Napkins
"(l) Glasses: These are placed on the right, above the knives and spoons. They can number up to five and are placed in the order they will be used. When there are more than three glasses, they can be arranged with smaller glasses in front. The water goblet (la) is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right are placed a red (lc) or white (ld) wine glass. A sherry glass or champagne flute (le), to accompany a first course or for an opening toast, go to the right of the wine glasses. Glasses used for a particular course are removed at the end of the course.
(m) Napkin: The napkin is placed on top of the charger (if one is used) or in the space for the plate. It can also go to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space is tight."
Every wedding is typically split between two things: the actual wedding and the reception. Before you get dizzy with the details of planning the wedding ceremony and dinner reception of your dreams, don’t forget to consider the basics! Like, what tables do you actually need for your reception? Many wedding venues have the tables you’ll need. If your venue does not provide rentals like tables, chairs, and linens, or you would like more options, you'll need to hire a rental company about six months prior to the big day. There's actually a lot of things to consider when ordering tables. You’ll want to coordinate with your vendors, like the florist and caterers, to plan the tables you’ll need.
What are the most important reception tables at a wedding?:
The Guestbook Table:
As your guests arrive you’ll need a table for the guestbook for your loved ones to sign in and pick up their escort card. This is an important table as it helps with the organization of the event and creates a keepsake.
The Gift Table:
A table for all the generous gifts from your friends and family.
The Memory Table:
Not everyone has this one, but adding this as one of your reception tables is a beautiful way for everyone to cherish their loved ones who have passed away.
The Head Table:
The head table is where you and your spouse and potentially immediate family members or the bridal party will sit.
The Guest Table:
You will have many of these. The guest tables are where your friends and family will sit and enjoy dinner and the reception program.
The Food Table:
Make sure you plan enough space for the food table. This is where all your guests will be able to pick up their food.
The Drink Table:
Alcohol or not, you’ll still want to set up a bar table for people to order their drinks. If you are having a cocktail hour, you’ll also need to order some cocktail tables!
The Cake Table:
Often the centerpiece of the reception, you’ll need a small table for the cake and desserts.
The DJ Table:
Coordinate with your DJ or musicians to determine the best setup. This isn't necessarily one of the reception tables you'll use for ambiance, but you also don't need a cheesy prom set up either.