Personalized embroidery can be pricey, so give the ole bleach-pen treatment to 16-by-16-inch napkins from The Scarlet Thread, which makes them for $1 each plus the cost of fabric. For crisp, clean lettering, use a stencil (tons are available at stencilplanet.com) and, if desired, painterâ€™s tape for a border.
Weddings are full of flowers, but sometimes the littlest arrangements make the biggest impact: Guests will be delighted to find cut flowers tucked into their napkins. To keep the blooms from wilting during the cocktail hour, slip the stems into little vials of water (available at floral shops).
To fold the napkin, lay it on a flat surface, and fold in half widthwise so the folded edge is near you. Fold the top layer back down halfway. Turn the napkin over, and fold the edges into the center. Finish by folding the napkin in half.
Have wine bottles do double-duty as table numbers. Cover-weight paper printed with large, graphic numerals can be adhered over existing labels with double-sided tape for a clean, contemporary look. It's a clever touch that will have guests drinking to your good fortune -- and your good taste.
Cotton-linen table runner with black-and-white floral pattern, Anthropologie.
For a twist on silverware rolled in a napkin, package utensils at a buffet in printed 9 1/2-by-4-inch envelopes. Rubber Stamp Champ will create a custom stamp from any black-and-white image (or ask for our cutlery design). Purchase an ink pad and envelopes, and get ready to make an impression.
Here's a quick and inexpensive way to add style to your reception space: Use gift-wrap runners. Trim paper to any width; it should hang 18 inches over table ends. Cover tops of favor boxes with the same paper. Wrap ribbon around box, and secure ends beneath place cards. Attach cards and ribbon to box lid with double-sided tape.
Used with a ruler, this handy implement (available at art-supply and craft stores) lets you quickly cut long, straight lines through paper or fabric. It's ideal for projects that call for lots of even cutting, such as the table runners and box tops above. Place paper on a self-healing mat to protect your work surface.
Fabric flowers make a pretty, wilt-proof way for guests to find their seats and then sport as corsages or boutonnieres. Simply use floral tape to attach a brooch pin to the stem of a fabric flower (these are from Dulken & Derrick). Have a calligrapher pen names onto strips of card stock, then punch small holes on one end, and slip pins through.
Ripe apricots become place cards at a summertime wedding or shower. Write names on strips of thin art paper; use a pencil to curl ends in opposite directions. Hang paper from bamboo toothpicks (available from kitchen-supply stores) inserted through apricot tops.
Harvest baskets filled with peaches, nectarines, and Gala apples also make for an abundant, economical centerpiece; stuff basket bottoms with kraft paper, and pile fruit on top. For table number, glue a basswood stake between two basswood rectangles.
A runner made with crepe paper is a terrific low-cost decoration for square or rectangular tables; all it takes are two pieces in coordinating hues and a pinch of effort. You'll need crepe paper on rolls, since they don't have fold lines; we used rolls 20 inches wide.
Make graceful holders with swirls that enhance a card's design. These are actually pieces of inexpensive radio wire -- cloth-covered wire, used in vintage radios, that is available online in a variety of colors (look for solid, not stranded, wire). Give it a new twist for a wedding, and it can hold aloft menus, table numbers, or place cards. The wire bends easily and is sturdy enough to keep its shape. The shorter stands rest on a table, and the tall version can be placed in a centerpiece. Copy our designs or create your own.
Help your reception take flight with floating escort cards that double as centerpieces once guests find their tables. On your wedding day, have a few friends fill 5-inch white balloons with helium (you can rent a tank from a party store). Once they're inflated, add guests' names and table numbers with a paint pen, tie on matching embroidery thread, and secure them to favor boxes filled with candy. Write on both sides of the balloons so loved ones can locate their names from every angle.