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How to Set the Perfect Reception Table

The little details count the most on the big day.

Contributing Writer
turks and caicos shoot erich mcvey tablescape blue plates florals
Photography by: Erich McVey

You may have spent more time focusing on the food you want to serve on your wedding day than the plates you'll serve it on, but taking the time to put together a gorgeous tablescape can impact the entire look and feel of your wedding reception. Whether you're considering a formal white china with elegant accents or a more modern set of ceramic plates with contrasting flatware, the pieces you choose for your table—from linens and glassware to flowers and candleholders—will set the tone for your post-ceremony gathering.

 

"Your wedding should be a reflection of who you are as a couple on your most special day of your lives," says Diana Perrin, owner of Casa de Perrin, a luxury tabletop brand and rental company. And that means following your own personal style—not a prescribed set of rules. "There is no wrong combination of materials and styles when it comes to your wedding tables," she adds.

 

Start planning your perfect table by considering the style of your reception and your menu. If you've decided on a formal, multi-course meal, the place setting will most likely include a full complement of dishes, flatware, and glassware—including chargers, dinner plates, and bread plates; forks, knives, and spoons for each course; and glasses for water, red wine, white wine, and Champagne. A more informal meal with fewer courses will require a smaller place setting—likely only a decorative charger, flatware for a salad and entrée, and a water glass paired with an all-purpose wine glass.

 

Related: Set the Table (and the Tone!) for Your Wedding With These Expert Tips

 

Whether you choose a charger, napkin, or fork first is up to you: Perrin suggests coordinating your overall tablescape around one item that you really love. "To have a balanced table, you should pick a statement piece and build the rest of the design around those pieces," says Perrin. "Lots of couples will fall in love with a charger plate or a flatware line and then choose their linen selection in a way where it doesn't clash or compete with the design of the plate."

 

The colors and patterns you choose for your place setting can also work with the rest of your table accents. Gold or silver flatware provides you with a metallic accent color that you can integrate into everything from votive holders to menu design, and a favorite dish can even inform your centerpieces. "Inspired by a peachy-colored plate? Ask your florist to incorporate a flower choice that closely matches," says Perrin. "Long, low arrangements pair particularly well with more informal settings, and large, high, over-the-top centerpieces lend themselves to more formal table settings."

 

And while your planner or rental contact may have suggestions for pairing specific items, don't be afraid to make your place setting your own. "We have seen some of the most beautiful and unexpected combinations of colors, materials, metallic accents, and glassware choices come from our creative couples," says Perrin. "You can mix gold and wood, ceramic and porcelain, even modern and vintage elements to create a beautiful table that speaks to your aesthetic as a couple."