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Wedding Linens – How to Best Dress Your Tables

Brides spend a lot of time making decisions about details of their wedding day, and some put a particularly extensive amount of thought on the linens for their reception tables. Besides uplighting and fabric swags there is no single item that makes a greater impact on the look of your reception than your table linens. So what do you choose? The standard white or ivory offered at your venue? Or do you spend the money to upgrade to a certain color, fabric, or specialty runner or overlay? At anywhere from $20-50 per table the choice to upgrade is certainly important to your budget. So here are a few examples of linen choices and the reasons behind the decisions that were made.

This chocolate brown tablecloth was the perfect ‘neutral’ backdrop for the pop of the Tiffany blue napkins. Add in the gold Chivari chairs and the look is modern, fun, and exactly the look this bride and groom envisioned.

Here is another chocolate brown tablecloth but this couple was having a fall themed event so we went with the golds, coppers, and orange colors as accents. To save on costs a copper runner was placed down the middle of the table to focus guests’ eyes to the centerpiece and to add the added accent color to the table. Runners are usually much less expensive than an overlay or a full floor length linen which makes it a great option for couples who want to add some pops of color without breaking the bank.

Here is another runner, this time going down the center of a long dining table. This runner is of a specialty fabric with diamond shaped patterns sewn in, and the small brown colors in the runner match the chocolate brown napkins at each place setting. This couple was going for a very earthy and nature-inspired look so the caterer continued this theme and rolled the napkins up to look like fiddleheads. To complete the look, on the tables were also boxes of wheat grass, copper lanterns, polished rocks, and locally grown wild flowers.

Speaking of overlays, here is an example of a sheer beaded overlay on lop of a floor length beige tablecloth. I am a personal fan of using overlays because I feel that the multiple layers of fabric looks luxurious and extra fancy. Overlays give a special effect of having one color or fabric type on the tabletop while still showing the base fabric towards the bottom of the table. Overlays are usually square, although they can come in rounds, and vary in size. The smaller ones, as seen in this photo, cover just the top of the table, while longer overlays can go almost down to the floor.

Colors evoke emotion, and here is a great example of how your linens can really make a color impact on the room. Even though this is a close up shot of the table you can see how dramatic this lovely coral/pink silk tablecloth is. The fabric actually had several tones of pink and coral in it, which were exactly the colors used in other accents around the space. This reception was in an open air tent, and as the breeze came through the fabric moved and was able to beautifully shimmer all of the various colors. The crisp white napkins and china look classically elegant and the simple round blooms in the centerpiece tie in the primary and accent colors of the day. Looking across the room all of the tables shined in their pink tones and set a very sweet and elegant mood for the evening’s events.

Here is another floor length tablecloth with some interested features in the fabric. If you look to the left side of the photo you can see the grid pattern sewn into this fabric, called pintuck. This pattern, along with the crushed look of the cloth, gives texture and adds interest to the linen. This fabric also has a two toned looked, and in some lights appeared brown while other times looked coppery. This was a fall wedding with many shades of reds, golds, and pinks used, and this neutral toned linen was the perfect backdrop to let all of the other colors shine.

Of course there is nothing wrong with sticking with the basics! This couple chose a white floor length linen for their tables to keep with their classic and timeless overall look. Instead of putting focus on a colored linen they chose to use other elements in the room to give tone and character. The gold Chivari chairs matched perfectly with the antique gold urns and the gold trimmed table numbers. With a room that has soft warm tones in the paint and the trim they kept their table colors muted to truly highlight the beauty of the architecture surrounding them.

Here is another example of how white linen can be the perfect choice when creating an overall reception room look. Obviously these two were going for a black and white theme and instead of focusing on linens we brought in this amazing black and white checkered floor and set up the rest of the design elements to highlight it. Crisp white tablecloths and napkins, black menu cards, dark Chivari chairs, and soft muted floral arrangements allowed for the floor to really be the standout feature in the room. This is a great example of how less really can be more.

And lastly I wanted to show a linen that is simple but very dramatic. This tablecloth is quite possibly the most expensive fabric any of my couples has ever used. Thin ribbon was hand sewn onto the base layer to create small, identical, flower patterns. The fabric itself was thick and heavy and was certainly a conversation piece when the guests sat in front of it. This couple went for a very eclectic design look, bringing in natural earthy elements as well as global influences such as Moroccan votives and antique silver vases. There are few linen choices that could tie together all of the different styles happening on this table, and this gorgeous gem of a fabric did just that.

So what linen choices will you make??

(Photos from top to bottom: Shannon DeCelle Photography, Tracey Buyce Photography, Heather Bohm-Tallman Photography, Tracey Buyce Photograhy, John Seakwood Photography, Tracey Buyce Photography, Rob Spring Photography, Elario Photography, Tracey Buyce Photography, Belathee Photography)

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