Heather Bien

writing and designing a colorful life

Selecting a Wedding Day Place Setting

With an intimate wedding that will have us sitting for several hours at a multi-course dinner, the table setting will be one of the most important aspects in setting the tone for the evening. Our venue has a standard setting that's fine – and we'll likely use some pieces from it – but overall I know that I want something a bit more special for our big day.


DISCOVERING INSPIRATION


Since I'm not someone who specializes in tablescapes (for that, head over to my friend Stephanie's blog, Magnolia Stripes), I was starting from scratch in finding inspiration and ideas for a black tie winter wedding tablescape. I knew the general look I'm hoping to achieve – glamorous, intimate, sparkly, and wintery – and the color palette – ivory, gold, navy, evergreen, and sage – but how to achieve that? Not so sure.

My first stop was Pinterest, where I searched everything from "winter wedding table" to "navy winter wedding palette" in an attempt to find a few ideas that might work with this abstract dream I had in my head. After many searches and a handful of pins, I started to see a cohesive look come together. Again and again, I was gravitating towards gold flatware, gold chargers, detailed wine glasses, and evergreen garland running down the middle of the table – all set against either a dark navy tablecloth or a farm table. Then, I took to WeddingWire's Ideas page to find some specific tips on how to nail your wedding tablescape. With images for inspiration and specifics on what I needed in my tablescape, I was ready to start making my vision a reality.



HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR PLACE SETTING LOOK


So, how did I come up the look I was going for after looking through pages of pins? As I said, I knew I want to create an ambiance that is glamorous, intimate, sparkly, and wintery and working within a palette of ivory, gold, navy, evergreen, and sage – the evergreen and sage are coming through in the plentiful greenery that will adorn the table. But, there's more to deciding on a tablescape than just picking a look and going for it. There are several key players to consider:

  • Location: Is your wedding in a barn or a ballroom? An urban rooftop or a countryside garden? If your wedding is in a rustic chic venue, you're probably not going to opt for the modern glam tablescape. With our wedding being held at a vineyard, there's room for flexibility in its look, but you always want to consider whether your venue commands a certain ambiance.
  • Time of Day: A black tablecloth, sleek gold flatware, and a sequin runner will look fabulous, but probably not so much for a noon brunch wedding. Same goes for mismatched vintage floral plates and milk glass vases in the evening. Coordinate your look with the time of day.  
  • Vibe: We absolutely loved a set of clean lined, modern flatware, but while that may be our vibe in every day life, that's not the vibe of our wedding. It seemed out of place with the rest of the tablescape. Pick a vibe and keep it consistent through every detail.
  • Menu: You can definitely serve barbecue on fine china and glass chargers, but will something seem just a bit off? Perhaps. If your menu is casual, keep your table settings similarly relaxed. And, if your menu is gourmet and artfully plated, elevate your settings accordingly.  

Once you have considered each of these, circle back to what you first envisioned when planning your wedding. What were a few of the keywords that jumped out to you? Were you thinking boho? Garden party? Urban glam? Southern classic? What about the colors? Now, how can you merge the look you love, the colors you gravitate towards, and your location, time of day, vibe, and menu?



FINDING A VENDOR


This is an area where I definitely needed all the help I could get! Finding a rental company for table settings and event decor is not exactly something I do on a regular basis (as in never), so I needed to leave it the professionals. I consulted WeddingWire's Vendors page where I could easily look up Event Rentals vendors in the Charlottesville, VA area and surrounding areas.

I decided on MS Events after reading through pages of positive reviews, checking out their pricing online, and emailing back and forth with their staff. I set up an appointment for the next time I had plans to go down to Charlottesville, and Adam and I spent a morning in their showroom trying out a hundred different options of place settings, linens, flatware, and glassware. Adam had stronger opinions than either of us expected, and now we've found ourselves torn between the navy tablecloth vision I went in with and the (more expensive) farm table option. Luckily, we still have time to decide...



WHAT YOU'LL NEED


I've talked vaguely about the process of finding inspiration, identifying a look, and finding a vendor, but what exactly will you need to choose when selecting a place setting for your wedding? Go in to your appointment with the rental company with your look nailed down, your Pinterest board ready, and your exact colors in mind – but also prepare to be flexible. You never know what might catch your eye! Now, the pieces you'll need to look at:

  • Charger: Start with a charger. This is the biggest piece in the setting and what sets the foundation for the entire look.
  • China: Will you go for classic white or mix it up with a gorgeous pattern?
  • Flatware: There are options from sleek to ornate, silver to gold.
  • Glassware: It's crazy how many gorgeous glassware options there are! Consider water glasses, white and red wine glasses, and champagne flutes. You can get creative with mixing and matching.
  • Napkins: Somehow this might have been the toughest item to select. There just wasn't a great color with the dark navy silk tablecloth we liked, but we found one that works well enough.
  • Tablecloth: I didn't realize what a big difference varying fabrics would have even within the same color family. I went from assuming we'd do the cheap cotton linens to realizing anything besides silk just wasn't right for our look – and the price difference is only like $15. Don't forget a tablecloth pad to go underneath.
  • Table: We're deciding whether to use the tables on site at our venue with linens or to rent farm tables. 
  • Chairs: Fortunately our venue has chivari chairs that will be fine for our wedding, but there are so many different chairs you can choose from. If budget wasn't an issue, I'd totally do Louis XVI upholstered chairs. Really, I'd love ghost chairs, but those just aren't practical for sitting for hours.
  • Other: There are endless items you can rent to dress up your tablescape. Cake stands, cake knives, salt and pepper shakers, 



PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER


Once you've selected all of your place setting pieces, it's back to your Pinterest page and the WeddingWire Ideas page to pull it all together. Look at articles on weddings in your season and in the look you're going for. Study photo shoots from real weddings. What's working on their tablescape and what isn't?

You'll pull together the look with centerpieces, candles, and other smaller details like menus and place cards. For example, the navy from our tablecloth will be pulled in through those paper pieces, which will feature a classic navy and white stripe with gold writing, and through juniper berries that will be sprinkled throughout the garland running down the center of the table. Gold will make in appearance in candlesticks, and ivory flowers will dot the evergreen arrangements. With some thought, planning, and lots of paying attention to the details, your wedding day table setting will set the tone and ambiance for a special meal with your loved ones. 




Thank you so much to WeddingWire for partnering with me on this post! I'm excited to continue to work with WeddingWire throughout my wedding planning process and to share it all with you, my wonderful readers!

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