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How to create the best wedding table decorations and centrepieces, according to an expert

Industry insiders share their tips and the best tableware to buy now

Sarah Young
Tuesday 25 May 2021 11:35
<p>Make a statement with colour schemes and styling details like napkins, candles and cutlery</p>

Make a statement with colour schemes and styling details like napkins, candles and cutlery

Whether your wedding venue is a blank canvas or already comes with a few extra frills, it’s likely that you’ll be looking for ways to make it feel more personal to you and your betrothed.

Just as we each have our own unique approach to dressing, the same idea can be applied to your big day, with everything from the invitations you send out to guests to your menu and choice of DJ reflecting who you are as a couple.

While there are many ways you can put your own stamp on things, one of the most effective involves decking out the place where people will gather and spend the majority of their time celebrating your marriage. No, not the bar, we’re talking about the dinner table.

Setting the table for dinner is, of course, a routine we are all familiar with. However, doing so for so many guests and such a momentous occasion requires a different level of vision, which we now refer to as tablescaping. But, how is it any different? Put simply, tablescaping is the art of dressing your table using everything from tablecloths, to napkins, plates, glasses, cutlery and candles to create a beautiful setting for your guests and, in the case of your nuptials, make it truly wedding-worthy.

Taking the concept of the wedding breakfast to new heights, a successful tablescape requires plenty of pre-planning and if you’re confused about where to start, we’ve got you covered. To help you celebrate your big day in style, we’ve consulted a series of industry insiders for their tips on curating an eye-catching set-up that’s guaranteed to have the wow factor, including a host of product recommendations you can snap up right now.

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Pick a theme

Whether your tables are round, square or rectangle, every one is going to need some form of decoration. But before you can decide on what to buy, it’s a good idea to have a theme in mind.

According to Alice Herbert, co-founder of rental tablescape service LAY London, the season that your wedding is happening in is a great place to start if you’re struggling for inspiration. “If you’re planning a summer wedding, you could opt for a ‘summer escape’ feel. We’ve previously taken inspiration from sunny St. Tropez with a chic blue and white palette. It’s fun to take your guests on a journey!”

Alternatively, Ellie Moore, founder of Dress for Dinner Tablescapes, recommends letting your décor be led by your favourite flower or those that happen to be in bloom a the time of your nuptials. “Meeting with your florist is probably the best starting point – have a browse on Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and chat to them about what is in season and your favourite colours and types of flower.

“The florist that we work closely with has also been asked to do a lot of boho wedding bouquets this year – they are stunning collections of dried grasses and flowers and can be carried over into the table decorations too. Things like feathers, grasses and dried lunaria create that ethereal, romantic feel.”

Tablecloths

A tablecloth is the perfect base for your dinner setting, which you can use to either inject the table with colour or keep it simple with a white one you can layer with bold accessories.

Rebecca Udall, founder of her eponymous homeware brand, suggests opting for the latter but looking for a tablecloth with added details like scalloped or frilled edges to add a “whimsical touch that’s perfect for a wedding”. One of her favourites is this ruffle tablecloth (£189, Rebeccaudall.com), which is made from European origin linen woven by a heritage Irish weaver for a super-soft, crisp look.

If you’d prefer a patterned option, Moore says Dress for Dinner’s brambleberry (£65, Dressfordinner.co.uk) and inca lily (£70, Dressfordinner.co.uk) cloths have proved incredibly popular with weddings this year, and it’s not hard to see why. While the former is decorated with blue and green hedgerow flowers, the latter weaves pink and blue flowers among baroque lattices with a soft aqua-grey border.

She adds that appliqué and embroidery are also making a comeback, something she attributes to people turning to the natural and nostalgic for comfort during the pandemic. “That has definitely crept into our interiors and wedding plans and I suspect homely, yet intricately pretty linens will be something we see a lot more of,” Moore says, recommending Etsy as a great source for vintage linens you won’t find anywhere else, including this French tablecloth and napkin set (£147.99, Etsy.com).

Napkins

When it comes napkins, Udall says matching them to your tablecloth is a failsafe move as it helps to make the table feel cohesive. However, she adds that, if your wedding budget allows, there are certain materials that are worth investing in over some others. “If you can afford to, prioritise natural fibres over polyester for your linens,” she says. “Linen is best followed by cotton.”

Opting for a bright and cheery setting? Udall loves these sunny yellow linen napkins (£15.99, Zarahome.com), which come in a pack of two and are adorned with white floral embroidery in one corner.

For something with a more personal touch, Moore recommends these vintage-inspired napkins (£27, Theembroiderednapkincompany.co.uk), which can be embroidered with floral monograms for each guest. Or, if you’re opting for a Bridgerton-inspired affair, snap up these luxurious ruffled napkins (£26, Dressfordinner.co.uk), which are made from 100 per cent French linen and come tied with a pretty bow.

Centrepieces

Centrepieces are a great way to give your setting a focal point but it’s important not to overwhelm a table by adding too many embellishments, as this could make guests feel restricted while they’re trying to tuck into food.

Moore suggests striking the perfect balance with floral displays using bud vases so you can have the best of both worlds, with plenty of blooms dotted around the centre of the table without it feeling overpowering. “Bud vases are so versatile and inexpensive and can now be found in all sorts of lovely shapes, sizes and colours, with coloured or textured glass very much on trend,” she says. “Our summer garden bud vase trio (£18, Dressfordinner.co.uk) are pink, green and yellow coloured glass for the prettiest dining. No wonder bud vases are proving so popular.”

Udall agrees, adding that flowers and candles would always be her go-to. “On round tables you can do high displays but on long tables, keep flowers and decorations below eye level,” she recommends. “For flowers, keep these to a budget by mixing in lots of foliage. I think this looks better than flowers alone anyway, as it adds variety and texture.” When it comes to candles, she says that swirl and twist styles like these tapered ones (£24, Rebeccaudall.com), which comes in a range of colours, have “a contemporary, informal feel and add a fun touch to your table”. We also love these marbled alternatives (£17, Laylondon.com), which are super-glossy and made by hand in Italy.

If you opt to incorporate candles into your setting, Herbert says it’s important to consider the holders you use too as these can be great for “adding height, drama and a banquet feel to the table is with candlesticks”.

“Pick a simple candleholder and with a colourful, glossy tall candle, and the table becomes infinitely more exciting,” she explains. “We love mixing up or alternating candle colours for a rainbow effect, glowing like jewels on the table.” Need some inspiration? Check out this green glass holder (£22, Cocolulu.co.uk), which is handmade from tinted glass and can also double up as a vase for dried and fresh flowers if need be.

Crockery

Tablescaping helps you create a setting that stands out from the crowd, so why settle for plates that you've seen a million times before? When it comes to crockery, Herbert recommends using colours that are joyful. “We often style flatware in alternating colours along the table, for a jewellery-box effect,” she says.

“Mixing and matching also comes in handy if you are short of a full set of any one thing.” For unique plates, she recommends this splatter design from Casa Cubista (£22, Libertylondon.com) or this lemon printed style (£47, Klevering.com) for a summery set-up.

Moore agrees, adding that weddings are moving away from the simple white plate to altogether more creative territory like these beautiful floral plates (£20, Amara.com), which promise to bring some floral fancy to your tables.

Glassware

When it comes glassware, Udall says using different types of glass for each drink can be a great way to add interest to a table. “You can mix and match styles across water, wine and flutes or keep them consistent depending on your style. I personally like water tumblers to have colour and some pattern as it adds more texture to the table,” she explains, recommending this hand-blown tumbler (£10, Anthropologie.com), which is made from recycled glass and features a painterly design in burnt orange.

If champagne is your drink of choice, it’s also worth considering investing in some coupes like this etched pair (£25, Dressfordinner), which Moore says are bestsellers. “Shows like The Pursuit of Love and our enduring affection for Gatsby themed events means they never go out of style for long,” she says.

Place mats

Creating the perfect wedding table is all about layering, so a placemat is a useful way to not only help ground a person’s setting at the table but also add some visual interest. Herbert says more rustic styles, like this woven set (£85, Thecolombiacollective.co.uk) make great alternatives to more formal charger plates. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider these red sapa placemats (£10, Conranshop.co.uk), which are handcrafted using seagrass by artisans in Vietnam using traditional weaving techniques.

Udall agrees, adding that woven placemats work well to “add texture and an informal feel”. Among her favourites are this natural-coloured set (£22, Laredoute.co.uk) and this colourful rattan style (£26, Anthropologie.com), which are available in a range of colours including moss green and ivory.

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Looking for some bridal outfit inspiration? Read our guide to the best looks for an intimate ceremony

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