Tabletop Trends

By Sharon Naylor

April 16, 2010 6 min read

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Set a gorgeous guest table

Sharon Naylor

A dream reception comprises color, and when those ballroom doors swing open, your guests, seating cards in hand, will be dazzled by the color and design of the guest tables. Centerpieces have long been the eye-catcher on tables, but now the trend is for the entire tabletop design to impress your guests, and with the inclusion of modern, unique place settings and stemware, you can make it look as if you spent a lot of money creating your tabletop look.

Keep in mind that the elements of your tabletop -- the plates, stemware, flatware and linens -- are right up close to your guests. They're touching them and using them -- not just looking at them from a distance, as they would other d?cor elements. So the details of each part of your tabletop design give you the opportunity to create the same kind of wow factor found at celebrity weddings and spotlight receptions seen in your favorite magazines.


Ask your site manager about the availability of different shapes and sizes of tables. Long tables allow for larger groups of guests to dine family-style and be extra-social.

*Table Linens

Add a splash of color to your long dinner table with a gorgeous table runner in place of traditional white linens. "Give your table that special wow factor by adding a table runner with beading, jewels, bold designs or texture," says Courtney Kern, founder and event coordinator at Events Beyond. Table runners in bold or pastel colors also can be used on traditional round tables, especially runners created from shimmery fabrics, which give a luminescence to tabletops centered or accented with candlelight.

As mentioned, the "usual" white tablecloths of yesteryear are being replaced by colorful tablecloths (and napkins), which you can request from your site's portfolio of shades or even bring in as rentals. According to The Wedding Report, the top trends in table linen colors are warm shades, as well as bright and bold shades, with 13.6 percent of couples choosing blue as their primary color scheme this season. According to Kern, the hot color combinations for weddings this year are turquoise and orange, navy and coral, yellow and gray, and pink and gray. Neutrals, such as gray and the ever-popular tan, play a large part in warming up color schemes for wedding design, and these colors now give depth and detail to tabletop design.

Karen Bussen, entertaining expert and author of seven books on weddings and entertainment, including "Simple Stunning Bride," says, "My recommendation is to choose three or fewer dominant colors on your tabletop to achieve the most powerful visual punch." Bussen says that fashionable black and white are back, with a strong accent color, such as fuchsia. "Sunset colors are still hot, and yellow is making more of an appearance in bouquets and receptions," Bussen says.

*The Well-Set Table

Bussen says that mixing china patterns for plates is a hot trend to give visual appeal, and colorful charger plates set beneath white or ivory plates are back for a punch of color to coordinate with table linens and the centerpieces. Reception site managers say that square plates create a modern, fun look, especially for afternoon formal weddings, and that uniquely shaped appetizer and salad plates, such as rounded triangles and ovals, are in demand.

Goblets with some color in their stems -- whether it be hot pink or elegant black -- add appeal to the lineup of stemware, and flatware with intricate swirled designs laser cut into the metal give the impression of higher-end place setting tableaux.

"Small details are hot, so add gold- or silver-edged dinnerware or drinkware," says Kern, who also suggests unique serving spoons and skewers for those specialty menu items. Specialty napkin rings also add unique detail to a place setting, and some brides even are crafting their napkin rings themselves, incorporating color and glued-on accents, such as crystals and gemstones or wedding-themed items, such as tiny silk butterflies.


"We are regularly designing variations on centerpieces that feature more candles and fewer blooms," Bussen says. "These glowing arrangements are romantic and budget-friendly." Kern agrees, suggesting lots of carefully placed clusters of colored candles.

Bussen completes your fabulous tabletop with one of her top secrets: "The more texture on the tabletop the simpler the color palette." And she adds that a retro-chic take on eclectic, vintage-inspired looks is a hot trend. "Lace is back, and I love it! Whether used as a full-length tablecloth, a topper or an accent on napkins or even the cake, lace is making a fashionable appearance at weddings."

And of course, brides and grooms encourage their guests to take fun and candid photos by placing disposable cameras at the center of each table. While this trend continues, a new trend has popped up. "This wedding season, it's all about the shoot-and-share Flip video camera," says Aaron Hall, founder and CEO of Weddzilla. "Weddings are social events, and the Flip video camera gives guests the ability to shoot and instantly share footage from your wedding on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. And it's so easy even Grandma can do it. Look for these at weddings everywhere in summer."

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