Wedding decoration: Table decorating ideas for a classic wedding
Classic ideas for table decorating in a fairy tale wedding, with some great tips for dealing with hall renters.
When you’re planning a wedding, not only will you need to choose the bridesmaids’ dresses, flowers for the altar, and pew bows for the church, you will also need to decide how your reception hall will look when guests begin to arrive after you’ve exchanged vows.
No one wants to walk into a banquet hall that’s stark or boring, with blank walls, blank tables, and a bland wedding cake in the corner. Lovely table decorations will enhance the mood at a reception and will carry the festive mood through dinner, dessert, coffee and dancing until dawn.
You’ll want the scene to capture the romance of the day. To do that, not only should the bridal table be decorated, but each guest table should be decorated to match the bridal décor. Even if it’s a totally white wedding, there should be a splash of color. If the bride’s attendants are wearing one color, that should be the continuing theme for the reception hall. If each attendant wears a different color, then decorating will be a little easier, with more hues to work with.
For a very formal wedding, a beautiful guest table should be round, large enough to hold eight to ten people, with a white table cloth. A lovely centerpiece could consist of a square mirror, about twelve inches per side, as the base for two dove candleholders, white ceramic with mother-of-pearl accent, each holding a tall white candle. Also, in front of each place setting you could have a smaller dove favor, which you could fill with Jordan almonds inside of white netting and tied with a bow, or pastel mints. Silver or pastel confetti could be sprinkled over the table. When the centerpiece candles are lit, the reflection in the mirror, accompanied with the sheen of the mother-of-pearl, makes a very tasteful and memorable impression.
If you are short on cash, you could make these. Ceramics classes are very popular, and perhaps friends or relatives of the bride could make the doves as a gift. Gare ceramic mold company offers several bridal ceramic molds, and if your studio didn’t stock them, they could order them for you. Cleaning, painting, glazing, and then mother-of-pearling ceramic doves is very time-consuming, however, so give yourself six months or a year to make them so you won’t have to hurry. The cost could be cut as much as 75% by doing them yourself. If you know an individual who owns a kiln, maybe you could make a deal with him/her to make them for you.
For a less formal wedding, each table could be decorated with a floral centerpiece, in the same color scheme as the attendants’ bouquets. If you use real flowers, a tall white candle in the center, to be lit when the lights are dimmed, would be lovely. If you use silk flowers, the candle could burn down and set them on fire, so take that warning into consideration. Place settings could feature organdy draw-string bags filled with potpourri for each guest to take home. The bags would be a nice wedding souvenir and add a special scent to any room in the house. The bags should be the colors of the attendants’ dresses, and the potpourri also that shade. Corresponding confetti could be sprinkled on the tables, and colored Hershey’s kisses strategically placed on each one. Coming in pastel shades, dark purple, silver and gold, the kisses are a nice touch. Also, hungry guests can munch down on them while waiting for dinner to be served. The kisses theme can be spread to the cake table, and people walking over to admire the cake can grab a candy while looking.
Napkins should also reflect the colors of the wedding party. Everything should be drawn together in one main theme. You don’t want to see bridesmaids wearing lavender gowns sitting behind orange decorations. That would never do.
The bride’s table should have a large floral centerpiece directly in the middle, in front of the bride and groom, but it should be low so everyone in the reception hall can see the couple. The bridesmaids’ bouquets should rest on the table in front of each attendant, and the centerpiece should be of the same flowers as the bouquets. There are also bouquet holders, which fit over the edge of the tables, and the bouquets rest in them. These, of course, are a little more expensive. What you decide depends on your wedding budget.
Many people enjoy balloons at the wedding. Helium machines can be inexpensively purchased at most department and specialty stores; and balloons, once again, should be in the same colors as the wedding party’s dresses. Some brides put balloon centerpieces on each guest table, and have a large balloon extravaganza in the middle of the dance floor, with more balloons held high in netting above the piece. When the bride and groom have their first dance, a string is pulled, the netting gives way, with balloons of all sizes floating down around them as they dance.
Lots of people are needed to help decorate a hall with balloons, and unless a bride can find someone not in the wedding party to decorate the day of the wedding, the balloons will have to be set up the night before. Although they make a festive scene, it can be disconcerting when the dancing begins, and people begin to break the balloons and stomp on them, and the reception sounds more like a firing range than a wedding party. But if balloons are your thing, go for it.
If you are renting a hall, be sure to see what is included when you are paying your deposit. Some halls do not include table cloths. Some charge more for round tables than for oblong ones. Some try to squeeze as many people as possible around one table, making it uncomfortable for people to eat, with one person’s eating arm bobbing into their neighbor’s relaxed arm each time they take a mouthful of food. Ask how many people are seated at a table, and if it seems extreme, request extra tables for the guests’ comfort. Although it’s the bride’s day, the bride wants guests to have a good time at the wedding, not to remember it as crowded and uncomfortable. Also, because it is the bride’s day, inquire about janitorial services. Some make the wedding party clean up after the reception ends, and some include the cleanup in their rental costs.
In addition to making sure there are enough tables to seat everyone, insist there be two extra square or rectangular tables – one for the cake and one for the gifts. And you may need two for the sound system also. Check with your music people how many tables they might need. If it’s a live band, you won’t have to worry about tables, but you’ll need to know where they will be located and have your tables moved accordingly around a dance floor. Generally a banquet hall does this, but if you are renting a fire hall or union hall, this might not be considered.
You might also need another table right inside the entrance to the hall, with instructions for guests about table assignments. You can do this on matchbooks, place cards, or even small picture frames, about two by three inches, with the guest’s name and table number written down.
Why would you want to assign seats? You want to make sure people who know each other can sit together, so they will be comfortable. If you have 200 relatives coming and ten co-workers, you want to make sure the co-workers can sit together, and if one of them comes late they won’t be stuck sitting with the black sheep of the family. Also, when going over the final guest list, you may realize that there are folks who don’t care for others who are coming. This happens many times when there are divided families. Perhaps Aunt Susie doesn’t care for her ex-husband, Uncle Pete, but the bride loves them both and wants them both there. In that case, better to be safe than sorry. Create a chart of who will sit where, and buy little card holders for each table, which hold a number. Aunt Susie will see she is sitting at table number three, while Uncle Pete will be at table number seven. And never the twain shall meet.
Table place card holders are inexpensive and can be very beautiful. For slightly more than a dollar, you can find little flower pots filled with silk roses, and in the center a holder for the table number. These can substitute for a centerpiece if you are on a budget.
There are many ways to decorate your wedding table, and you will choose what you think is right. To get ideas of the various decorations available, visit a party store. There are many of them in malls across the country, and some of them show actual place settings to give you ideas. As long as the table matches the color scheme, or the white is accented with a touch of silver or gold for an all-white wedding, there will be no problem.
And when you’ve finished decorating the hall, you will find your tables looking so beautiful you will have to take a photo for the bridal book, preserving forever the memory of a perfect reception hall and how it looked before the guests arrived.