May 20, 2019

Ultimate Guide To A Wedding Tablescape

Posted in: Tips and Tricks, WEDDINGS

woman setting table

When a bride is planning her big day, she mainly focuses on the big picture, and that is great! It is my job as a coordinator to further educate my clients. The old saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” One area of confusion I see is what a guest dining table will look like. Often, clients see beautifully curated tables, usually from a photo shoot. Then, unfortunately not know what to expect when it comes to their wedding day. In an effort to avoid this, I have put together several examples of what a “typical” guest dining table could look like.

Please keep in mind that each wedding is unique and beautiful. Some weddings are very elaborate and others are very minimalistic. One style is not better than another. Both can be beautiful, just different. I recently worked with an insanely talented group of women (Joy, Nichole, Sandy and Nicole) to create mock table scapes to educate clients on what wedding tables might *actually* look like. Ladies, without your help, none of this would be possible! I am inspired by you daily. Thank you!

Family Style Dinner Service

family style wedding reception it is important to keep in mind the "extra" platters that will be placed on the table. There needs to be room to accommodate platters of food, bread/butter plates, bread baskets and salt/pepper shaker.

Family Style Dinner. Please note the large white platter and bowl. The following items are featured on this table: Water glass, red and white wine glass, champagne flute, flatware, decorative charger, dinner plate, salad plate, menu, bread plate, centerpiece, candles, bread basket, salt/pepper shaker, napkin and place card. (not featured, butter knife)

Often, family style (in my honest opinion) can become quite cluttered. Every guest should have adequate silverware, stemware and china available with enough room to eat.

*Pro Tip: there are ways to eliminate items from a table. Providing each guest with one dinner roll is a great way to eliminate a bread basket. Talk to your caterer or planner about ways to save space!

Plated Style Dinner Service

A plated meal is the most frequent dinner service done at weddings today. It lends for an elegant presentation and guests truly get the royal treatment. This image features lovely silver and lavender linens with bright orange and pink flowers

This is an example of a Plated Style Dinner (with charger). The following items are featured on this table: Water glass, red and white wine glass, champagne flute, flatware, decorative charger, napkin, menu, bread plate, centerpiece, candles, bread basket, salt/pepper shaker and place card. (not featured, butter knife)

A plated meal is the most frequent dinner service done at weddings today. It lends for an elegant presentation and guests truly get the royal treatment. Any type of centerpiece is okay for this style of dinner service. Most people like either a tall centerpiece or something very low so guests can see each other across the table. Something at eye level is not an ideal height. Guests might try and remove the centerpiece all together if they can not see their table mates!

A plated meal is the most frequent dinner service done at weddings today. It lends for an elegant presentation and guests truly get the royal treatment.

This is an example of a Plated Style Dinner (without charger). The following items are featured on this table: Water glass, red and white wine glass, champagne flute, flatware, napkin, menu, bread plate, centerpiece, candles, bread basket, salt/pepper shaker and place card. (not featured, butter knife)

 

examples of the most common table set up. plated dinner with flowers, candles and chargers

Close up of the two most common types of plated dinner service. With and without a decorative charger. (not featured, butter knife)

*Pro Tip: if you are offering meal selections (chicken, beef, vegetarian) then make sure you clearly label what each guest will be getting on their escort or place card. To learn the difference between the two, click here.

Buffet Style Dinner Service

Buffet receptions are actually making a come back at some trendy wedding venues! Long ago was an idea that buffets were "cheaper" than a plated meal is in reality not the case.

Buffet Style Dinner (with charger). The following items are featured on this table: Water glass, red and white wine glass, champagne flute, flatware, decorative charger, napkin, menu, bread plate, centerpiece, candles, bread basket, salt/pepper shaker and place card. (not featured, butter knife)

Buffet receptions are actually making a come back at some trendy wedding venues! Long ago was an idea that buffets were “cheaper” than a plated meal is in reality not the case. While it may come across as more casual than a formal plated meal, the cost per person is in most cases the same as a plated meal. Caterers can portion out a plated meal ex. 130 guests, 130 chicken breasts. However, with a buffet, some guests might take 2 chicken breasts thus, leading to an increase in cost.

*Pro Tip: A good caterer will always have a % overage to allow for guests to serve themselves or go back for a second helping.

Final Note

The items used in the photos above are examples. Other pieces can/may be added or removed for each specific wedding or event need. Menus are a great way to inform your guests of the culinary experience they are about to have. Menus also provide an extra detail for your guests to enjoy.  If you need further guidance or need other great reasons to hire a wedding planner, click here. If you are losing your mental sanity, click here and send me a note. I would love to chat.


For the complete list of the uber talented women who helped bring this educational content to life, check out their work!

Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Photography: Being Joy Photography
Floral: XO Design Co
Paper Goods: Emery Ann Design
(For a great resource on when to send out invites, click here!)
Rentals: Marquee Event Rentals
Venue: Fairlie Chicago

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