The Ultimate Wedding Table Decoration Guide

wedding table decoration guide

Great wedding entertainment. Check.

Mouth watering, delicious wedding food. Check.

Luxurious wedding table decorations (what this guide is about). Check.

All this plus a happy couple equals a wedding you and your guests will fondly remember for a long time.

Now, on with the guide.

About This Guide

Thank you for taking the time to read this guide. Our goal is to highlight the benefits of designing beautiful wedding table decorations.

When you create a wedding that is design-led, your big day becomes one that's remembered by all. As soon as your guests arrive, a thrill of excitement takes over with an anticipation to see more. Immediately, you will have created a wonderful atmosphere.

Choosing the right wedding decorations is just as important as getting the best entertainment and food.

If you’re still not convinced then I urge you to read the rest of this guide and then apply the ideas to your own wedding.

Contents of The Wedding Table Decoration Guide

Part 1 - Why Decorate? 

  • How To Create The ‘Wow’ Factor At Your Wedding
  • Why You Must Decorate & Why Your Guests Will Thank You For It
  • 4 Reasons To Invest More Of Your Wedding Budget In Decor

Part 2 - How to Dress Beautiful Tables

  • Tablecloths & Napkins
  • Chair Covers
  • Table Centres
  • How To Accessorise Your Tables
  • The 5 Golden Rules Of Table Styling

Part 3 - Putting It All Together

  • A Real Wedding Example

wedding table decorations guide

Part 1 — Why Decorate?

How To Create The ‘WOW’ Factor At Your Wedding

It’s an old cliche, but first impressions do count. If you want to create the 'WOW' factor at your wedding, you need to create a great first impression.

The easiest way to do this is by making your guests gasp as soon as they enter the wedding reception room.

First, you need to do some planning. Get this bit right and the rest of the process becomes much easier and enjoyable. Get it wrong and you’re letting yourself in for undue stress. But let's not think about getting it wrong.

This guide will help you get one crucial part of your wedding right... the wedding table decorations.

Why You Must Decorate and Why Your Guests Will Thank You For It

The first thing a bride mentions to a wedding planner is they want to create something different. 

These days, it is not uncommon for a bride or her guests to attend up to five weddings over the course of one summer. That’s a big number and after a while they can become quite repetitive and just plain boring.

It 's Your Wedding Table Decorations After All.

A wedding that’s visually stimulating at the outset will create the tone for the rest of your wedding.

Your captivating wedding will make your guests think about what you have created. This gives them something to immediately talk about. It can be the ultimate ice-breaker too. Straight away, you’ll create a wonderful atmosphere. Your guests will be more relaxed and ready to enjoy themselves far more.

4 Reasons Why You Should Invest More of Your Wedding Budget in Décor

1. Stamp Your Individuality and Personality On Your Wedding

Don’t be drab and boring or scared to show off a bit. It’s your wedding day after all. If there’s one day in your life when you can blow your own trumpet it’s your wedding day. Make your guests sit up and take notice of you!

2. Create a Great First Impression — AKA The 'WOW' Factor

Make your guests walk into something special when they enter your wedding venue. This will set the tone for the rest of your wedding. Your guests will thank you for inviting them to such a special occasion.

3. Transform The Space

Your guests may have been at a wedding at your venue before. Some may even have attended more than one. If the table and room décor is bland like the previous weddings, they'll think yours is the same. Transform the space with your unique style and design led theme.

4. Share The Joy Of Your Wedding Day

Your friends and family will appreciate you for making the wedding special for them, too. They will feel uplifted that you value their friendship.

Wedding Guests Being 'wowed ' As They Enter The Marquee

Part 2 — How To Dress Beautiful Tables

Now we have come to the exciting part. The part where your wedding guests' jaws drop to the floor because of your stunning reception!

The first thing that any beautiful looking table needs is of course a tablecloth! Before I give you a simple way to calculate the size of tablecloth, allow me to go on a rant about table linen. A rant about why your choice of tablecloth, especially its size, is so important to your design.

Make Your Guests Take Notice When They Enter Your Wedding Venue

A Rant On Table Linen

Square Cloth Round TableIn the past, table linen meant two things. A crisp white linen assuming you were at a higher end establishment. Or a grubby, misshapen linen with holes and stains in it the lower down the venue food chain you went.

Incredibly, the latter statement is as true today as it’s ever been.

Would you treat your grandmother like that if she was coming to tea? Of course not! Then why treat your paying customers and YOUR wedding guests like that?

Another thing that was common and still is with the traditionalists is to use a square cloth on a round table. This is design suicide and as good a reason as any to call the style police.

It's like square pegs in round holes and just not attractive. Who wants to see banqueting table legs anyway? It’s a different story if it’s a designer piece of furniture you see at many of the boutique hotels and in that case you would not need a tablecloth.

For many, that is acceptable but to get the 'WOW' factor, choose a floor length tablecloth. I think you’ll agree from the image below that the purple, floor length tablecloth looks far better than the image above with the table legs sticking out rather unattractively!

Now, let’s examine some interesting ways you can use table linens to make your wedding stand out.

Floor Length Tablecloths

Floor Length Tablecloth Not A Table Leg In Sight!Let’s start at the beginning with linens. Unless you have bespoke tables designed for your space, you will need a tablecloth.

My own preference is to always use a tablecloth that drops to the floor. Ask yourself, do you want to see the legs of the table?

If you are putting some effort into a nice tabletop display then don’t scrimp on the tablecloth.

Tablecloths can come in all shapes and sizes, fabrics, and colours. Determining the style should always be your first port of call.

You may choose a plain self coloured fabric, a damask, satin, silk or velvet. Linen hire companies will all have a good range to choose from.

Once you have chosen the style of fabric, make sure that the tablecloth is available in the correct size.

Getting The Correct Size of Tablecloth You Need

Many people get confused when calculating the size of tablecloth they need. Here's a handy table guide to make sure you choose the right tablecloth for your wedding table.

Table Size

Runners & Overcloths

Runners & overcloths are a great way to bring in an accent colour to a table design.

Say you were designing your wedding based around a certain colour. You could take this colour and incorporate it by using a runner or overcloth. In the first image below, we used a Vintage Lace overcloth to help enhance the vintage theme of the wedding.

Runners And Overcloths

The Napkin

You will need a napkin or serviette if you’re serving food.

The banqueting industry have perfected some fancy ways of displaying napkins. Swans, goblets and even phallic looking towers are popular. If you don't have a degree in origami to master this peculiar art, you'll need some help.

I prefer to keep things simple.

Here are some interesting yet simple things you can do with your napkin to arouse curiosity.

Simply Flat & Folded

Simple chic & effective with no fuss. First ensure your napkins are pressed and folded twice. Then fold the napkin in half and place it on the centre of your charger or even between the cutlery – done!

Pocket With Menu Included

A bit more complicated but well worth it! Use square menus and ask your linen supplier to create a pocket. Do this by folding and pressing the napkin in accordance with the size of the menu. You could go even further by adding a ribbon to it for maximum impact.

The Napkin - Wedding table Decorations

Napkin Ribbons

The choice can be mind-boggling as the amount of ribbons available is almost endless. You can pretty much get any colour you want in any fabric and width. Then, you need to decide how to tie it. Think a wired, satin ribbon for a voluptuous bow, organza for a graceful knot or a sturdy ribbon band.

Napkin Rings

There are a vast range on the market. Pick one that complements the tone and style of your wedding. For example, a silver napkin ring for a traditional look.

Chair Covers

Where do we begin with chair covers?

Today, if you Google chair covers, it seems that anyone who has a sewing machine is renting chair covers. Use an established supplier in the country with a decent range and quality products.

Chair Covers for Wedding Table Decorations

Choosing The Right Chair Cover Supplier

Chairs With No CoversDon't get let down by a supplier because they can't cope with orders or logistics on the day. Give yourself the least amount of stress and ensure that your wedding looks great. Choose a company that can logistically cope with your demands. They will be able to supply a chair cover that will properly fit the chair, too.

Is it worth letting your guests turn up at your wedding and see ill-fitting chairs covers complete with stains and big shade differences? The effect will be immediate and any hope of creating that ‘WOW’ factor will disappear in an instant.

4 Reasons To Use Chair Covers To Enhance Your table Design

Chair Covers To Enhance Your Wedding TableIt's sad, but true, we do judge a book by its cover. To appreciate why chair covers can have such a massive impact, think clothing for chairs.

And just like a person, the clothes we wear says a lot about who we are. Your appearance is a major factor in determining how other people perceive you. Let’s examine chair covers that can create the right first impression and why you should use them.

1. Cover Unsightly, Tired or Worn-Looking Chairs

I would always recommend using a chair cover if the chairs in your venue don’t look that good. Nobody likes to sit on a chair with torn fabric, dirty marks or a myriad of other defects.

So Think Poor Condition Chairs Equals Bad First Impression.

Poor condition chairs covered with a good quality cover, saves the day. No damage done. The impression of class, style and quality, often all three at the same time shines through. 

2. Incorporate An Accent Colour

Like napkins and tablecloths, you can use chair covers to highlight an accent colour. The rules are the same, only the garment (tablecloth or chair cover) is different. You can highlight your accent colour by using a seat tie, bow or sash that is tied round the chair.

3. Soften The Look

Chair covers can soften the look of corporate looking spaces. They will give the wedding a prettier feel if you go for traditional white or ivory. Consider using black for a classy and stylish look.

4. Give A Uniformity Of Style

Chair covers can give your wedding a lovely uniformity of style. Make sure they are all positioned properly before the guests sit down and are of a good quality standard.

4 Things You Must Do When Ordering Chair Covers

1.    Get fabric swatches before you order to ensure the colour you want is going to work.

2.   Get samples to try on so you know in advance that they’ll fit. You don’t need to do this if your supplier can assure you they know their cover will fit the chairs at your venue.

3.   Make sure the covers are fitted properly either by the supplier or venue.

4.   Make sure a responsible person is in charge with the task of packing them back up again. Hotels can be big places. If you leave a couple behind there’s every chance that they’ll get mixed up with the hotel’s own laundry. The chances of recovering them can be slim to none. Replacement costs for lost chair covers are expensive. You’d be wise to find out these costs before you order so you’re fully aware of potential pitfalls.

When Not To Use Chair Covers

Sometimes a wedding doesn't need chair covers. Especially when the venue or hire company can provide beautiful, elegant chairs. You can hire chairs like Chiavari chairs and you can still accessorise these with some clever and elegant looking extras.

When your venue has good quality dining chairs in situ, you may struggle to find a quality chair cover to fit. Often, the chairs are nice enough to stand on their own (no pun intended)!

No Covers

Chair Cover Accessories

You can enhance your chair covers with an accessory. Choose from a sash (also known as a bow or a tie), chair cord or a product called ‘The Chair Back’.

Like the ribbon and napkin, chair cover accessories are a great way to add colour. Consider using them as part of your overall design. Here are three examples (plus a lovely image of Monaco Twist Chair Cover thrown in just cos it looks so good!:

1. The Chair Sash, Seat Tie or Bow

2. The Pretty Chair With Rose Tied With Ribbon

3. The Lace Chair

Wedding Chair Accessories

Table Centres

One of the easiest ways to create a dramatic visual impact at your wedding is with the table centre. You can use flowers and traditional pieces such as candelabras and create something funky.

By planning your décor at the outset, you should have a budget or figure that you can devote to the table centre. This presents a lot of options for what you can achieve. For example, you can specify your budget to a florist who will quickly be able to tell you what you can get for that money.

Consider using a candlelight table centre. These are great for creating a beautiful ambience at your wedding. They can also double as atmospheric lighting if your budget is limited.

wedding table centerpieces

5 Tips To Help You Select A Table Centre

1.    Decide whether you want to go for flowers, candles, something funky or unusual. Bearing in mind that you can do both using flowers and candles.

2.   Find out if there are any restrictions in the venue. For example, some venues won’t let you have naked flames. They may let you have candlelight in a container. For example, a nitelight holder, floating candle or surrounded by sand.

3.   Check the height of the ceilings. You don’t want to use a tall table centre in a low ceilinged room as it could overpower things. Similarly, a small table centre in a venue with high ceilings could get lost.

4.   When using flowers, be sensible with your budget. Out of season flowers always cost more so try and use what’s in season. On the same theme, try to avoid flowers that are in heavy demand, like red roses around Valentine’s Day. If your wedding is large scale, choose a florist that has an in-house team who can cope. You need a florist who is great with logistics, time and any other challenges that may occur.

5.    Mix and match. There’s no right or wrong – only what looks good! This is subjective, of course. It's certainly better to have something as a talking point, even controversial. At least your guests will remember it.

Decide Whether You Want To Go For Flowers , Candles Or Something Funky Or Unusual

Table Centre Examples

1. The Floral Table Centre

Floral Table Center

2. The Candelabra

Candelabra

3. Candles & Flowers Combined

Flowers and Candles

4. The Weird & Wonderful

Weird & Wonderful

Only what looks good on a wedding table

How to Accessorise Your Tables

We have covered the basics so far. There are three essentials you need to dress great tables – linen, napkin and table centre. The additional option of chair covers will add that final touch.

Now, onto my favourite part of the whole process. This is the part that really brings your table to life – accessories.

Utilising Your Table Real Estate

A few points to note before we delve deeper into this area. This is the part of the table dressing process that generally takes the most time. This will cost more but the upside is that your table design will rise above the norm.

These little details can make or break a table design so don’t go over zealous for the sake of it. Realize that every additional feature or object you place on a table takes up space. This is prime table ‘real estate’ and you don’t want to waste it unnecessarily so put plenty of thought into it.

View it as an opportunity for you to get creative and incorporate your theme but don’t overdo it.

You’ll also need to pay close attention to the standard items the banqueting team place on the tables. Too much clutter (i.e. wine and water bottles, side plates etc.) will decrease the impact of your accessories.

With this in mind, let’s look at some ways you can accessorise your tables.

1. Charger Plates

Charger plates are a great way to add a unique design feature to your table display. Chargers are extremely versatile and can also be used to serve starters and desserts. A carefully selected plate can really enhance food presentation.

There’s a wide range of shapes and sizes on the market with the most common being the circular charger plate. Choose from clear glass, textured glass, frosted glass or even lacquer finish plastic plates.

There’s one thing you must be aware of if you’re considering using a charger as a base plate. That is, it reduces the amount of guests you can sit at the table. On a standard 6ft round banqueting table, you can comfortably seat 10-12 guests. If you use a charger plate, the maximum amount of guests you’ll get on a 6ft round table is 8-10.

2. Glassware

Your choice of glassware is one area where you can really make a statement with your design. Costs can increase exponentially here.

That’s because you’ll generally need three types of glass per place setting. White wine, red wine and water glass. You can get away with just one size of wine glass provided it’s a decent size.

When choosing a glassware style, you should pay close attention to the style of your wedding. Choose a funky and modern style glass for a contemporary look. Alternatively, crystal style glass will look great in traditional or classic looking design.

You should also consider serving desserts or cocktails in some fancy glassware. Desert served up in vintage china for a vintage wedding. A martini or cocktail glass or even using a goblet to display flowers like in the images above and below. 

3. Flowers

I regularly incorporate flowers as a design accent on tables. Even with a big floral table centre or candelabra, it's great to add more flowers.

Get your florist to provide small posies or bunches of flowers. Place them in glasses or nitelight holders to complement your design. The key is to use your imagination as long as it will enhance the design. I would not advise this strategy if your table real estate is already cluttered. For example, don't let your banqueting staff swamp the table with wine, water bottles and butter dishes.

4. Picture Frames

Picture frames add class to your wedding table design.

Use them to display table names, numbers and also menus. A carefully selected frame can lift a flat looking table design and compliment your look.

5. Nitelights

Nitelight holders are so versatile and are a great way to accessorise a table centre. You can position them around a table centre in groups. It’s always best to work in odd numbers as it is more visually appealing. I would suggest grouping them into threes or fives.

Wedding Table Accessories

The 5 Golden Rules For Styling Great Tables

I hope you have enjoyed reading this guide and browsing the images. Please use them as inspiration to create your own beautifully styled tables.

Before I go, I’d like to leave you with five golden rules to follow. Keep these in mind at all times and you won’t go wrong!

1.   Budget first before you plan your design so you know how much you can afford to spend.

2.   Always use a floor length tablecloth!

3.   Use chair covers only when it will enhance the look of the wedding.

4.   Your table centre does not have to be dramatic – just interesting.

5.   Give some thought to accessorising your table. These finishing touches will elevate your design.

Part 3 — Putting It All Together - A Real Wedding Example

This has to be the best part of the wedding — putting it all together.  There’s so much time and effort put into the planning and design of your wedding, you'll be so excited to see it. 

Here are three real-life wedding examples. Plus, a few extra links at the end.

Romantic Luxe Wedding at Lochgreen House

Lochgreen Santina Seve 122

You can see more of this wonderful wedding here.

STEFANIE AND JAMES' WEDDING AT MAR HALL

STEFANIE AND JAMES' WEDDING AT MAR HALL

You can see more of this wonderful wedding, here.

FAIRYTALE WEDDING AT CRUTHERLAND HOUSE

FAIRYTALE WEDDING AT CRUTHERLAND HOUSE

You can see more of this wonderful wedding, here.

WANT TO SEE MORE?

Head over to our blog where we have shared hundreds of pictures of wedding examples.

Looking for some cool wedding ideas? Head over to 39 Wedding Ideas That Will Blow You Away.

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WAIT, WE STILL HAVE MORE!

WEDDING INSPIRATION GUIDE - FREE EBOOK

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Have fun planning your wedding!