Wedding Planning

What’s On Your Table?

Our brief glossary into the pretty things that make up a reception table.

When it comes to decorating your table and creating a tablescape, it takes a whole lot of details, many of which you may have never heard of before. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.


These are not necessary, but are often used when the caterer will be serving a seated dinner rather than a buffet (or when the plates will be housed at the buffet table). Think of them as a place marker for your dinner plates. Once your plate is at the table, they sit on top. So, if you want to have cool place settings before dinner arrives, chargers can be a great option. Depending upon the chargers’ size and design, they can also add plenty of color and dimension to your tablescape.

Place Cards Vs. Escort Cards

Technically speaking, place cards are used at each place on a table when you want to assign specific seats. You would have a seating chart at your reception, guests would find their table number, and then find their assigned seat once they arrive at the table. Escort cards are usually arranged on a welcome table. An escort card features a guest’s name and corresponding table number. They pick up the card and take it to the table, placing it at the seat of their choosing. It really all depends on how much you want to specify who sits where.

Hanging Installations

This detail has really only become popular for weddings over the last couple years. It involves using the vertical space above a table, decorating it with hanging flowers, branches, lights, or even chandeliers. For many venues, this would be overkill. However, it is a decor detail to consider when you have a big open space that needs to be given personality and warmth, such as an urban loft or large tent.

Place Settings

When it comes to how you arrange and decorate each table setting, that’s up to you!  Although there used to be specific rules that governed whether or not a place mat had to be used or how specific your flatware needed to be to accompany your menu, those are pretty outdated. Make sure each guest has what they need, and then go with your own whims from there!  The minutia like whether or not you should have a napkin roll up the utensils, or placed to the side of the plate depends more upon your theme and style than anything else. Some couples choose to make a big deal out of the place settings, and then to go lighter on the centerpieces and other table decor. However, you can balance that out however you like!

Tablecloths & Table Runners

Another optional detail is how you arrange your table linens. If you are using rented tables, or those provided by a hotel venue, chances are the surface of the table is pretty bleak, and you’ll want to cover them. But if you have gorgeous tables that you want to show off, there’s no reason you need any linens at all.  Traditionally, a table runner was used in addition to a tablecloth, but today, you can use them with or without corresponding linens.  Some weddings are also embracing a runner ‘alternative’ such as eucalyptus leaves running the length of the table.

What’s your favorite table detail?

Credits:  Jonathan & Kaye   |   Beall + Thomas   |   Ali V Photography   |   Jessica Fairchild