Remember back when your parents asked you to come set the table before dinner? Having to stop what you were doing to lay out napkins and forks always seemed like such a drag, right?
Now, table setting isn’t what it used to be. Jen Rios of Jen Rios Weddings has all but turned it into an artform. Her expert knowledge and creative touch has transformed head tables into show pieces, and sign-in tables into enchanted first steps toward a wedding. Inspired by her thoughtful approach, we asked Jen to share her insider tips for creating the best table settings for any occasion.
The Laurel: Jen, can we start with the basics? Whether for a head table at an event or dining room table at home — how do you make a fabulous tablescape?
JR: To create a great tablescape you want to first start with the base — the table! Is it a farm table and just needs a runner or will it need a linen? Starting here creates the foundation of your design.
Next, create your place settings. Maybe it's a simple meal and you just want a charger or for a more formal event, stack and mismatch some china patterns to make it your own. What will really add to the design is the centerpieces. You don't want the table to feel crowded but you do want it to feel lush. Add in some floral arrangements and accent with candles and some coordinating items like fresh fruit for a winter wedding or potted succulents for the summer.
Finally, the cherry on top is the paper goods. Accent your place settings with placecards. Get creative! If you love to travel use a tiny paper airplane with a seasonal bloom next to it. If you are throwing a spanish style event use a handmade tile with scripted font. The possibilities are endless!
TL: What specialty tables should every bride plan to have at her wedding?
JR: My favorite design feature at a wedding is a head table. It allows us to create a "show piece" for the design and a focal point for guests as they walk into the room. Additional feature areas I love to design are a sign in/welcome table, seating assignment table or area and the bride's cake table. By focusing on these key areas you hone in on the design features instead of trying to do everything everywhere which can get overwhelming (and expensive!).
Stems of Dallas, Lion Heart Image
TL: As for decor and design, what are absolute musts at the head table?
JR: The perk of doing the head table is you can do so much more for a small quantity instead of for everyone. For example, if the bride wants vintage china but can't afford it to have it for all 200 guests they can have it on the head table for only 20. This makes the head table special for the bride and groom and makes it a focal point with those extra design features. I think it's important to have the most "wow" floral design here. Whether it's tall, lush arrangements or a garden-inspired garland you definitely want to make a statement.
My other favorite part of the head table are the place settings. I love to personalize them with the bride's selections and a special touch with place cards or floral accents.
TL: What items do you love to add to table scapes as a personal touch from the bride and groom?
JR: I draw inspiration from my bride and groom when I'm designing so I think it's important to incorporate personal touches that tell their story. A great way to do this is through paper goods. The table numbers and placecards are great ways to bring a little whimsy to the design without it being cheesy.
TL: How do items and elements differ when creating a casual guest table versus creating a formal guest table?
JR: Whether the table is formal or casual you want the design to appear lush and fully executed. You don't have to do "less" just because it's a casual wedding. Maybe you bring in casual elements like wood but mix it with a formal china so you have that heightened design without it being too stuffy. Formal brides tend to want large over the top floral where casual brides like things low with a lot of candlelight, but no matter what they choose you still want it to look special for the occasion.
TL: What colors are best to use for each season as far as linens, rentals, floral?
JR: I don't believe in "rules!” I think a bride should have what she wants no matter what the season. If a bride loves blush and pastels but wants to be married in the fall just bring in a pop of moody tones and use materials like a soft velvet to give it a warmer feel. If she loves deep berry tones but wants to wed in the spring add some soft greenery and neutrals to lighten it up a bit.
I think any color can work with any season with the right design in place!
Thank you, Jen, for sharing such valuable ideas for setting beautiful tables! To learn more about about Jen Rios Weddings, click here.
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