The table setting style of your reception will be one of the most important parts of your wedding day. Your guests will spend on average 3 hours at this space, so it’s important to give it the attention it deserves. We checked in with our lead stylist, Mishy, to get to the bottom of what’s what, and some ideas going into 2023-24 to stay on trend!
This is probably the #1 question I get as a stylist when discussing the reception’s table looks. A charger plate is both functional and decorative. It is a larger-sized plate that sits at each setting. Plated food courses are then served on top of this charger plate. They are usually made out of glass, metal, or a durable plastic material. Traditionally they are used to elevate a design into semi-formal or formal territory, but depending on the charger’s style and material, they can be used in more casual settings as well. The charger plate is set at the start and stays for the duration of the meal. Depending on what is served, it may or may not be used for the dessert course.
the purpose | to catch any spills that may occur during service and eating; to rest cutlery and flatware during eating; to help keep warm plates warm and cold plates cold; to serve as a protective barrier between the table & linens with the food and any resulting spillage
the look | adds an additional decorative element to your table setting look, provides a pop of color, pattern, or texture to help display the other details on the table; it also makes the food present more nicely and professionally as well
the style | make sure the color and material matches your wedding’s vibe: i.e. a formal wedding shouldn’t use woven placemats while gold glass chargers would look out of place in a rustic barn style wedding
the trend | we’re seeing more and more innovative displays of this important and functional element on the table; not just as “plates” per se, but also including place mats and square/rectangular shape displays into 2023 and 2024
- woven, rattan, twig, organic style placemats / chargers are the biggest trend on the table for 2023 — you want to go for something clean and tightly woven; perfect for a rustic or elegant-rustic style wedding
- creative textures like salt blocks, tiles, ceramic, wood plank, polished marble are making an eye-catching appearance on the tables
- we’re seeing a return to the absolute gorgeous classics — solid gold, solid silver round chargers and gold or silver rimmed glass round chargers are always in and really being embraced again in particular for 2023-24 table stylings
- we’re also seeing elegant embellishments on the shapes – scalloped designs for example is very much in right now, as well as dramatic baroque and period-inspired designs
- china and patterns — building a formal, traditional look with full china patterns is perfect for a “grandmillenial” wedding style
- turquoise, tiffany blue, silver/grey and gold tones will be popular
what’s out | whimsical and traditional jewel colors like cherry red, christmas green, crayola purple; reef design style; anything sparkly or with jewels or crystal embellishments
FLATWARE / CUTLERY
Another area we can really specialize your wedding’s overall look is actually in the flatware used! Many couples will defer to what the venue has, which in most cases can be perfectly fine. But sometimes a venue’s flatware is a bit…..boring. It’s almost always solid silver, often thick and clunky, and can look rather used and worn. There are a few venues in Ireland who’s flatware is exquisite; Waterford Castle, for example, has an exceptional set of vintage style flatware that is wonderful to work with. But for the most part, if you’re looking to create a specific look for your wedding day, I advise you at least consider bringing in different flatware.
the purpose | will include all of the forks, knives, spoons you’ll need for your reception including all courses, coffee/tea, dessert, and steak knives if needed
the look | can add a pop of color and texture to your table, and with the right candlelight help create a romantic presentation!
the style | make sure the flatware you’re using on the day is matching the formality and color palette you’re presenting for your wedding; if you’re overall style is more contemporary, the vintage style cutlery will completely contrast and ruin the overall aesthetic you’ve already invested in
the trend | a return to silver and pops of color and texture
- the modern solid gold and color-accent flatware is still strongly on trend to create a more updated look; we’re liking using white and black this year in particular on the tables
- patterned silverware — even a small motif is making all the difference
- vintage / antique style silverware is very on trend this year and next
- sleeker and classic designs
- turquoise and mother of pearl will be particularly popular
what’s out | all-gold classic patterned flatware is taking a break (unless you’re going for a traditional style), and large, heavy clunky silverware without any personality is out
Glassware is an easy way to instantly change the look of your table. From a pop of color, a unique shape or style, the glasses on the table are often one of the first details to catch the eye because they sit higher than other items on the table, and often glisten off of the candle light and lighting in the room. You can use this to your advantage, but choosing the right glassware style and colors in order to really enhance the first impression your guests will have of your reception space. Similarly to flatware, a venue will offer you their line of glassware for use on the day. Most will have what I call “restaurant quality” glassware: simple, classic design that can carry between casual to formal styles. Some venues have branded glassware (will include their initial or some kind of venue branding); some clients like this, some are put off by it as this is supposed to be your day. But again, my advice is to get a sense of what you’re working with and see if it’s congruent to the overall style you’re creating.
the look | can add a pop of color and an eye-catching detail to enhance the overall presentation; can also work with a theme or color palette to hit the formality and vibe you’re creating
the style | does the glassware express the same formality level you’re creating in the rest of the room? does it make sense in the venue space? something with a gold or silver accent to add a level of formality to the overall look – can be a larger accent of gold or a slight accent; a vintage style includes a fluted shape or crystal style pattern, colored or clear like diamond pattern floral etching details; something more modern includes using black crystal, smooth and sleek shapes, and stemless styles; a casual wedding can use a classic stemware style, and even use goblets or water glasses in an accent color
the trend | we’re seeing a return to very classic, traditional and formal styles on glassware especially in relation to the glass shape and accents like gold/silver rim details, etching, and a classic crystal pattern
- gran-millennial is having its moment: if your grandma or great-grandma has a set of crystal, chances are that style is in right now and for next year!
- think Downton Abbey, Victorian, even medieval goblet styles used as pops of gold or silver on the table to give a nod to old-world vibes
- European influence is huge for glassware for the foreseeable future — Waterford crystal styles, very elegant, different patterned looks will be huge as a full display or pieces used as accents
- colored glassware is still having a moment, but we’re seeing a shift to more of a water glass shape rather than a goblet shape
- traditional wedding colors like soft pink, blue-greys, and greens are still in but for the adventurous truly on trend couple, take heavy inspiration from your season and use color tones like amber, eggplant, lavender, golden yellow, even black!
what’s out | red glassware gives decided holiday vibes, so unless your wedding is the week of Christmas I don’t recommend using it!
Linens & Napkins
Often overlooked and underappreciated, the table linens of the day will play a huge part in the overall presentation for your reception’s look. Again, many venues will default to a classic restaurant quality white for table cloths and napkins, and this may or may not work with your overall look and color palette. Some venues in Ireland have a great set to work with that’s appropriate to its venue’s style (Luttrellstown comes to mind!), while others are woefully out of date. Take a really close look when you’re making your decision and don’t make any assumptions! Linens and napkins can be easy to source, and with enough notice, even custom orders can be done to bring your vision to life!
the look | most tables will take a standard table cloth, but farmhouse tables are best dressed with a good quality table runner; consider the fabric for your table cloths and/or runners and make sure the color and movement is correct for your look; when in doubt, floor-length is best!
the style | does the color compliment the venue as well as the centerpieces on the table?; does the color combination between table cloth and napkin make sense?; is the material appropriate for the level of formality – cotton (casual), satin (formal, evening), linen blend (day-night, a range from casual – formal); do the table cloths or table runners fit!
the trend | patterned table cloths are having a major moment – from subtle motifs to big, bold patterns
- still ok to mix/match napkins and table cloths in both color and fabric, but make sure it’s not deviating too far!
- clean and impeccable hemstitch patterned napkins are wonderful for a more rustic or casual setting
- 100% cotton is preferred for the next couple of years as the flexibility can yield to a variety of folding techniques and display styles
- hand-died linen is still preferred for its organic, softer colors; artificial colors are still very much out
- matching patterns on table cloths or mixing bold patterns is on trend for 2023-24 — depends on your boldness!
what’s out | sorry but taffeta and silk still are a touch too old fashioned
On the day stationary
Another fast and pretty economical way to personalize your wedding day and give it that finished, polished look is to invest in proper on the day stationary. This is often the difference between an “ok” wedding and a stunning wedding. Many think “guests will see the menu for a second what’s the point,” but you can’t deny the power of a first impression. Both functional and decorative, with a little lead time and a computer, it’s easy to find a style that will work for your wedding day and budget! Don’t ignore this one!
the look | can add an easy pop of color to draw in your color palette; also a chance to add a pop of personalization and unique details to the table setting (custom crests, initials, sketch designs, and other details like naming your tables after something that has meaning for you both that’s unique to you)
the style | does the font & style match your wedding’s formality? is it easy to read? does the paper quality match how you’ll display the piece? do you need a frame or stand to display anything? is it consistent with your color palette and theme?
the trend | elegant, clean and easy to read fonts rule the day, regardless of the formality style you’re working with
- clean modern fonts on white/ivory or colored thick cardstock paper are hugely popular and a wonderful way to add a modern touch to any wedding display
- botanical motifs especially in a sketch style design are big for 2023-24
- European influence – French, Italian in particular – big for the next few years
- color embossing or letterpress is popular – especially in soft blue, softer pinks, soft grey, golden hues, and classic black
- for the more formal wedding styles, a hugely ornate crest or monogram is back in style
- scalloped, baroque, fillagree paper edges are big
- interesting shapes or layouts: horizontal rather than vertical, round, bell-shaped, rounded arch, oval shapes are all huge for the next year
- saving on paper: a larger menu display per table or dual table number/menu
- organic and recycled paper, paper with texture, paper made with dried flowers
- menus with guests’ names printed directly on or attached
what’s out | watercolor details, marble effect, geode anything, overly complicated calligraphy style fonts, geometric accents
Hope this gets you started thinking on what can work for your dream wedding reception! Reach out for more great ideas and examples and make sure to keep checking our Blog and Instagram for the latest!