When designing your wedding reception, you’ll probably spend the most amount of time fine-tuning your tablescapes. Not only do your reception tables take up the most amount of space, but they’re also one spot your guests will spend a majority of the evening. From glassware to cutlery, there are countless items you need to consider when finalizing your table display.
One particular detail that can make or break your tablescape? The tablecloths. “Linens are the baseline for the room’s décor,” wedding planner Elana Walker says. “The linens will be seen the most and will set the tone for the design of the room and each tablescape.”
Of course, having your tables wrapped in white or beige linens is always a classic option. But, embracing something bold and unexpected is becoming more and more popular with couples. Whether it’s an eye-catching color, a playful pattern, or a fun texture, your tablecloths will add depth, dimension, and visual appeal to your reception space. Throwing a glamorous wedding? Pull your event together with metallic tablecloths. For modern couples, you can never go wrong with black. If you’re hosting a backyard summer bash, consider a checkered pattern.
Nonetheless, your tablecloths don’t have to be the focal point. They can also act as a supporting element while still making a statement. Select plain tablecloths if you want elaborate florals, extravagant candles, or unique chargers to steal the show.
Whether you choose something simple or striking, remember to balance your tablecloths with the rest of the decorative details. “For the tables you want to stand out, make sure the linen and the centerpiece don’t compete with each other,” Walker explains. “My rule of thumb is the fancier the linen, the more toned down the centerpiece and vice versa.”
Since your linens tie all of the other decorations together, choosing the right tablecloths is crucial. Wendy Kay of Birds of a Feather Events suggests familiarizing yourself with the different kinds of fabrics before making any decisions. “You want something that is thick and not see-through,” she notes. “You also want it to be the correct size and drape nicely on the table.”
Instead of viewing your tablecloths as an after-thought, Kay also recommends allocating funds for them. “If you’re on a tighter budget, make the linens and chairs your priority when it comes to décor and go more simple on everything else,” she advises.
Another way to cut back on costs is renting your linens instead of buying them. “When purchasing from inexpensive sites, the linens can be of bad quality,” Walker shares. “Also, a lot of labor goes into buying linens. They need to be steamed before putting on the table and dry cleaned afterward to avoid molding from food and drinks being spilled on them.”
From colorful hues to show-stopping fabrics, here are 18 tablecloth ideas that will make your reception unforgettable.
Meet the Expert
- Elana Walker is a certified wedding planner and the owner of Elana Walker Events, which she launched in 2009. She’s based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Wendy Kay is the owner and creative director of Birds of a Feather Events, a Dallas-based wedding planning firm. She has been planning couples’ nuptials for 12 years.