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Perfecting your table settings

Andrew Lloyd Photography
Seating charts

The first thought when it comes to your table settings is your seating chart. Suspend it in a place at the reception that all your guests can easily find. Lots of couples choose to put their seating arrangements on a sign by the entrance so that guests can immediately locate their seat upon entry. Some guests will want to establish their bearings immediately, dumping any coats and bags at their seats right away, while others will memorise their seat number, mingle a while and make their way over at their own leisure. When drawing up your final seating chart you should ensure every guest is on the list and names are grouped either in tables or alphabetically.

While it is perfectly acceptable to print the list on plain white sheets in a modest font, there are lots of ways to get creative with your seating plans. If you don't have a theme, then get creative with your design. Such as, a seating chart map that lists each table on a separate doily labeled one to 10. Or, for a rustic farm theme, try pegging sheets to a string with each table list printed in a minimalist font on a sheet of its own.

If you are looking to do something a little bit more original, why not name each table after the sorts of people on the table? Could you categorise your guests according to the place where or reason why you met them? A great idea is to pick a figurative theme that means something to your couple, for example one of our real-life weddings couples chose a tree theme following a first date proposal under a tree and named every table after tree varietals. Another couple selected a beer type to identify each table. Put your table names or numbers on a tall stand so that your guests can read them past the centerpieces, crockery and bomboniere.

Place cards

Place cards are vital to your table settings and should clearly state your guests' names in accordance with your seating chart. Any other information, from the newlyweds' names to the reception venue and date, is merely optional. Designs can be played around with to accord with your theme or colour scheme and the positioning of the card is variable. While quite often, the card perches before the guest and ahead of his or her plate, your place cards are certainly not limited to this area. If your centerpieces occupy a lot of space and your table it looking cluttered, perhaps tie your place cards to your bomboniere. You could thread them onto strings and sling them over chairs or you could fix them to your napkin rings to give your plate settings more depth.

Napkin rings

Napkin rings add another layer of interest to your table settings and provide a third platform for you to showcase your unique style. You might choose something as simple as a brown piece of string to create a rustic feel for your winery-based wedding. Other napkin adornments we have seen and loved were starfishes used as paperweights for beachside nuptials, and brown ribbons with a small pine needle branch tucked inside at a countryside wedding. You can always fix a place card or your bomboniere to hold your napkin in place too.

Match up your seating chart design with your table name and place card signs to keep your wedding theme coherent. That isn't to say that everything should look the same. There is plenty of room for creativity when it comes to these elements of your table settings.

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