The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Linen Rentals

Buckle up—we're breaking down the deep, deep world of wedding day linens

Updated 09/10/19

Photo by Becca Lea Photography

When it comes to the nitty-gritty details of your big day, from floor plans and seating charts to transportation and menu selections, wedding linen rentals seem easy. After all, you just pick a color and put it on the table, then the centerpieces go on top... right? Wrong.

The world of wedding linen rentals is vast and complex, and all of these choices will help you truly customize your wedding decor to enhance your vision and create an even more immersive experience for your guests. But the average person doesn't spend much time thinking about the difference between satin and damask, and there's a good chance you've never wondered what size linen you'd need to cover a table for 10.

Thankfully, the fabulous experts at La Tavola Fine Linen have! This Napa-based linen rental company has seen it all, and has a reputation for some of the finest offerings and largest selections around. Who better to break it down for us? Buckle your seatbelt, get your hands on some fabric swatches, and get ready to take a deeper dive into the world of wedding day linen rentals.

The Fabrics

Let's start with the fun part, shall we? There's so much more to tablecloths than the white and lacy variety your grandmother takes out once a year for Thanksgiving. Here are some of the most common fabrics you'll come across, as well as what they're best for and what you might expect to pay for each.

Satin: A smooth, glossy fabric typically made from silk. Satin is a step up from regular solids, and will give your décor an enhanced and polished finish, while still remaining elegant and simple. At La Tavola, satin linens run from $39-$42. Their Peau de Soie is a great example.

Damask and Brocade: Damask is a pattern that is usually seen on heavier weight woven fabrics. It works well for formal events with a truly traditional feel. Brocade fabrics are made of silk threads that are woven to create an embossed or embroidered look. Like damask, they're a more traditional choice. Both linens run from $39-$100 at La Tavola, and can be seen in their Pompeii collection.

Organza: This thin, sheer fabric is perfect for everything from a single cake stand to draping over the tables in an entire ballroom. It can be made from cotton or silk, and is available in both plain and embroidered varieties. Organza linens, like those in the Dolce collection, range from $45-$135.

Taffeta: Taffeta is crisp and smooth, woven from silk or rayons. It is structured and has an iridescent, sleek surface. You can use taffeta on its own, or paired with an overlay. The finish makes it perfect for modern, clean designs. Prices range from $39-$59, and the Topaz collection is a great place to start.

Velvet: For a rich, elegant style, this closely-woven fabric with a soft pile gives the table a distinctive, smooth feel. The La Tavola Velvet collection ranges from $39-$66.

Cotton: Most often used for outdoor events or parties with an informal vibe, cotton is a soft and breathable natural fabric. It can be dyed, patterned, or embroidered, and heavier cottons can have an embossed texture. With prices ranging from $39-$100, it's a relaxed choice featured in the Milano collection.

Linen: Linen tablecloths will give your event effortless style and rustic charm. The texture is grainy, and the fabric can be dyed in a variety of colors. It is often a more formal alternative to cotton. La Tavola's Tuscany collection features linen that ranges from $39-$69.

Sequins: These fabrics, embroidered with shining paillettes, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, from tiny and oversized to square. They're the perfect way to give a high-fashion, glittering feel to accent tables like cake or sweetheart tables. The La Tavola Sequins include single color, patterned, and textured options that range from $22-$90.

Raw Silk: Often used for more formal events, this textured fabric is woven from spun silk with a little shine and more movement than taffeta. La Tavola's Dupioniques collection features these fabrics in a wide range of shades, from $29-$69.

Polyester: This solid, versatile fabric is a great budget-conscious way to dress up your event. La Tavola's Nuovo collection features spun polyester, which has a more natural fiber feel and ranges from $10-$28.

Embellished: A variety of fabrics can be embellished, flaunting everything from sequins to linen to faux leather and more, perfect for accent tables. Ranging from $45-$135, the Dolce has a huge range to add extra texture to your tables.

Lace: This delicate, open fabric is made by looping, twisting, or knitting threads in patterns. It gives a romantic feel to tables, and will dress up any event. It ranges from $74-$110, and can be found as additions in La Tavola's other collections.

Photo by Vienna Glenn Photography

The Vocabulary

Now let's move on to all the terms you'll hear tossed around as you're considering different linens for your wedding.

Liners: A protective fabric to lay underneath a linen. Also called a table pad, it's not meant to be seen but is used to enhance the feel of the tabletop and linen. Liners are typically used under fine or delicate fabrics to give them a more luxurious feel.

Overlays: A linen laid over another linen to give dimension or create pattern. A shorter or different shaped linen can be layered over another, or a thin or sheer fabric can be overlaid over a solid one to dress up a tablescape.

Runners: Narrow lengths of fabric layered on top of tablecloths or placed on a bare table for a decorative touch.

Chair Covers: A fabric embellishment, usually covering the entire chair down to the floor.

Chair Sash: Ornamental fabric tied or placed around the back of a chair to enhance and decorate.

Drape: The way a fabric hangs from a table. Also known as a puddle when the linen lays onto the ground and pools at the base of the table, giving it a stylish and luxe feel.

Wedding guests clinking glasses of champagne at the reception table.
Photo by Kerinsa Marie Photography

The Basics

Got all that? Let's get into the basic logistics of linens: figuring out what size you'll need for your tables!

84" Square: A topper or overlay, used on a round table so the corners drop down to create a layered effect. It can be used on a number of sizes, depending on how much draping you'd like.

108" Round: Typically used on a 48" round table (which seats 4-6 people) for an exact fit that reaches to the floor but does not pool. It could also be used as a topper or overlay on a larger table.

120" Round: Used for 60" round tables (which seat 8 people), as well as highboy 30" cocktail rounds. On both tables, this linen breaks right at the floor, with no puddle.

134" Round: This size is used on 60" rounds with a puddle effect, or 72" rounds (seating for 12) with a perfect fit. It can also be used on cocktail tables for a puddle or on 6' banquet tables.

8' King's Drapes: These 108" x 156" linens are made for an 8' by 48" King's table, and can fit more narrow banquet tables, as well. It can also be used for a 6' banquet table with a puddle effect.

Standard 8': This is the standard size for an 8' x 30" banquet table, which is more narrow than a King's table.

Table Runners: The standard runner, made for an 8' table, is 22" x 120", which provides for a one foot drop on each end of the table. La Tavola's runners are wider than average, which ensures that you'll see the runner, even with the florals and centerpieces set on top.

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