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.
Integrate Bold Hues
If you’re looking to wow your guests, have your tables covered in colorful linens. This velvet green tablecloth is perfect for warm-weather weddings or outdoor nuptials. When paired with neutral accents, such as wooden chairs, white plates, and white napkins, this bright hue will really stand out. For a cohesive look, select floral arrangements that feature the same tone. “Allowing the colors of your wedding to be in your linens allows you the freedom to play up or down your centerpieces,” Walker notes.
Include a Nautical Nod
For seaside ceremonies or lakeside celebrations, choose blue hues to reflect your waterfront venue. This couple used tablecloths in different shades of blue and various patterns to paint the picture of coastal Northern Michigan. They kept their tablescape design minimal, so their linens could be the primary focus. Other decorations, such as rope-hung chandeliers, also helped strengthen their theme.
Stick With the Basics
If you want your table elements to be the center of attention, a white tablecloth is your best bet. Instead of overpowering your décor, neutral linens provide a blank canvas for you to execute your vision. A simple tablecloth fares best with vivacious blooms, textured napkins, and metallic flatware.
Add a Pop of Pink
It’s your wedding day, so why not play around with unique color combinations? With a light pink tablecloth, red goblets, blue napkins, tall floral arrangements, and fruit accents, this table setup is bursting with color and depth. To balance everything out, stick with simple chairs.
Go for Glam
Looking to add a little glitz and glamour to your reception? Have your tables draped with sparkly linens. Gold-rimmed glassware and brass candle holders at each place setting will help bring out the metallic hue and give your evening a glittery feel. Pull your fairy-tale vision together with twinkle lights and chandeliers suspended overhead.
Layer Your Linens
One trend that’s taking the wedding world by storm is incorporating multiple layers of linens into your tablescape. “The use of light and airy runners that flow to the ground on rectangular tablescapes adds an additional layer to the design of the table,” Walker says. A gauzy beige piece of fabric draped across a white tablecloth gives this reception more dimension and intrigue. We love how the knotted napkins, votives, and towering centerpieces all match the runner.
Combine Different Colors
Why settle on just one color when you can use multiple hues? Embrace the colors of the rainbow and paint your tablescapes in various tones. This couple threw an ombré-themed wedding, so each of their reception tables was enveloped in a tablecloth that featured a different shade of white or blue. Coordinate your floral centerpieces with the linens for a consistent design.
Make It Moody
Keep guests on their toes with an unexpected linen choice. A dark purple tablecloth is a chic way to decorate a fall or winter wedding. Floating feather centerpieces in purple, pink, and orange tones will complement the tablecloth and make your design unforgettable. Illuminate the dark hue with a runner of candles scattered across a lucite layer.
Look to Neutrals
Let the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape shine with white tablecloths. Whether you’re celebrating amid the rolling hills of Tuscany or the tropical islands of Hawaii, minimalist linens will let the scenic views serve as the main décor. Combined with white chairs, napkins, and chargers, you’ll create an understated backdrop that will let jaw-dropping florals also come to life.
Pick a Floral Pattern
Without a doubt, flowers are one of the most important details of every outdoor wedding. From backyard bashes to garden-inspired parties, floral tablecloths will help you accomplish your aesthetic. To really drive your theme home, have your table numbers adorned with a floral illustration, elevate your place settings with a sprig of fresh blooms, and select seasonal buds for your centerpieces.
Play Around With Texture
A colorful tablecloth isn’t the only way to elevate your reception. Textured linens will also upgrade your space. With its rich and luxurious appearance, velvet is one material that will give your tables a smooth finish. The thicker fabric is especially ideal for autumn or winter weddings. A fusion of dried and fresh flowers throughout your centerpieces and hanging installations will provide an additional element of texture.
Coordinate With Monochromatic Tones
There’s nothing more timeless than an all-white color palette. Instead of wanting a certain detail within your tablescape to stand out, go with a monochromatic look. White tablecloths, chairs, china, candles, and flowers created a chic setup for this rooftop wedding. A single-hue color scheme is extremely versatile and a viable option for any style or season.
Although bright colors are captivating, incorporating black details into your wedding design will give your gathering a sophisticated edge. If you aren’t keen on going all dark with your décor, balance out a black tablecloth with white flowers. Not only is a black-and-white aesthetic a classic option, but the contrast of colors will bring equilibrium to your reception. For modern or glamorous nuptials, select gold chairs.
Incorporate a Fun Pattern
With playful patterns, your tablecloths can represent unique facets of your personality and relationship. By dining on yellow checkered tablecloths, you’ll bring a laid-back air to your wedding and feel like you're picnicking in the park with all of your favorite people. Pink taper candles in yellow retro holders, single-stem flowers in bud vases, and citrus accents all complement this gingham pattern.
Channel the Summer Season
If you’re swapping vows in the summertime, light blue linens will make your warm-weather wedding feel light and airy. A soft color palette is ideal for backyard nuptials or secret garden weddings in your venue’s courtyard. Including the blue hue in your centerpieces and having your places set with blue and white china will maintain cohesion.
Although a neutral tablecloth gives you the autonomy to accentuate other features of your tablescape, it also sets the tone for a minimalist design. These linens in an oatmeal shade along with wooden chairs and black flatware prove that less really is more.