Welcome to our little guide to everything you need to know about tabletop rentals! Whether you have your dream tablescape vision in mind, or you haven’t even started thinking about this yet, we are here to help! We will break it alllll down, and give you the details on linens, flatware, plates, chargers and glassware rentals! So grab your wedding planning binder or notebook, your favorite pen, and your drink of choice, and get ready to dive in!
Starting from the bottom up, the linen sets the stage for the rest of your tablescape. While a well placed linen provides the perfect backdrop, a disheveled linen (trust us they are out there!) can wreck the whole look. We are certainly not in the business of tearing down other vendors, so when someone doesn’t make our recommendations list, just trust us that we have seen a thing or two, and we want you to have the best experience possible!
Styles & Fabrics
Here are some of the most common fabric and style options to choose from:
Satin: This popular fabric often consists of blending silk with common fabrics like cotton, nylon and polyester. It still has the essence of silk with its sheen and luxe feel, but it is much more affordable. Satin is a great option for reception table linens.
Silk: One of the prettiest fabrics is silk, with its smooth and luxurious look and feel. A variation of silk is Shantung, which has a bit of texture, and a bit more of a sheen. This is a personal favorite as we love a bit of texture and sheen!
Polyester: This fabric is simple and durable, and designed to fit almost any budget. Available in almost any color and pattern you can dream up, this versatile fabric is a great choice for reception, cocktail and buffet tables (basically everything!).
Cotton: Basic cotton tends to have more of an informal aesthetic. It can come in almost any color, and can be embroidered or textured to elevate it a bit. Cotton tends to be selected for outdoor events and more low-key parties.
Chiffon: This fabric is a sheer, lightweight fabric that is commonly used in overlays and draping, due to its transparent nature. Overlays can be a base of chiffon, but also have lots of texture and volume to them. These styles of overlays are perfect to make your cake table, sweetheart or head table, pop, as well as your welcome table!
Taffeta: As a stiffer, more structured fabric, taffeta is great for accents. Woven from satin, silks or rayons, this fabric has a slight shine and can come textured as well.
Patterned: This category of fabrics includes damask, jacquard, filigree, and brocade, among others. Each of these is a pattern type, and is often associated with certain types of fabrics like silk or polyester. Each has its own unique style, and can be used for accents.
Silk: One of the prettiest fabrics is silk, with its smooth and luxurious look and feel. A variation of silk is Shantung, which has a bit of texture, and a bit more of a sheen.
Organza: Another accent fabric, and similar to chiffon, organza can be used for sashes, overlays, draping and more. It is both lightweight and sheer, and available in almost any color, so it can pair well with other fabrics in the space.
Velvet: There are few fabrics as elegant as velvet. Available in an array of colors, with a shine and a soft pile feel, this fabric is great for accents. Velvet can be more on the expensive side as it is a thicker fabric and takes a special type of dry cleaning.
Lace: A romantic and timeless fabric with open spaces in between the delicate patterned threads, lace is often used as an accent fabric, like as an overlay, runner or sash.
Sequin: Covered in shiny metallic disks, sequin fabrics will sparkle up any space. This fabric makes a great accent fabric like on a cake table, versus a foundational fabric like on a room full of reception tables. Like velvet, sequin tends to be quite expensive as it is the most difficult to clean.
Linen Sizes for Tables
Here are the most common linen sizes that you will come across, and what they are used for:
108” Round: This linen is floor length on a 36” round table that seats 3-4 guests, and is typically used for cocktail hour low tables or a smaller cake table. It can also be used on a 48” round which is standard for a larger cake table.
120” Round: This linen is floor length on a 60” round table that seats 8-10 guests, and is typically used for the reception. It also is used for floor length coverage of a 36” high top table for cocktail hour. If you use this for cocktail hour, you will not want to use any type of tie, sash, or bow as the table legs will show!
132” Round: This linen is floor length on a 72” round table that seats 10-12 guests, and is typically used for the reception. It also is used for full length coverage of a 36” high top table for cocktail hour, when being tied with a sash.
90” x 132”: This linen is floor length on a standard 6ft rectangular buffet table.
90” x 156”: This linen is floor length on a standard 8ft rectangular buffet table.
Overlays and Runners: These types of linens are layered on top of the base linen to add color, dimension, and sometimes even texture. Overlays are usually square and draped over the center of the table, and runners are usually long and thin and run across the table and down the sides.
Sashes: This type of linen or rope is usually used to tie up a floor length linen draped over a high top table.
Napkins: These linens are your dinner napkins, which can be styled in many different ways. If you need napkin fold ideas, check with your wedding planner!
Draping: Linens can also be used for draping backdrops, entry ways, and many other things! Check out our blog on Installations for more on draping!
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Quantities: There are always things that pop up last minute or accidents that can happen! It is important to order many extra napkins, but also at least one extra table linen in each size you are using as well! We have seen guests spill a full glass of red wine, or a server knock over a pitcher of water before guest arrival. We always say it's better to be over-prepared than underprepared!
Color: This kind of goes without saying, but make sure that you get to see the actual color sample of the linen you are selecting. The color may be called French Lilac, but what it actually looks like, may be different from your vision. Color possibilities are limitless, so make sure that you are getting the exact color that you want!
Texture and Sheen: Some linens have textures and/or sheens to them, and others do not. Before finalizing your linen selections, make sure that you get to see them in person to confirm that the textures and sheens are to your liking! Same as with colors!
Reputation: You definitely want to rent your linens from a reputable vendor! We have seen linens with stains, pulls, frayed edges, wrinkles, wrong colors, wrong styles, and everything else. You name it, we’ve seen it! Linens are the literal foundation for your tablescapes. Do not give your money to just anyone. Trust us pretty please when we recommend certain rental companies over others. We promise that we have your best interests in mind!!
As you can see, linens are not just limited to tables. The possibilities for the use of linens are pretty much endless! We encourage you to work with your rental company and/or venue/caterer, as well as your wedding planner, to select the best linen options for your day!
Let’s be honest, your Pinterest board is full of luxury tablescape ideas for your reception, and you’re starting to wonder if it's really necessary to have all of those glasses on the table? We totally get why you’re unsure, so we’re going to break down the purpose of each piece, and when/why you would want it on your reception tables!
Types of Glassware
Apparently there are over 25 different types of glassware! Crazy, right?! Each piece has a purpose, and a setting where it is most common. We definitely don’t want to overwhelm you, so we’re just going to talk about the most common pieces of glassware that you will find on a luxury tablescape! We’ll also give you some ideas for a few other types if you feel like researching further!
Water Goblet: The water goblet is perhaps the most standard piece of glassware that you will find on any reception table. Whether you’re going for a plain water goblet from your caterer, or a colored vintage goblet from your rental company (more on this later!), you’re going to want some sort of glassware for water on your table.
Champagne Flute: Unless you’re having a completely dry wedding (you do you, girl!), there is almost always a champagne toast. We HIGHLY recommend preset champagne at the reception for the sake of time, and because it looks oh so classy along with the rest of your tablescape. If you want to know more about the benefits of preset champagne, stay tuned for our future blog on Champagne! BUT regardless of how and when you serve your champagne, you need a champagne flute! Just like with water goblets, you may have some options for styles and colors, so check with your rental company!
White & Red Wine Glasses: If you are doing wine service to your reception tables during dinner, we highly recommend having a red wine glass at the table. This type of glass is suited for both red and white, as they are the standard options.
Coffee Mugs: Most caterers/venues have the standard white coffee mug that goes with the rest of the dinnerware, but you are not limited to that! Maybe you want a pretty clear glass irish coffee mug, or you want to serve from vintage tea cups. Glassware is a great way to bring in creativity and character to your wedding and tablescapes, and coffee mugs are no exception! You may have these pre-set at the table, but we typically recommend to either have a fun coffee station, or have your servers offer coffee with the mug during dessert. This way it doesn’t take away from your tablescape!
Other Specialty Glassware: If your fiance’s signature drink is his favorite brew, you may want to consider renting pilsner’s glasses. Or maybe you selected a lemon drop martini, and want it served in a proper martini glass. Whatever beverage you’re wanting, there’s most likely a type of glassware associated with it! Don’t be afraid to do some research, and then chat with your venue/caterer and/or rental company and wedding planner, to find what you’re looking for!
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Color and Style: When most people think of glassware, they think clear, but that is not all that is available! There are so many color and style options available, especially for water goblets! Most of the time, rental companies will have photos of their inventory on their website, so you can definitely do some research and see what’s out there. But also don’t be afraid to just bring your inspiration photos and mood board to your rental company and wedding planner, and see what they come up with!
While having multiple types of glassware on your table really adds to the luxurious feels of the day, it is also often practical, as each piece serves a purpose! Then, when you start adding in complementary styles and colors of glassware, you can take your tablescapes to the next level! Why not do a colored water goblet with a gold rim champagne flute?! The possibilities are endless!
Unless you’re serving only finger foods at your reception, you’re going to need flatware! We will cover all of the essentials, as well as the extras, so that you can make an informed decision on your flatware needs and wants!
Types of Flatware & Recommended Quantities
Again, we are totally here for the full luxurious tablescape, so we’ll teach you about everything! But, there may just be some pieces that aren’t relevant to your wedding, and therefore not necessary on your particular table! We are also going to dish out the quantities necessary as that is a key component, although your caterer and/or wedding planner will absolutely guide you!
For a plated meal, it is recommended to order one full set of flatware for each guest, with 10-20% extra, especially if you are offering vendor meals as well. For a buffet, it is recommended to order double forks and knives in case your guests want seconds!
Salad Fork/Dessert Fork: If you are offering a first course or any style of dessert, always have a dessert and salad fork. You can order double of these for your guest count as they are the same style and size!
Dinner Fork: Pretty straightforward - everyone needs one! Whether you are having a plated meal or buffet, you should always order extra flatware (at least 10 or more). Why?! What if you have a guest drop a fork, ones weirdly shaped, or one is chipped?! We always want you to have extra of everything!
Dinner Knife: A basic knife, and necessary to have! This is another item you will want to order double of, as your guests may use one for the first course and one for entree.
Steak Knife: You may be serving beef, but unless you are serving actual steak or brisket, a steak knife is not usually necessary. Most protein choices can be cut up with a dinner knife!
Butter Knife: While not necessary, a butter knife on the bread plate is a nice touch, and definitely adds to the luxury vibes! If you have a bread plate with butter, this is necessary! If you do a bread basket with a butter ramekin, guests can use one of their dinner knives instead.
Teaspoon/Dessert Spoon: This is the spoon you’ll select to go with your coffee service, and if you’re doing some sort of pudding or mousse dessert! If you do a coffee station, you won’t need a spoon for everyone. If you are serving coffee to the guests tableside, everyone will have one!
Soup Spoon: Only necessary if you’re serving soup!
There are many different style and color options to choice from when it comes to flatware. There is everything from vintage to modern, and from classic silver to matte black and rose gold. Check with your rental company to see what they have available!
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Aesthetic: If you are going through the process of renting flatware, you might as well rent something that enhances your tablescape, so take some time to research your options! Even if your venue/caterer includes flatware, you may still consider renting if you are going for a specific look!
Sometimes it is easy to focus on only the prettiest details like floral arrangements and candles, and to forget that even the simple things, like flatware, really make a difference in a tablescape! If you have all the gold details, go for the gold flatware! It makes a big impact!
Just like with flatware and glassware, we’re going to break down the essentials and extras when it comes to china! Plus, we will chat styles that can match your tablescape vibes!
Types of China
Appetizer Plate: If you have any sort of stations for cocktail hour, you will need appetizer plates (also referred to as B&B 6” plates) at the station, whether it is cheese and charcuterie, or a raw bar! If you are just doing passed hors d'oeuvres, you can skip them!
Salad Plate: YES, we are saying this! In our humble opinion, a standard salad plate (8” plate) is too small for the first course. We will ALWAYS recommend that you go with an entree size (10”) plate for the salad. It looks better with your charger, and it is just so much better than a small salad plate. If you go with a buffet, you can still do preset salads, or you can have it at the buffet, and skip the need for a salad plate. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on the benefits of doing a preset salad!
Bread Plate: If you’re serving a plated meal, especially one with preset bread (pretty standard) you’ll need a bread plate. Sometimes you may only have a bread basket and butter ramekin, in which case, you can forgo the bread plate. For a buffet, it can go either way! If you preset the bread at the table - bread plate; if you have the bread on the buffet, the bread plate isn’t needed!
Dinner Plate: This one is pretty self explanatory! Whether buffet or plated, you will definitely need dinner plates! Remember to order extra for your vendors, seconds, and in case any are broken. Since we already mentioned the salad plates above, remember to order double of the dinner plates (10”), as they will be used for the first course AND the entree course.
Dessert Plate: Whether you’re doing a dessert station or cake service, you will need dessert plates! They are actually the same size as a salad plate so they are considered either name and are a cute 8” for your mini desserts or scrumptious cake!
Bonus - Soup Bowl: Pretty straightforward, if you’re serving soup, you’ll need a soup bowl! If not, don’t order them!
As with other tabletop rentals, there is no one size fits all when it comes to china. You want sleek matte black plates for your modern fall wedding? Let’s go! You’re feeling vintage blue and white paisley for your tea inspired garden reception? So perfect! What about gold for your glamorous winter wedding celebration? We love that for you! Whatever you’re imagining, some version of it is probably out there! So don’t stop dreaming those luxurious tablescape dreams, and don’t rule out china as a way to help make them a reality!
These recommendations are general industry suggestions based on meal type.
Plated: For a plated meal, it is recommended to order one full set of plates for each guest, with 10-20% extra.
Buffet: For a buffet, depending on your guest count, it is recommended to order double dinner plates, 10-15 extra dessert plates (as not everyone will eat dessert), and 25% extra appetizer plates. Bread and salad plates would be just one for each guest because you would only need them for presetting.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Aesthetic: Once again, whether you’re renting out of necessity, or personal preference, have fun with it! Choose the pretty blue vintage plates, or the gold polka dot dessert plates! Live your tablescape dreams, and give your guests the luxury experience!
We’re starting to sound like a broken record, we know. BUT your vendor team really does have your back, and they want to help you bring your vision to life. So gather those ideas, and start making some phone calls!
A well placed charger adds the finishing touch to a well-placed tablescape! Especially if you choose a white linen, we recommend adding a charger to bring in more depth and dimension!
Purpose of Chargers
A charger is a decorative plate that serves as a backdrop for your first and entree courses. It helps to add color and style to the tablescape, without adding extra items into open spaces. It helps your table to look full and complete, but not cluttered!
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Skip for Buffet: Your guests are likely to get confused if they see a charger at their table, if the meal is buffet. They may not understand the purpose of a charger, and may end up bringing it up to the buffet with them, thinking it is their plate. For this reason, we recommend skipping chargers if you are doing a buffet or stations!
Amount of Guests per Table with Chargers: Remember, if you are using a charger, space is tighter, so you will need to go down on the amount of guests per table to make room for the 12” or 13” charger plate. We recommend 60” rounds to comfortably seat up 8 guests, 72” rounds to comfortably seat up 10 guests, and wide feasting tables to comfortably seat up to 8 guests (10 if they sit at the ends)!
While chargers are certainly not a requirement for a completed tablescape, they absolutely add an element of class and luxury. We highly recommend checking with your rental company to see what options are available!
Well, you made it through! We know it was a lot to take in, but lucky for you, this article can be saved, and you can check back to it any time that you need! Now is a great time to schedule a meeting with your wedding planner and rental company to go over your ideas and questions. When you meet with them, be sure to bring all of the pretty inspiration photos that you’ve been saving! When you’re ready to move on to furniture rentals, we’re ready for you!