Table centrepieces are an age-old tradition for wedding receptions, sprucing up venues and sparking conversations between guests. These days, centrepieces have evolved to include the entire table, with stylists taking everything into account, from the place cards and napkins to the main feature at the centre of it all. Kirrily Ireland chats with Debbie Howes, stylist and owner of Special Day Creations, about creating the ultimate tablescape for a unique wedding.
HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED
While centrepieces traditionally involved a lovely flower arrangement in the middle of the table, “the tablescape looks at the table as a whole”, so it includes the “plate settings, cutlery, napkins, glasses, runners and centrepieces”. For Howes, it’s like creating a mini symphony; “all the elements have to look right or else it feels like a note is out of place”.
Of course, the centrepiece is still a vital instrument in the creation of the overall tablescape. Whether you opt for the traditional flower arrangement, or mix it up with candles in mason jars, pompoms, seashells and other materials, they help express the theme and set the tone for the wedding. “Centrepieces provide an insight into the couple getting married by showing off their personality,” Howes says. “They help provide a focal point for your eyes to dance over, rest on, and are used as conversation starters.”
When creating a tablescape and the centrepiece, Howes notes that a few key considerations need to be taken into account to ensure that the view and conversation between guests aren’t blocked. “Keep the displays below the eyeline, [which is] the natural height of your guests’ eyes when seated; above eyeline – remember some guests are taller than others; or use thin or see-through displays, such as thin long candle sticks or clear tall vases.” Once you have the perfect centrepiece, the rest of the tablescape can be brought to life around it.
FOR ALL SHAPES AND SIZES
Each table serves as the canvas for your desired tablescape, but with different venues offering varying table shapes and sizes, there’s no one-size-fits-all display. This gives your stylist the chance to experiment, producing something beautiful that is tailored to the tables in question.
Most venues tend to have either long rectangular tables or round ones, large enough to seat a substantial group of guests. Since these are the most common, your stylist should have plenty of experience working within these parameters. “If the tables are super long and awkward, I’d be wanting to create little zones of flowers, candles and narrow centrepieces that your eyes skip across and land on,” Howes explains. “If the tables are elegantly long and narrow, I’d want to highlight those lovely long lines with a long table runner and extended floral arrangements.”
On the other hand, when the tables are large and round, “drawing the eye into the centrepiece is super important – layers and colours are useful for this”. Howes suggests creating multiple levels through tall vases surrounded by a wreath lower down, “or a mirror and tealights to reflect the canopy”. This is also an effective way of leaving that much-needed space at eye level.
With smaller, cocktail-style weddings becoming more popular, grand displays might not always be an option, however that doesn’t mean your wedding can’t be just as stylish. “The trick with smaller tables is you still need room for drinks and tea plates,” Howes says. “So it’s all about small decorations with a little bit of height.” This could include lanterns, orbs, vases with flowers, and petals around the base.
Of all the tables at the reception, the bridal table is the star of the show, accommodating the guests of honour – namely you and your new husband or wife. While you might be tempted to go all out, Howes advises keeping it relatively simple. “We don’t want anything getting in the way of the bridal table photos,” she affirms. “If the budget allows, I recommend some form of table skirt or long tablecloth so that those in short dresses or kilts can sit comfortably. This may include coloured skirts, softening tulle, structured tiers, or even flowers.” Along with a table covering, Howes encourages couples to consider a backdrop of some kind, whether that’s a floral display, dangling lanterns or lights to complement the modest table décor, which could include a runner, flowers and small candles.
SCOPE FOR YOUR ‘SCAPE
Most weddings tend to lean towards a specific theme around which everything else is created, from the invitations to the bomboniere and, of course, the décor. By working towards a theme – whatever it is you decide on – your tablescapes will make that much more of a statement and remain effortlessly cohesive.
Rustic weddings have certainly climbed their way to the top of the popularity list, and can be executed through a number of styling techniques. “Natural hessian and dried leaves are what rustic is all about,” Howes explains. Rolling napkins with napkin rings made out of dried leaves, for instance, will maintain the formality needed for a wedding while honouring the warm, country-esque aesthetic.
For the perfect fairytale wedding, Howes’ go-to styling tips are “softness, tulle and pastel colours”. “I’d choose a round table dressed with a table skirt and a tulle overlay. [A] tall arch with a draping beaded candle holder [could echo] the castles found in fairytales.” Pastels can manifest through the use of soft-coloured flowers, and fairy lights can add extra ambience.
If you’re more inclined to bold colours and designs, a romantic-themed tablescape might be the one for you. “Romantic can mean many things to many people but most would agree red roses are up the top,” Howes says. A rich colour scheme with black and reds can create drama, perfectly complemented by candles and crystal glassware.
No matter your theme or the types of tables you’re working with, a stunning tablescape replete with an eye-catching centrepiece and complementary elements that work in perfect harmony will be sure to elevate your wedding reception décor, taking it to new heights of styling magic.
Images courtesy of Special Day Creations