By Anna Sachse - CTW Features | posted on September 20, 2011 at 10:02am
Think outside the plain white china box with unconventional place settings
Whether it’s plates with an usual shape or pattern, colored glass goblets, mismatched vintage pieces, wooden dishes and utensils or place settings that complement your theme or locale, creative tableware makes for a more interesting tablescape and lends automatic personality to your event.
Because the standard basic items (round, white plates, clear glasses, uninspired silverware) are easily available, the option for different tableware is often overlooked when contemplating wedding reception décor, says Brooke Sheldon, a wedding planner with Lilybrooke Events in Kennebunkport, Maine. But the possibilities are really only limited by your imagination.
Start with the china. The easiest way to change things up is with pattern, says Anne Chertoff, senior editor for Brides.com. Instead of going with the basic white china, brighten up your tablescape with plates that feature colorful flowers or bold scroll work around the borders, and don’t be afraid to mix and match if it suits the tone of your soiree. For example, at a wedding held at a former private mansion, Sheldon used mismatched antique Victorian china, including coffee cup and saucer. “Each place setting was completely unique in terms of color and style,” says Sheldon, “but they all complemented each other and contributed to the overall historic, formal feel of the event.”
Selecting china with a glaze that matches your wedding colors or décor also is an option; however, you want to be careful that both color and pattern don’t detract from the presentation of the food. Many chefs tend to prefer Asian-inspired colors such as matte black, mustard yellow and soft celadon green. “The plate is essentially a canvas for the meal,” says Chertoff, “so, before settling on unusual china, meet with your caterer to ensure the food you are serving will still look its very best.”
If you’d prefer to stick with white, consider going with an unusual shape, such as ovals, diamonds or triangles, for the entrée or use multiple shapes to really make a statement with each course. According to Sheldon, square plates are particularly popular right now. “They add a modern, architectural feel to the décor,” she says, especially atop square tables, which are also a new trend.
The Glass Game
Another easy way to add flair to your tabletop is with the glassware. Try large water goblets in soft hues that let the light through, says Sheldon, or opt for brightly colored tumblers to match a fiesta theme, says Chertoff. Mason jars, both big and small, have also been a popular choice lately at outdoor weddings or receptions with a farm or country feel - use them for water, iced tea or a signature cocktail. And don’t stop there: vintage champagne glasses or silver-rimmed tumblers add old-fashioned elegance; coffee served in mismatched teacups amps up the charm; or, for a truly offbeat wedding, consider personalizing drinking mugs and giving them to guests as favors after dinner.
Flatware That Shine
Although there are fewer options for flatware that really makes a striking statement, you can still get choosy about the shape and material. Modern flatware, with a thin, narrow, straight handle, is an easy way to manipulate a plain white plate into something more sophisticated, says Sheldon. Or, if your wedding has a casual, picnic-like feel, look into bamboo flatware or other “green” utensils. An Asian-inspired celebration might benefit from chopsticks. “Just be sure that you also have forks available for guests who aren’t chopstick-savvy,” says Chertoff.
Ethnicity, history, formality, personal style, the venue and the town where you are getting married can all play a part in inspiring interesting tableware choices. Keep in mind, however, that while unconventional items can really tie the table together or even take the place of elaborate centerpieces, you don’t want to overdo it. The first reason is that it could end up looking tacky and distract from the main focus of the night, which is your marriage! The second reason is budget-related.
“If you already have to rent your china, there may not be a big difference between the price of square plates and circles, or between plain white and patterns,” says Chertoff. “But if you don’t have to rent, asking for something special could up the cost significantly.”
In these instances, you might want to stick to just one unusual item, such as quirky flute for the champagne toast or a playful plate for the dessert, or consider getting more creative with your linen and placemats.
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