Tips for Choosing Wedding Table Linens

Tips for Choosing Wedding Table Linens
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Table linens, including tablecloths, napkins, chair covers, and table runners, are an important consideration for any event. They provide both function—protect guests and furniture from stains and spills—and decoration. Many event venues, and some caterers, provide tablecloths and napkins (usually white), but if you want to add a special touch or pop of color to your wedding, you’ll need to buy or rent your own tablecloth linens. To help you with your table linen decision, here are five things to consider:

1. Budget

Your event budget is by far the most important factor when choosing table linens. Because there is such a wide variety of fabrics and styles, linens range greatly in price. For example, a floor length tablecloth for a 5′ round table ranges from $18 to $100 or more. If your budget is tight, be upfront with your event rental company. They can point you to the least expensive fabrics and provide different pricing options, such as using table runners versus table overlays. If your budget allows, a more expensive fabric, such as satin or sequin, can add a touch of glamour to tables and an elevated feel to your event.

2. To Rent or Not to Rent

You may be considering buying linens or borrowing them from a family member or friend. There are plenty of online vendors selling table linens, but keep in mind these products are often a lesser quality (thin material, poorly finished edges) than is available to rent. In addition, many brides opt to rent knowing that after their big day they have little need for 25 tablecloths and 150+ napkins. Re-selling is option, but only works if you have the right number a buyer is looking for, and the time to post and respond to inquiries.

If someone is giving or loaning tablecloths to you, look out for stains. Regular laundry detergent just doesn’t do the trick when it comes to getting out many food and wine stains. Linen companies use heavy-duty commercial laundry products and discard linens that are stained, so you never have to inspect your linens upon arrival. And, as with purchased linens, borrowed linens may be of poor quality and will definitely need ironing. Without the proper setup and equipment, expect to spend 15 to 20 minutes ironing a 10′ long tablecloth—something you might not want to add to your “to do” list.

3. Size and Shape

Tablecloths typically come in two shapes, round and rectangular, and in a variety of sizes. When you ask for a quote on tablecloths, you need to know what size and shape tables you have and how many. Here’s a quick guide for floor length linens (which we always recommend!):

Cocktail Tables: Also called high top tables, cocktail tables are available in 24″ and 30″ round widths and are 42″ tall. For a 24″ round you need a 108″ round linen for a full drop or 120″ linen and sash if you want to gather and tie the fabric. For a 30″ table you need a 120″ round for a full drop or 132″ round tablecloth and sash to gather and tie.

Round Tables: Standard round tables are available in 4′ (seats 6), 5′ (seats 8) and 6′ (seats 10) widths. While a 6′ round table can fit up to 12, 10 is recommended for guest comfort. Smaller 3′ round tables are commonly used for cake tables or sweetheart tables (table for just the bride and groom). Depending on the look you desire, there are different linen sizes.

Banquet Tables: Often used for buffets, dessert tables, head tables, gift tables, place card tables and even guest tables, are typically 6′ or 8′ long and 30″ wide. When planning seating, assume 2′ of space per person. Therefore, a 6′ table can seat 6, or 8 if you choose to place people on the ends. 6″ tables require a 90″x132″ rectangular linen, while 8′ tables use a 90″x156″ rectangular linen. Both tables look great with a table runner, which are typically 120″ long. If you’re covering a buffet or DJ table, we recommend using a full drop linen or skirting to hide supplies, boxes and other items underneath.

4. Fabric, Patterns and Color

Polyester, satin, sequins and more! Today, with so many table linen rental options available you can almost effortlessly compliment your wedding colors and style.

The most popular choice is a standard, solid polyester linen. This is very versatile linen that is affordable and available in a range of colors and sizes. If you want something more elegant, and moderately priced, consider satin or a pintuck. Beyond those, you can choose from textured taffetas, luxurious velvet, faux burlaps (a rustic look in a beautiful, soft linen), sparkling sequins, and more. Typically, the highest priced table linens will be sequin, lace, and embroidered cloths. Love the look, but concerned about price? Then use more expensive linens as a beautiful focal point for head tables, sweetheart, or cake tables.

5. Accessories

Once you have your tablecloths selected, play around with napkins, table runners, chair covers and sashes! Consider mixing colors, patterns, and fabrics to add variety to your decor. For example, pair a basic polyester tablecloth with an eye-catching overlay, table runner, or complimentary colored napkins.

Using table linens to enhance your wedding decor doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. As a leading linen rental provider in New Hampshire, we’ve worked with hundreds of brides and planners to help them select the linens that fit their budget, color scheme, or event theme.

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