Thursday, October 5, 2017

Romantic Home Wedding Part Two: Dreamy Table Setting Tips

Creating a romantic mood was the goal for this backyard wedding.  Our yard
is a very small space with a series of terraces, and so each space had it's own function.  The upper level with the arbor was to be the ceremony area.  Walking through the arbor would lead to the garden shed, and that is where the musicians played for the cocktail hour and the ceremony.  The bride and groom said their vows in front of the arbor with an officiant. The bride wanted a storybook  romance for the ceremony, and what better way to do that, than to sprinkle three thousand pink rose petals on a pathway leading to the arbor.  A small cabbage and mum garden had been planted for the wedding, and two large urns were flanking the "stage".  
 To make it romantic, I placed cut roses in water vials and tucked them in between the cabbage plants.  Then I draped a swath of tulle between the handles of the urns for an enchanted effect.
 Cabbages, silver leafed Dusty Miller, Roses and trailing flowering vines from an earlier summer planting (which we didn't remove) made for beautiful and inexpensive arrangements.
 We kept the arbor simple, with a draping of two rows of white tulle for extra fullness, and tied it off at the sides with the Costco satin ribbon and bunches of white roses and silver lambs ears from Walmart.  Yes, Walmart.  They have some terrific faux flowers at ridiculous prices, less than $3.00 a bunch or stem.  From a distance you couldn't tell they were faux, and they repeated the live flowers in the urns below.
 The day of the wedding we knew to expect rain, which was a bummer.  But it had to be dealt with, and with the tent to cover the dining area, we needed a large umbrella to cover the musicians, who would sit in front of the shed.  The "cocktail lounge" was our regular furniture arranged on another level, next to the tent.  If it was rainy we decided our contingency plan would be cocktails in the living room before the ceremony. 
And that is what did end up happening, as you can see from this fantastic collage photo
by our friend and photographer, Matthew Mead.  I set a self service bar up on the piano,
leaving guests to help themselves so I could greet others as they arrived,
 before we all headed out to the tent to watch the ceremony.
 Since it was a rainy day, I never got any pics of the tent from this angle, but here you can see how tight the space was for the tent.  Exactly 15'x15' it fit perfectly next to the house, and once inside the tent you would easily see the wedding ceremony because it was raised, much like going to the movies where you can see over the people in front of you.  The tiny black and white umbrella was set up because I had engaged the services of a "live event painter" to paint the event.  So these extra umbrellas were necessary, though not ideal.  However once inside the tent,  they did not take away from the prettiness of the scene. We even purchased a patio heater. because temps dropped for the wedding day to make it the most unpleasant day of the entire month!! UGH.
But as we do tend to be lucky in life, the rain stopped right before the ceremony, and although cool, it worked out well.  Above you can see the table layout and the open tent on the far end revealing the raised lawn where the arbor is located.  My pal Matthew Mead is shooting the couple in the background, as more pics were taken right after the ceremony and before dinner.  
We rented the standard white plastic folding chairs at $2 each, and then laid 2 six foot tables end to end so we were able to accommodate the most people in the space. Two tables of 14 each, which was 4 more than if I had put in four round tables.  I recommend doing a floor plan and allowing 2 feet per dining space, per chair at a table.  
(center aisle space measured 6 feet between tables)
We compromised that a bit on the ends by adding seats at the ends but it worked out fine.  Allow 2 feet per chair to pull out and tuck in, and then another 2 feet for a walkway, so we had six feet of space for the center pathway between tables, allowing for 2 feet on each table side for the chairs, and it was plenty roomy for people to get through the tent.
My favorite part of any dinner party is setting the table.  A small wedding is just like a nice party.  If you think of it that way, you won't be overwhelmed.  I had 20 vintage French napkins with pretty monograms that I wanted to use, and I filled in the remaining needed with plain white cotton flour sack kitchen towels from Walmart, sold in a bundle of 6 for just a few dollars.  They are big like the French linen napkins, often called "Lapkins" because they cover your entire lap.  You could use all flour sack towels and stencil monograms for a very pretty effect. Our color theme was basically white and gold, but we added touches of pink.  I don't like the use of a lot of color in wedding decorations, as I think it can look too strong and garish.  So skip the colored linens and go all white and add accents of color in the flowers, the votives and ribbons, as we did for our napkins.
We cut the pretty embroidered ribbon from Joann Fabrics into strips 15" long to tie around each napkin as a pretty accent.  The embroidered pattern was certainly romantic. The pink glass votives were purchased from Joann Fabrics as well, using their coupons for an added discount.
Four patterns of gold rimmed china dinner plates were mixed and matched from my collection of vintage dinnerware.  I had to buy a half dozen extra gold and white plates at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store to give me enough to set 28 places.  Thrift stores are a great place to pick up things like fancy plates for a song.  This shot was taken while we were setting the table the morning of the wedding.  Mimi hand printed place cards to let the guests know where to sit as well as to lend a formal aspect to the wedding dinner. 
We rented all the stemware from the tent rental company.  The glasses came in cases of 25 for about $11 a case.  After the wedding, no washing, just put back in the case and the tent company took them away.  This was a great thing, as we had champagne flutes, water goblets and wine glasses for each place setting. Just look at the dining tables you see on Downton Abbey, set with so many goblets....the more glasses, the richer looking the table!  Since I had 28 diners, I only needed to fill in the blanks for 3 guests, so we had the wedding couple use my Waterford glasses and our youngest son got the "mismatched" stemware.  No one was the wiser.  
For the flatware I combined my sterling service for 18 with my mother in laws service for 8, then added two services in silver-plate for a very elegant table setting.  One could easily set a table in gorgeous silver plate, found at most vintage and thrift shops for little money.  At home we use vintage silver plate services for our everyday knives, forks and spoons.  (I hate eating a nice dinner with crummy silverware.  It bugs me!)  
 Other details that made the table setting memorable, was adding special seating for the bride and groom.  You could use your own dining chairs adorned with ribbons or a fancy settee, like this one that I have in my dining room.  I added two needlepoint cushions to give it that extra dose of romance.
I painted and gilded the bench to echo their pretty wedding invitation in grey and gold.
It made for a special  focal point for the bride and groom
And at the end of the night....  
Champagne still chilling, half filled glasses abandoned, and other detritus of the night.
Love this photo and the story it tells.
A lot of little details all add up to create a night to remember.
 One of the few pics I stopped to take, as if on the outside looking in. 
 The tent was like a magical tee-pee, making for a memorable yet affordable wedding.
So much cozier than a big ballroom, it was personal and joyful being tucked inside with one another.
We created a fairy tale wedding  
and it didn't cost a fortune.  
Next time,  Part Three
  More details on getting that dreamy fairy tale look and
 the "splurge" I couldn't resist!

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  1. Fairy tale indeed.... everything you do or touch his magical Amy. You gave your son and daughter-in-law such a wonderful day to remember forever.
    The Empty Nest

  2. I'm enjoying this so much. It couldn't have been any prettier. I love the coziness of the tent... ...and the cloudy day just makes the lights that much prettier. I swear you thought of everything!


  3. It is all just gorgeous. I am so glad it quit raining before the wedding. My best friend had an outdoor wedding and it POURED all morning. About noon the sun came out and burned bright and hot and everything dried up-so we ended up with a beautiful day. However, the idiot next door decided to MOW HIS LAWN during the reception. LOL One in every neighborhood. lol

    Can't wait to see your 'splurge', Ms Amy! xo Diana

  4. Beautiful, you are so clever....

  5. Enchanting storybook setting was accomplished! Fabulous!

  6. Fairy Tale indeed!!!....Do I see another career path? LOL! I am sure the bride and groom were ecstatic over the most enchanted wedding you created for them (with the help of many others too) ... and of course you painted that bench to match the invitation!!....How great that your great friend Matthew and his wife were part of the special day to share the magical moments and lend their can I venture to say that the splurge was the painting?

  7. Love how you kept the costs down, yet still beautiful and elegant this whole $50,000 wedding thing is out of control. Kudos to all of you for not following the crowd

  8. Everything is stunning. Thank you so much for sharing this very special day. What a thoroughly enjoyable recap. All The Best.

  9. Amy it is so much fun reading about the makings of your son and daughter in law's Fairy Tale Wedding.
    You have done an amazing job and I won't be surprised if photos show up in an upcoming Magazine spread.


  10. What a beautiful and romantic wedding. Your post was full of great ideas! We used our own antique linen napkins too at my wedding! Congratulations to the beautiful couple!


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