Sarah Balfour says…
Director of Orchid Events
It isn’t always the case that caterers or the venue will provide the table décor. In fact, we always like to style the table according to the style and theme of the event – and this includes the table linen, napkins, cutlery, glassware, all the dinnerware, and any stationery (menus, place cards, table names or numbers). Depending on your budget you may want to hire in everything listed above, or perhaps just some fun water glasses to add colour to your table, as well as of course flowers and candles. It's worth bearing in mind that a good florist will have styling ideas for the tables that will work well with their floral designs, so always consult them as part of the process.
As the bride and groom, it’s important to try to put your stamp on your wedding. Recently, we did a wedding where the couple were really into travel, so we had passport-designed menu covers, and each table was named after a country they had travelled to and loved. We researched historical facts that happened on the date of the wedding and printed historical date cards starting with the most recent.
Bear in mind the hidden costs around delivery and collection. It’s best to try to limit the number of suppliers, so you can limit these kinds of fees. Some venues have very limited access times (e.g. if it’s a museum or historical site) so you may well have restrictions for your deliveries and collections, too. If in doubt, your wedding planner can draw up a schedule for all deliveries and collections, so you know who’s arriving and when. If in doubt, and there’s room in the budget, it could even be worth hiring a separate project manager to ensure seamless set-up and dismantling – otherwise you could be forced to do it all yourself.
Kerry Poulter says…
If the caterers don’t have items you want to use, hire them elsewhere. But there are subtleties to have front of mind – for example, you would usually rent candlestick holders and buy in the candles. We’ve previously had personalised embroidered napkins made for each guest. It may seem more expensive initially, but this then covered napkin hire cost, place name card and wedding favours.
Sometimes it’s worth buying certain pieces – especially as you can sell them on even at a slightly reduce rate, meaning your total cost would still be less than a rental cost. Or some items could be given to the wedding party or family after the wedding. I always work very closely with the florists as everything needs to work well together. It’s also a good idea to liaise with the caterers to make sure there’s enough room for both food and flowers. The last thing you want to be doing is having to move table arrangements to place food down in front of guests.
Double-check damage costs from table linen companies. If candle wax stains the linen will you have to pay a significant damage fee. Also, if you are hiring in crockery or cutlery, make sure you are aware of any additional washing fees that may be added on.
Try and do a mock-up table setting if you can. That way, you can make sure everything works together and introduce lots of different textures that complement each other. Also, instead of having just one colour, it’s worth working with different shades of the same colour to add interest.
It’s your planner’s responsibility to make sure everything goes back to the right supplier in the right way. Ensure the caterers know if things need to be washed or rinsed, and how the items need to be returned. Look into small details like this before the wedding and make sure the different suppliers are aware of what needs to happen when. Extra jobs can then be accounted for, and there’s no last-minute running around on the day.
And Here Are The Services We Rate…
FOR FASHION-FORWARD BRIDES: Maison Margaux
Having worked on events for big names like Vogue, Maison Margaux has a rental tableware collection worth knowing about. Styled to create beautiful tablescapes for weddings and events, brides should start by browsing the brand’s inspiration galleries to view the collection of plates, glassware, linen and cutlery. Even better, the team deliver globally and, where possible, next day delivery is also available.
FOR THE PERSONAL TOUCH: Beyond The Table
Beyond The Table sources sustainable glassware, flat lay and crockery. Owner Sarah will design your bespoke tablescape based on your event, style, occasion and season, so you can wow your guests with beautiful place settings, centrepieces and styling. Every tablescape is unique, with personalised elements available, so your guests will have something to take home to remind them of your day. All suppliers are handpicked to ensure every element is considered and selected with you in mind – plus, your tablescape will be delivered and set up ahead of the event, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the run-up knowing everything is taken care of.
FOR EASY SET-UP: Lay London
Lay London’s rental service couldn’t be easier to use. Simply head to the ‘Lay My Table’ section on the website to choose your look, stating your party size and date, then checkout to secure your booking – someone from the team will be in touch to confirm availability. Lay will then deliver everything your door, at a time convenient for you, with all the tableware packed and labelled so you can set the table with ease. If you prefer one of its experts to do it, this can be arranged. After you’re done, pop the tableware through the dishwasher, repack your look and the team will collect it.
FOR THE WHOLE PACKAGE: Duchess & Butler
From charger plates to chairs, and even wedding backdrops and display hire, Duchess & Butler has it all. Use its carefully acquired selection of decorative items to create inspired, unique and beautiful tablescapes for your event – its products come from all over the world so you are guaranteed a personalised look. With a creative eye for detail, it offers dry hire on the entire rental collection, as well as a full styling service for clients wanting to elevate their wedding day. Plus, the team has recently launched a shop for customers wanting to bring the collections into their homes after the big day is over.
FOR BITS & BOBS: Rustic Hire
While tablescapes aren’t exactly what it’s known for, Rustic Hire has all the bits and pieces you need to transform your venue. From beautiful folding tables made from reclaimed oak, vintage folding chairs from Chicago to a bar made from Georgian pine and mahogany, there are plenty of large ticket items available to hire if needed. If not, we love the ‘small décor’ section of the website, which offers everything from champagne buckets to vintage glass jars and vases.
FOR BLOW-THE-BUDGET DESIGN: Fiona Leahy
Regular SL readers will know how much we love Fiona Leahy’s work –if you want to make your wedding day stand out from the rest, she’s the name to know. With exceptional attention to detail, and accessories and looks you won’t see anywhere else, she works closely with clients to ensure their vision is brought fully to life. Her expert team can also advise on what’s worth keeping and returning, as well as helping with set-up and dismantling.
Follow @FionaLeahyDesign on Instagram
FOR PRETTY PIECES: Dress For Dinner
Dress For Dinner has just launched its Wedding Edit, which is full of beautiful glassware, linens and décor to dress your table. A rental service – which will include many of these products – is currently in the works, so future brides are advised to contact the company directly for more details. If you do decide to purchase items instead, the team can arrange for bulk order discounts or additional stock.
FOR LOCAL SERVICE: Amor Decor Events
Run by sisters Rachel and Victoria out of Devon, Amor Decor Events offers a beautiful range of items for hire, to give your tables the wow factor. Whether your theme is classic, contemporary or something else entirely, these specially selected items will help you create a personal, stylised look full of meaningful touches. Just bear in mind that the small team only covers southwest England for now.
FOR WHIMSICAL ELEGANCE: Mrs Alice
Another SL favourite, Mrs Alice is a treasure trove of beautiful homeware with individual flair. But did you know you can also hire Alice Naylor-Leyland to design a bespoke tablescape for your wedding? She will make sure your guests are treated to the chicest tableware and decorations – plus, with her renowned online shop, there’s always the option to buy various pieces to incorporate them into your forever collection.