Tablescaping: Turning Dining Tables into Captivating Stages

What is Tablescaping

Setting the table is a universal activity. All across the world people gather around tables strewn with plates, glasses, napkins and silverware to share a meal; where they are and what they are eating is inconsequential. Residing in the city or the country doesn’t matter either; families in farmhouses, high rise condominiums, and suburban bungalows all share a common activity: the gathering around a table in order to consume a communal meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

Most times setting the table occurs simply out of necessity: after all, you and your family require dishes and cutlery in order to consume your food. But sometimes, perhaps prior to a holiday feast or a special occasion, you wish to amp up the appearance of your dinner table setting. 

You want to move beyond the requisite plates, glasses and silverware. By dressing it up and adding decorations to your table, you work to make it appear special, festive, and welcoming to your friends and family. This “act of creatively and intentionally arranging a tabletop so that it conveys a specific theme, mood, or experience” is called tablescaping, and it is a very large component of any professional event.

The Importance of Tablescaping:

If food is drama, then the table is the stage. Similar to the backdrop of any play, tablescaping sets the mood and creates the atmosphere for the meal about to be consumed. With the addition of mere decorative touches, tablescaping manages to convey a specific message. This overall plan for a table is critical, for it creates the “focal point of the space – an area where long-lasting memories are created”. 

Tablescaping addresses the entire surface of the tabletop, as well as the venue surrounding it. This can include a table cloth and runner, place settings, centrepieces, and signature items and embellishments central to the event’s theme. Every item in the tablescape is carefully selected to compliment the objects on the table and the venue space. Not unlike a play once again, a successful tablescape will bring the theme to life, and enhance the flow of interaction between the diners, as well as the food itself.

Keys to a Successful Tablescape:

A successful tablescape can evoke many feelings in your guests including: a warm sense of welcome, feelings of excitement and anticipation, as well as happy memories of previous celebrations. So how do you achieve this?

  • Take a look at what is trending. Similar to clothing and interior design, tablescaping is sensitive to what is currently in fashion.
  • Always keep in mind not only what the event is, but who your guests are. For example, if your attendees are environmentally friendly, incorporate natural elements in your design.
  • Your tablescape must always remain functional. Although it is paramount for the tabletop to be aesthetically pleasing, your guests need to be able to sit down and eat at it as well.
  • Items displayed on the tabletop should not impede your guests’ views of one another. Keep in mind that one of the goals of your tablescape is to enhance the event and encourage conversation among the attendees. Therefore, the decorations should be either above or below your guests’ eye level. A tip is to sit down at the table in order to gauge the guests’ sight line.
  • The entire tabletop should incorporate a series of smaller groupings. These vignettes should work as smaller parts of the whole. In other words, every embellishment should make sense within the overall design.

Components of a Successful Tablescape:

A goal of any tablescape is to wow the attendees. So what components can you include that will impress your guests?

  • Include a creative use of scale, colour and texture with the use of varied heights, and repeated patterns and shapes. Keep in mind that your design should incorporate a sense of balance and harmony among the shapes, colours and textures of every item chosen.
  • Use a design that emphasizes height and volume, such as a tablescape canopy. This might include greenery and flowers placed upon tall pedestals. This creates an initial stunning, colourful impression of floating foliage, while remaining above your guests’ eye line when seated.
  • Mood and atmosphere can be created with carefully chosen dishes and glassware. Different patterns and colours can be mixed and matched to create an eye catching design with well-placed pops of colour. These colourful table settings can add a vibrant element to your tablescape while emphasizing a specific mood. A tip is to always include dishes and glassware with at least one colour found throughout the rest of the tablescape, in order to tie it all together.
  • Add drama above the table by hanging an element of your overall design. For example, greenery and lights can be hung from the ceiling to impress your guests. A tip to ensure cohesiveness, is to include elements of your table décor within your hanging design.
  • Make part of your tablescape edible. Fruit can be incorporated as part of a lush arrangement to add life as well as colour to your table setting.

Taking Tablescaping to the Next Level:

Tablescaping is an important cog in the Event and Wedding Planner’s wheel. Although it is normally considered to be one aspect of a Planner’s duties, it can be taken to the next level.

  • Tablescaping can be a specialized career. A professional tablescaper can be hired directly by Event Planners or other individuals to design creations for organized events. Clients could also include high-end hotels, premium car companies and venues such as conference centres and banquet halls.
  • There is even competitive tablescaping. Professional tablescapers create tabletops according to specific themes and requirements. They are judged on creativity, originality, use of colour, interpretation of the theme, presentation, and correctness of the place setting.

Tablescaping is a very important aspect of a Certified Event & Wedding Planner’s™ role. A creative tabletop design can imbue a specific mood, atmosphere and experience. 

By utilizing a variety of colourful, vibrant components, an Ultimate Planner can use the tablescape to bring an event’s theme to life, and make it one to remember.

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