Crafting place settings with style is an art in itself. Every last detail is visualized and meticulously planned to transform the “basic necessities”—plates, stemware, flatware, and napkins—into aesthetic elements. Their color, texture, shape, even relative size and placement on the table are all orchestrated to contribute to the event’s over-all decor. As a result, dining on such place settings is just as much an artistic experience as it is a gustatory one. » Click to view slideshow
The inspiration for these settings may be sparked by the occasion’s color palette, location, theme, or even the season. With any of these as the unifying element, one can then expand and build upon it to achieve place settings nothing short of fabulous. Here are inspiration pointers for doing just that.
A Color-inspired Setting
A classic white porcelain plate and linen napkin provide a base for the elements of this place setting. The pastels appear in a mint green satin ribbon that ties the plate and napkin together like a pretty present, and the pink petite-sized candies that fill a miniature silver-plated basket atop each plate serve as an additional decor accent .
Silver flatware lends a touch of luxury to the setting, with a clear glass cup and saucer reflecting the surrounding glitter. This mix and match of porcelain, clear glass, and silver keep the place setting from being too uniform and bland, while the understated colors and clean lines give it a refined, upper-crust look.
Each setting receives its own gentle lighting from a white candle set on a mirrored coaster ringed with pearls. And for finishing touches, each one has a miniature ivory-colored frame featuring playful cherubs and a petite flowerpot of blush pink roses. Lastly, a scattering of clear sequins serve as subtle yet sparkling decor accent.
A Location-inspired Setting
A wedding celebration held aboard a yacht or by the beach calls for place settings that draw from the location. Colors such as ice blue and ivory, for instance, ideally evoke the image of cool, tranquil waters.
For a place setting with a crisp, refreshing look, an ivory-colored plate laid on an ice blue tablecloth immediately sets the mood. The plate’s square shape with gently upturned corners says organic chic, in keeping with the location-inspired display.
Topping off each setting is a flower-shaped favor bag with petals of pale blue silk shantung, and a single cream-colored shell. Continuing the clean, minimalist look are the perfectly balanced cutlery pieces, each paired with another element: a crystal wine glass and a dainty card holder crafted from seashells. This may hold either a place card with a guest’s name or a miniature menu for the occasion. Bright orange bromeliads in a low glass vase provide a finishing dash of color, as they likewise echo the occasion’s seaside venue.
A Theme-inspired Setting
For a Vintage Theme
The softness of pink and the drama of black combine well for a vintage-themed wedding event held in a country club or an exclusive restaurant. An aura of femininity and romance is set with clusters of fresh pink roses in full bloom dominating the table display. Black bows tucked amidst the blooms temper their sweetness and add a note of sophistication.
This balance of sweetness and sophistication then extends to the place settings. The extravagance of a black lace tablecloth contrasts with the daintiness of a white doily serving as a charger plate and a simple white plate on top of it. A pink table napkin, charmingly folded in the shape of a fan or a bouquet of flowers with a ring of crystal beads, mimics the color of the roses.
The sophisticated, vintage look of this place setting continues with other decor accents such as a satin favor bag beside each guest’s plate. The romantic setting is completed with rose-inspired candles placed singly or in twos or threes in each cluster of pink roses on the table.
For an Exotic Theme
Fuchsia, orange, and violet may come across as an unusual and flamboyant color combination. But, surprisingly, this trio of vibrant colors provides the perfect look for an exotic-themed wedding event.
The basic elements for a place setting featuring these colors could be: a tablecloth in dramatic violet, a gold-leafed charger plate studded with hot pink rhinestones, a classic white dinner plate, a fuchsia table napkin, and a frame filled with brilliant magenta sequins.
These place setting elements can be arranged in a number of different ways:
Layering - Create visual interest by layering the elements one on top of the other. Lay a folded fuchsia napkin across the plate, then balance a golden frame on top of the napkin. Each element then provides a backdrop for the element on top, resulting in each emphasizing and enhancing the other.
Playing Up Colors - Resting on a gold charger plate, highlight a fuchsia table napkin with a gold braided napkin ring with a graceful tassel. The gold of the rope contrast brilliantly with the napkin as it echoes the colors of the charger plate. Lay the napkin and gold frame side by side on the plate for a full display of all the colors.
Adding Finishing Touches - Simple enhancements can create varying visual effects. Standing a gold frame upright on a plate, for instance, adds height and dynamism to the place setting. Tying a satin ribbon around the frame brings a soft touch and an additional color to the display, as it also presents the frame as a “gift wrapped” favor for guests to take home. Surrounding the display with jeweled votive candle holders and paper-wrapped luminaries with exotic symbols highlights these place settings with their subtle glimmer.
For a Tropical Island Theme
Well-chosen key elements are another way of situating a place setting according to the desired theme. In a celebration with a Polynesian or tropical island theme, for instance, a square wooden plate lends the appropriate organic feel. At the same time, its texture contrasts with the soft fabrics around it, while its color simultaneously tempers and enhances the vivid fuchsia, hot pink, and olive green hues of the rest of the place setting.
On top of the plate, a fuchsia napkin is folded to mimic the plate’s square shape and serve as a cushion for the party favor, a seashell-studded frame wrapped in olive green organza. A sprig of fuchsia bougainvilleas laid alongside adds another splash of color, while it brings the tropical outdoors even closer to the guests.
A Season-inspired Setting
The rich combination of dark reds, hunter green, and gold lends itself perfectly to a Christmas season wedding, or a fall reception with a Tuscan theme that is set within the grounds of a museum, a botanical garden, or a wooded park.
For a place setting amidst a table display in these colors, a simple white dinner plate provides a bright, clean contrast. A slim champagne flute with a wine-colored silken table napkin rolled up inside it is an elegant way to add both height and formality to the setting. This is softened with the personal touch of an embroidered sachet, with a leaf-shaped place card casually propped against it.
Candles and even edible elements come into play to further enhance the place setting. A trio of breadsticks in a wineglass echo the gold tones of the table, while delicate ladyfingers lie in an engraved frame doubling as a miniature tray.
Place Settings as Miniature Displays
Place settings are far more than the mere laying out of dining implements. In truth, for occasions as busy as wedding events, place settings become an important means for the hosts to interact with each of their guests, albeit indirectly. With each element thoughtfully selected and arranged, they not only ensure the guests’ pleasure while dining and conversing, but also allows them to enjoy their own miniature displays of the occasion’s color palette, location, theme, and even its season as well.