8 Tips on How to Set a Beautiful Table

A tablesetting with pink taper candles that look
April 11, 2022

There are so many elements that go into planning a wedding/event—and food plays a central part! While serving delicious cuisine is of utmost importance, we have to think about where guests are dining. Guests spend a lot of time at their table eating, drinking, toasting, and talking to one another, so it's crucial to set the table correctly and make it a beautiful and inviting space. Here’s a guide to creating a tablescape that will leave a lasting impression!

What You Need

The plates

Each guest should start out with three plates: a bread plate, salad plate, and dinner plate. You can also add charger plates for a decorative touch. Additional plates depend on what you are serving. For example, you might need a bowl for soup or pasta, as well as a dessert plate for pastries, cookies, or fruit that will be placed on the table.

The silverware

If you’re going with a formal dinner setting, then be sure to position your silverware as follows: Forks are to the left of the plate, knives, and spoons to the right. Bread-and-butter plates sit above the forks, to the left of the place setting.

The glasses

Stemware is set above and to the right of the dinner plate. You will need a water glass, a wine glass (which can be taken away by the wait staff if the guest is not drinking wine), and a champagne flute if you’re having a toast during the speeches.

A person in a white dress setting a table with pink taper candles and a place setting with white dishes and glasses

Creating a Gorgeous Table

1. Get personal

Natalie Pinney of Whim Events draws inspiration from the couple’s home, travels, or experiences. Ask the couple/clients to think about their favorite restaurants, what décor was memorable to them, or how their family used to set the table for special dinners, or even the textures and colors they loved on their last vacation. 

2. Consider the venue

While the table doesn’t have to exactly match the style of the wedding location, you can take any unique characteristics of the venue and weave them into the table design. If it's a forest, include lots of earthy elements and fresh greenery, if it's a garden, don't forget to include roses!

yellow tablescape outdoors
Photos courtesy of Tulle & Tweed Photography

3. Choose the right centerpieces

Be sure to take the formality of the event and the overall vibe you’re trying to attain into consideration. According to Pinney, high centerpieces elevate a black-tie wedding, while lower centerpieces are perfect for garden-inspired celebrations. And your centerpiece doesn’t have to be solely florals. “Consider adding fruitscapes to the table too—pears, grapes, peaches, grapefruit, etc.,” she says. “These yummy fruits become conversation pieces and fill cozy nooks and crannies on long tables.” If there's a theme, strategically place items that reflect the theme on the table. If it's vintage, include gaslamps and vintage frames, if it's in a library, include stacks of classic books and place florals/ table numbers on them.  

4. Communicate with the caterer

It’s always a good idea to ask the catering team what is functional on the table. For example, if you are investing in a stunning charger, remember to ask your catering team to only clear the charger after the dinner course— not before—to truly make the most of it.

Tablescape and food served
Photo courtesy of Eastlyn and Joshua

5. Mix it up

You don’t have to decide between round and square tables—why not have both?! It will draw guests' eyes around the room and creates unique visual interest. If you are using both shapes, Pinney recommends selecting chairs and china that are aligned to maintain a consistent look and feel.

6. Keep place settings neutral

The trend right now is neutral color palettes, clean lines, and minimalist style, says Pinney. Try a stunning ceramic plate, an etched water glass, a simple velvet napkin, and contemporary flatware. Pair this with bud vases of wispy white florals and lots of candlelight.

Neutral tablescape
Photos courtesy of Heather Kincaid Photographer

7. Skip the sprig

Placing a sprig of greenery at each place setting is a trend that has definitely seen its day. Instead, Pinney suggests investing in designing personalized menus that add character and layer to the design. 

8. Include candles 

Always, always, always include candles or some kind of lighting. Florals and candles are staples to any beautiful tablescape. It's the flickering light that makes for an ambient and elegant atmosphere.

Rows of tables with candles
Photo courtesy of Emilie Olson


The Aisle Planner Design Studio & Style Guides are perfect for organizing inspiration, colors, textures, and everything design-related. Use the Layout & Seating Tool to Create Table Mock-Ups that will leave behind any guesswork. You and your clients can visualize exactly what everything will look like right in Aisle Planner! Have fun with it and remember that you have the expertise to create the most lovely dining experience. Happy setting!


About the Author

Aisle Planner Editorial Team
Aisle Planner Editorial Team
The Aisle Planner Editorial Team is a collective of creative writers, editors, and former event pros who obsess over weddings and special events—and the businesses behind them! Drawn to refined details, design, and creativity, our team provides intelligent and straightforward articles with insights, practical tips, and expert guidance in putting Aisle Planner's "Power of One" behind your business.