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FETE NOIR ET GRIS
There’s just something about decorating with black and white that renders such a profound sense of elegance! Adding touches of gray or pewter or slate seem to make it that much more so.
My sister’s classic Noritake “Whitebrook” china
is always a lovely start to conveying formality and tradition. The china is set atop a double layer of chargers – one beaded silver and the other a rhinestone-studded white. Against the black of the table linen, the dishes really stand out. My favorite International Silver “Royal Danish” sterling
flatware always looks great on a formal dining table.
When setting a formal dining table, I tend to forego fancy napkin folds and just go with something fairly staid. Adding a sheer silver organza beneath the black adds a bit of flair. The clustered dragon tear napkin rings add a bit more shine without going too far overboard.
These “Bella” wine stems from Z Gallerie
are fast becoming a new favorite! The top color reminds me of the color of mercury in the old maximum thermometers. Very sultry!
Each person’s place is marked with a faux mother-of-pearl and rhinestone frame.
Million star gypsophila (a.k.a. “baby’s breath”) makes an airy, elegant statement in this ornately carved silver floral vessel. Baby’s breath floral arrangements are really quite striking and very easy to assemble using floral foam to keep them well-hydrated.
To see other tablescapes using baby’s breath, click here
and scroll down to “Shake, Rattle & Roll ‘Em” or here
for “Princess Pink Birthday”.
I found this fabulous “Josephine” table runner in velvety soft pewter at Z Gallerie
. I love the gentle scrolling.
The table’s look is finished off with a couple of “lamps” which are actually tall silver candlesticks with ornately beaded shades from….drumroll!…Old Time Pottery
!!! The shade design elements complement the place card frames. The lamps are illuminated using LED votive candles on a follower. (Tip #20)
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PLANNING IN PURPLE
Even though I officially retired in 2010, I find myself drawn to lending a hand to friends and family members who are planning a wedding. The week after New Year’s, I found myself hosting an update meeting with the mothers of the bride and groom. (See the engagement party photos, “Love & Orchids” below.) I set up a small table for three near a window so that we could enjoy a view of the untouched snow in our back yard.
We needed room to spread out with notebooks and such, so the table was simply and sparsely set. Beaded edge silver chargers on a crisp white linen were topped with my very traditional Easterling “Majestic” china. When planning a dinner party or luncheon, I try very hard to match the table setting to the taste of the guest(s) of honor. In this instance, both mothers are very traditional, so I stuck with classic pieces including heirloom silver and beautifully cut Mikasa
Remembering that both mothers share a fondness for the color purple, I paired that with silver and white. (They had both lobbied passionately for purple as a wedding color, but lost that battle to the bride.
) It really helped to liven up the tablescape! Tucking a humble purple carnation into each napkin extended the color from the centerpiece.
The silver-painted tree fern from our New Year’s celebration was still going strong, so I pulled it from the plain glass ginger jar from last week and dropped it into a beautiful Waterford crystal vase. It sparkled so nicely against the snow outdoors and the white table linen! (Kept in a cool place – I use our garage – tree fern can last for up to 3 weeks!)
This lively pop of purple carnations is assembled in a shiny silver Revere bowl. So simple to put together in just minutes! I used rhinestone-studded stick pins to adorn each flower to add to the glamour of the table and remind us all of the diamond rings to be exchanged in just 6 short months. (Always remember to cut flower stems on the diagonal to help them take in sufficient moisture from the floral foam. Carnations will keep for a long, long time if you keep them in a cool place with plenty to drink.)
LOVE & ORCHIDS
This engagement dinner party tablescape incorporates two of my favorite design elements: crisp white linens & dishware and fresh orchids!!!
I love these 13″ silver chargers that are a full inch bigger than the standard size! The china is from my sister’s wedding collection, Noritake
‘s “Whitebrook” design. The flatware is perhaps the favorite of my formal sets: International Silver’s
“Royal Danish” sterling.
The color scheme of this engagement dinner tablescape is intentionally almost all white in an attempt to coax the brilliant color of the orchids out a bit more. The menus snatched a bit of the orchid color to break up the flatness.
Each menu item had an ingredient that is associated with love and fidelity. Guests were treated to a one-liner history lesson on the meaning of each. (This one about fertility rites was proffered by the anxious-to-be-a-grandmother-already mother of the groom! I laughed the whole time I was typing it up!!) The opposite side of the folded menu had fun trivia about the couple’s childhood experiences and courtship.
White cotton napkins are folded into a prim little square and placed atop the bread plate with a tiny floral embellishment.
These fabulous orchids were generously provided by my friend, Craig Sole, of Craig Sole Designs
in Overland Park, Kan. The great thing about orchids is that, with proper care, they can last for days on end!
The 31″H glass cylinders (Marshalls
) are anchored with acrylic “ice chips”, and the orchids are partially submerged. The 12″H cylinders are just a bit different sans ice chips and with just a bit of the flower stem peeking above the rim. (Click HERE
for another table using multi-height cylinders.)
Lots of votive candles add shimmer to the table. I used silver floating candles from Pier 1
that I bought nearly 15 years ago (!!!) but never had occasion to use until now. I knew they’d come in handy some day!
These short, squatty glass cylinders were perfect for bringing color closer to the tabletop. The nearby votives illuminate the “ice chips” and water in which the orchids rest.
The sun set just around 7:20, which was perfect for the guests’ 7:30 arrival!
RHAPSODY IN BLUE
My niece & her new husband were treated to a post-nuptial luncheon to celebrate their union. A smattering of “diamonds” brings glitz & sparkle to the wedding tablescape.
Bursts of bright green play nicely off the bride’s chosen colors of French blue & white. Granny Smith apples and juicy green grapes are surrounded by green button mums, spider mums, pink waxflower, Queen Anne’s lace, viburnum, and fragrant Stargazer lilies all spilling from a silver pedestal bowl. The main piece is flanked with green grapes atop simple silver pedestals.
Each lady’s place setting is marked with an oversized “diamond” napkin ring. The gentlemen have simple “wedding bands” of silver. Two chargers – one rhinestone-rimmed and the other a plain silver – mimic the differences in the men’s and ladies’ place settings. The scrolled-edge cream-colored plates are from TJ Maxx, and the quilted table runner and napkins are from Z Gallerie.
Although a simple fare is served (pecan-chicken salad on croissant, honey-dipped fruit on a skewer, assorted cheese slices and kettle chips with strawberry shortcake for dessert), the tablescape still has a decidedly regal feel about it.
DINNER FOR THE LADIES-IN-WAITING
A cozy dinner for six to thank the bridesmaids for their friendship and support is a fancy affair. With so many flourishing young careers in motion, an intimate dinner was more convenient for all than a traditional bridal luncheon.
A white cotton linen is covered with a silver organza overlay for just the slightest bit of shimmer. Silver chargers are topped with Noritake
“Whitebrook” dinner, salad and dessert plates with a bread plate to the left. Heirloom flatware and Mikasa
“Jamestown Platinum” water and wine glasses round out the look. The silver-on-silver design organza napkins have a simple silver napkin ring. Silver candlesticks hold simple white tapers.
The Noritake china has a delicate, very “wedding-like” white-on-white design.
The flowers, arranged in a cut crystal rose bowl, add color, texture and just the slightest bit of fragrance. This bouquet is composed mainly of lilies, hydrangea, Queen Anne’s lace, and roses.
Yellow rose petals scattered among the champagne glasses are a repeat of flowers found in the table florals. Cute individual luncheon-sized cakes are perfect for the occasion!
I don’t host many children’s parties. It’s been so long since I’ve been a child myself that it’s hard to remember what they like! Every so often, though, I’ll take a stab at it, as I did for a favorite client at a recent wedding. The two most important things to keep in mind for a children’s tablescape: simple pleasures and lots of bright colors.
We opted for a separate reception tent exclusively for the kids. Let’s face it: Children get bored stiff at weddings. They need planned activities in their own space, kid-friendly food like chicken fingers and fruit cups, and specialized decor. While we used lots of the couple’s colors of pale green and white in the lush balloon arrangements, I designed personalized placemats and goodie bags in lots of primary colors. You can’t go wrong with a goodie bag! Just fill it with simple items like crayons and coloring books, Play-Doh, miniature Etch-a-Sketch, wrapped candies, Matchbox cars for boys, and Barbie dolls for girls. Always be sure the contents are age appropriate and not on anyone’s recall list!
Please be sure to also visit above tabs Summer, Birthdays, and Fun Stuff for more tables suitable for weddings, showers, bridesmaids luncheons, engagement parties, and rehearsal dinners!