How to Set Up a Proper Event Table

When you look at event photos, there’s one thing that they all have in common: incredible tables! If you don’t have a professional event planner handy, setting up a perfect event table can look like an insurmountable task — but don’t worry. There are rules you can follow — and here they are!

1. Choose the Table
The most basic question about an event table is “What’s going on there?” Are people going to be seated or standing? Are they going to stay there the whole event long, or will there be lots of up-and-down? Choose a table that matches what you want your guests to be doing, figure out how many guests you expect, vs. how many can reasonably use a table, and make sure you have sufficient table space for all your guests.

2. Select a Color Palette
The next thing you need to choose is the color palette for your overall event. Looking at the colors in the space around the table, pick two colors from the palette that complement those colors without matching them. One color should lean strongly neutral, the other should be bold and attention-getting. If your event doesn’t have a palette determined yet, you can find a load of palette-creating tools online with a quick search.

3. Pick a Linen
For most casual or business events, you’ll want the linen to be fairly neutral. For an over-the-top formal or party atmosphere, pick a bold color from your palette that stands out from the colors immediately around it. So pick a table linen that fits your table (meaning it drapes to knee-height for a sitting event or just above the floor for a standing event) in whichever of your chosen two colors is netural-ish or bold-ish, depending on the flavor of your event.

4. Choose an Overlay/Runner
The table runner or overlay is going to be the other of the two colors you picked previously, and can also have a pronounced pattern or texture on it if it fits with the rest of your theme. If you choose a pattern, it’s easiest to pick a two-tone pattern where one tone very nearly or precisely matches the table linen and the other is your second color. The neutral overlay/runner over a bold linen (or vice versa) adds a visual balance that make both situations more dramatic.

5. Decide on Accessories
Every event table, no matter how minimalist the event, needs some basic decorations — even if it’s just in the form of exotic wine glasses. Most tables, however, benefit significantly from theme- and palette-appropriate flowers, candles, and/or centerpieces.

6. Match the Chairs
Once the table itself is complete, you’ll want to choose chairs that match — not necessarily ‘match’ as in ‘are the same color/pattern,’ but as in ‘chairs that look appropriate next to the table and are functional for their intended use.’ If you can’t find the perfect chair to use as-is, you can always rent or acquire chair covers, add-on cushions, or other options to perfect your event table.

Need help setting up an event table to match your theme? Look no further than our design team to create a custom table for your occasion.