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Choosing the Perfect Tablecloth for the Perfect Day

Posted by LO on 7/22/2019
table linen Tablecloths are much more than the surface beneath your plate, especially at a wedding. While we may take them for granted 364 days out of the year, they are arguably one of the most impactful elements of the reception’s presentation. Tablecloths cannot be overestimated as tools for creative expression. Here are some things the happy couple can consider when choosing their tablecloths to make sure the reception hall looks as good as the food tastes and the music sounds.

Make, Rent, or Buy?

Some enterprising couples may be inclined to try to make their own tablecloths. They may reason that if they get a somewhat moderately priced fabric, the tablecloths can be sewn by hand. Millennials are known for their tendency to lean towards DIY projects, and wedding tablecloths are no exception. But considering the average number of wedding guests is around 136 people, a project of this magnitude -- especially when added to the immense amount of other wedding planning that requires your attention -- may not be the most ideal route, depending on your circumstances. In addition to the costs (after all, the fabric you would use likely isn’t free), the time involved must be considered. That said, the questions to ask would be: do I realistically have the time to make tons of tablecloths by hand, and would I really be saving that much by doing so?

Renting may be a more viable path if the tablecloths are truly a one-time use. The pros of renting tablecloths are that it is most often less expensive than purchasing new, and you do not have to allocate the time or effort into making them. However the cons to consider would include possibly a more limited selection in terms of fabrics, shapes, sizes, and colors, the unknown quality or condition of pre-used linens, and that they are not yours to keep once the rental period is over.

Buying new tablecloths can be a bit more expensive, but many of the cons of renting are eliminated. You can choose the perfect material, in the perfect sizes and colors, and know that they will be brand new and in top condition. You can also use your tablecloths for other events in the future, give some to friends and family after the wedding, or resell them afterwards to recoup some of the expense -- after all, they’re yours to do whatever you wish.

The Importance of Size

Tablecloths need to be sized for both the correct table dimensions and the amount of material the couple wishes to hang off the edge of the table (called the “drop”). Don’t guess here. If you know the table sizes that will be used, the next step is to determine how much of a drop you want and then make, rent, or buy your tablecloths accordingly.

A tablecloth that is too short (that is, not enough of a drop) won’t be ideal, nor will a tablecloth that is too long (a drop that results in excess pooling of fabric on the floor). If you know the table size and your preferred drop, there are manual ways to calculate the tablecloth size you’ll need, or there are online tablecloth size calculators that make the task as easy as entering the table’s dimensions and clicking “Calculate”.

One final consideration: regardless of your tablecloth size, and especially if you’re having an outdoor wedding, tablecloth clips are a fantastic and inexpensive way to help make sure that the cloth stays in place. Properly placed tablecloth clips can go a long way towards making the reception experience a comfortable one. However, if a fitted tablecloth is opted for, there may be no need for a tablecloth clip.

Coordinating Accessories

The tablecloth’s impact is maximized when it is combined with the right accessories. The covers for the chairs should either match or complement the tablecloth. The napkins can be of a matching or complementary color as well. If the bride and groom are able to see everything laid out in front of them, they can get an idea as to how the overall ensemble looks, and they can then pick and choose different colors and textures to enhance the appeal.

The table linen is especially important when it comes to matching the centerpiece. Whether it’s the color of the flowers or a ribbon around a vase, matching the flavor of the centerpiece will help bring the whole presentation together. Even a lavish centerpiece with intricate details can be tied into the tablecloth using a swath of fabric.

Napkins should not only complement the color, but the texture as well. That isn’t to say that the napkins must be of the same material, but they should be comparable in look and feel, particularly because some fabrics, due to having a very particular nap, exude a different sense of quality than others. If the napkins feel very cheap and the tablecloth feels expensive, it may present conflicting messages.

If you are using tablecloth clips to secure your table linens, the general rule of thumb is to use one per foot. In other words, a tablecloth clip should be placed about every foot of the table’s edge; you may be able to get away with fewer clips if it is not windy, or you may choose to use more if your wedding is likely to be exposed to high winds.


Making the right choices can make the wedding planning process go smoother for both the couple and the planners. The tablecloth should be seen as a piece that brings together both the wedding aesthetics and the people gathered together on that very special day.


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