Do You Need Linens on Your Reception Tables?

Discover inspiration for both bare and covered table designs.

Do You Need Linens on Your Reception Tables?

Photo: John Solano Photography

As you start to plan the look and feel of your reception, one of the design aspects you'll need to consider is the linens. Traditionally, tables are covered in lush fabrics or lace tablecloths – but thanks to today's trend towards natural, rustic celebrations, couples are beginning to embrace bare tables, too.

The decision of which style to choose depends on how formal, traditional, and lavish your reception will be. Going for a classic design, perhaps inside a ballroom or banquet hall, adorned with plenty of floral arrangements? Tablecloths and linens will help tie the room together and hide any unsightly rental tables. Opting for a relaxed outdoor or tented reception with fresh-picked centerpieces and farm tables? Enhance the rustic theme with tables accessorized only with dishware and one or two linen pieces, like napkins or a burlap runner. This is also an ideal way to show off the beautiful wooden furniture!

Take a look at the pretty receptions below to help you decide whether or not to use linens on your tables! Each style projects a different ambience and attitude, so consider which look best fits your reception design.

Dare to Bare

open white tent

Leaving tables bare creates a more natural, organic look. Suspend garlands of greenery from the tent and chairs, and opt for a grass floor to keep your design fresh. Photo by Catherine Hall Studios

outdoor reception

If an uncovered table is starting to look just a bit too bare, place jewel-toned napkins in various coordinating shades at each place setting for a burst of color. Photo by Amanda McKinnon Photography

wooden rustic table

Beautiful mahogany tables shouldn't be hidden under heavy tablecloths. A burlap runner frames groups of low vases filled with flowers, while still allowing the sophisticated table to shine (literally!). Photo by Mischa Photography; Consulting by Levine Fox Events

elegant wooden table

Even if rustic weddings are not your style, you can still bring elegance to a bare table with small boxes of white flowers, floating candle stands, and miniature chandeliers. Photo by Ryan Phillips Photography; Consulting by Sterling Engagements

Traditional Tablecloths

white wedding tent

All-white weddings are becoming one of the most popular design themes. To emphasize the clean, classic style, utilize white linens that bring a sense of brightness and cheer. Photo by Michael Segal Photography

sequined blue tablecloth

If you love sequins and glitter, now's your chance to bring a touch of glitz to your reception! Sequined linens are fun and oh-so-festive. Photo by Carasco Photography

black white and yellow tables

Patterned linens add another layer of design and style to the reception, and allow you to exercise your creativity – like the bride who paired these black-and-white linens with yellow roses! Photo by Christine Bentley Photography

lace texture tablecloth

Traditional and timeless, a lace or embroidered tablecloth screams "wedding" and instantly adds elegance to the reception. Photo by Weintraub Photography; Design by Sterling Engagements; Rentals by Revelry Event Designers

Opening photo by Mischa Photography