Napkin Folds That Will Elevate Your Reception Tables

charles andrew wedding blue green place setting
Photo: Abby Jiu Photography

Don't underestimate the power of the smallest details.

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linda robert wedding place setting
Vicki Grafton Photography

Attention to detail is one key factor that separates good weddings from truly great ones, and creative napkin folds are the perfect example of how the littlest details can make a major impact. While napkins are undoubtedly a necessary part of your tabletop design, their method of display doesn't need to be standard or plain. In fact, we think it should enchance the rest of the décor choices you've made.

Gone are the days of triangular pyramid napkin folds: From elegantly decontructured folds to crisp and contemporary napkin designs, couples are getting more creative with these dinnertime staples. Why even bother with special napkin folds? Well, first impressions matter, and this is a great way to set the tone for your celebration. Maybe you chose to have a traditional ceremony but you want to let loose at your reception and really get the party started. An edgy tablescape with dark napkins will immediately communicate to guests that they're in for a change of pace. Alternatively, a linen hemstitch napkin with a fold highlighting a custom monogram will let guests know to expect a classic, elevated evening. Whatever artistic direction you choose, a thoughtful napkin fold that matches your wedding's style will leave a lasting impression.

Beyond creative folds, you can use your napkin design as a chance to bring additional details, like ribbon or napkin rings, into your place setting. Take this place setting designed by Linda Ha for example. Instead of simply laying a menu card on top of the textured gray napkin, Ha chose to use a contemporary gold paper clip to connect the two elements. The overall effect was chic and polished.

Ahead, we rounded up more unique napkin folds and accessories to inspire your own big-day choices. No matter your aesthetic, you'll find your perfect finishing touch here.

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Simple Rectangle

All-White Cluster centerpieces with Ranunculus
Lucy Cuneo Photography

One of the most elegant napkin folds just so happens to be the simplest: the rectangular fold. The napkin edges are tucked out of sight and the whole fold serves as an understated base for a dinner menu or place card. Rebecca Rose Events accented this large rectangular fold with a single gardenia bloom to reference the blooms featured in the couple's cluster centerpieces.

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Pocket Fold

rae rob wedding table place setting
Joel Serrato

A pocket fold brings cohesion to a place setting by making the napkin and menu card one entity, like Laurie Arons Special Events did here. For a streamlined, contemporary setting, this is the way to go.

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Oversized Pockets

marianne patrick reception place setting
Lacie Hansen Photography

Pocket folds vary in depth and this particular design pocketed nearly the entire menu. If your menu card features a crest or calligraphy detail at the top, this is a great option. It hides the type featured on the rest of the menu, bringing focus to the top motif or detail.

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Monogram Details

jenna alok wedding wine country california table setting
Corbin Gurkin

While this Jenna Lam Events tabletop featured a standard rectangular fold, there was nothing plain about the look. An ornate monogram from DCL Productions was front and center and any other style of fold likely would've detracted from the overall effect.

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Tiny Square

wedding reception napkin folds rust red napkin folded in tight rectangle
Charla Storey Photography

Dramatic contrasts in size can be striking. Here, the rust red linen was folded into a tight rectangle, nearly the same size as the place card, bringing a unique play on proportions to the design dreamt up by Grit & Gold Events. We also love how the napkin color tied in seamlessly with the We + You floral centerpieces.

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A Simple Turn

rebecca clay rehearsal dinner centerpiece
Kayla Barker

Rotating a classic rectangular fold 90 degrees adds a whole new feel to the place setting. Here, the change played up the whimsical vibe of the reception.

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Perfectly Perpendicular

wedding reception napkin folds beige napkin in rectangular fold
Vicki Grafton Photography

Menu cards typically lay in the same direction as the napkin, but Chic Weddings Italy arranged this napkin perpendicular to Written Word's menu. The rectangularly folded beige linen subtly paralleled the table runner and La Rosa Canina garland, creating a cohesive display.

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wedding reception napkin folds napkin folded in half beneath place setting
O'Malley Photographers

By only folding this napkin in half once, Sinclair & Moore kept the surface area large enough for it to serve almost as a placemat. The choice of a light La Tavola linen as a base helped ensure the black la Happy stationery popped.

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Napkin Ring

Michael Radford

A napkin roll is timeless option that's surprisingly versatile. Here, the gold napkin ring, which referenced the gold-rimmed chargers seamlessly, was truly the star of the show.

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Garden Party

place setting
Corbin Gurkin Photography

A gold-foil printed menu was rolled around a linen napkin before being tied together with a sprig of greenery and gold thread. With everything resting atop botanical-inspired plates, the whole look was perfect for a garden party.

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Less Is More

pink and blue floral centerpiece
Michael Radford

When the rest of your tablescape is bright and bold, a simple napkin fold ensures that your design elements don't compete with each other. Here, sapphire table runners and a jewel-toned centerpiece were complemented by an understated napkin roll.

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Bright and Bold

fruit and veggie centerpieces megan welker
Megan Welker Photography

When your plates are ornate, it would be a shame to cover them up. That's why the placement of these bright yellow napkins (all the way at the tops of the plates) makes sense. The gold rings were the perfect finishing touch.

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Lending Support

whitney zach wedding menu on plate gold flatware
Jose Villa

A La Tavola Fine Linen napkin was folded into a thick rectangle to serve as a stand for menu cards on this elegant table.

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New Heights

wedding reception napkin folds napkin rolled on top of plate displaying menu
Elisa Bricker

Feel free to get creative with your folds. Here, Fête in France combined the look of a roll with a fold to create a napkin display that added a little extra dimension to the tabletop. The extra height also ensured that the Studio French Blue menu cards were displayed beautifully.

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Horizontal Wrap

dani jackson wedding place setting
Erich McVey

Take a cue from wedding stationery when deciding on an appropriate napkin fold. Belly bands are often secured around wedding invitations and this napkin acted similarly by wrapping horizontally around the gold rimmed charger.

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Patterned Wrap

kendall nick wedding place setting
Abby Jiu Photography

While some napkin folds effectively hide most of the linen, a horizontal wrap left much of this beige Buffalo plaid La Tavola Fine Linen napkin visible, adding to the rustic tabletop feel.

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Vertical Wrap

wedding place setting with men and floral arrangement
Katherine Ann Rose

A wraparound fold doesn't have to be horizontal. This vertical wrap lined up nicely with the menu card and contrasted the table's indigo Casa de Perrin plates perfectly.

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Neutral Napkins

wedding reception napkin folds gray napkin folded around charger
Ashley Rae Photography

A gray BBJ Linen napkin reinforced the romantic feel of this Modern Grace Events tablescape. Wrapped tightly around an ornate The Confetti Studio charger and finished with a wax seal-clad Nora Belle Designs menu, the whole look was absolutely ethereal.

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Monochromatic Pairing

christina matt wedding charleston sc table setting
Corbin Gurkin

Setting your reception tables with both a salad plate and charger lends your design to endless possibilities. Here, a vertical wrap napkin fold was artfully sandwiched between two plates for a textured blue-on-blue effect.

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Layered Napkin

compote centerpieces pink roses and pale pink table setting
Ashley Ludaescher Photography

To mirror the table's beige runner, this napkin creatively featured a layered runner of its own, which added depth the the vertical fold.

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Deconstructed Wrap

wedding reception napkin folds pink napkin draped on one half of plate
Erich McVey

While the idea of a napkin fold suggests crisp lines, don't limit yourself to classic folds. We love how Ginny Au created a loose, organic wraparound feel with this Frou Frou Chic napkin by leaving the edges exposed. The end result served as a pillowy base for Tara Spencer place cards.

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Double Layers

elizabeth sohale wedding dominican republic place setting
KT Merry

Two napkins were layered together and elegantly draped over the place setting to create a perfectly effortless look.

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Modern Drape

wedding reception napkin folds pink napkin draped beneath plate
Christine Lim Photography

When sandwiched between two crisp white plates, an effortlessly draped peach Silk and Willow napkin added softness to this contemporary tablescape. The look was designed by Blush & Bowties with Hunt & Gather florals.

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Triangular Fold

wedding reception napkin folds triangular fold beneath marbled plate
Rebecca Yale Photography

A large triangular fold brought geometric flair to this otherwise smooth and rounded vignette.

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Tie the Knot

amanda chase wedding place setting centerpieces and table runner
Anna Delores Photography

In stark contrast to the loose, unfolded look is the tightly knotted napkin. The effortlessly chic feel of a napkin knot continues to be a popular style with modern couples.

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Beautiful Black

jamie jon wedding monochromatic place setting
Rachel Havel Photography

This sleek black knot is proof that a tied napkin is perfectly at home at the black-tie wedding.

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Curved Knot

kiersten ruairi wedding place setting
Anna Delores Photography

A slight curve added interest to this knotted napkin and highlighted the placesetting's ornate gold Borrowed Blu charger. The curved napkin also subtly framed the Prim and Pixie menu card.

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Bohemian Inspiration

Cluster Centerpieces in Clear Vases on Boho Table
Kelsea Holder

This napkin fold featured a little bit of everything. The frayed linen was knotted before being placed at an angle under the salad plate. Although the napkin had a lot going on, selecting a crisp white linen ensured the look didn't take away from the table's Noonan's Wine Country Designs centerpieces or the macramé placemats.

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Top Knot

wedding reception napkin folds pink napkin in a knot
The Grovers

A pink napkin, which subtly referenced that table's Catalina Neal florals, was top knotted for a put together-meets-undone look. The whole effect from Amorology and Hostess Haven exuded an effortless intentionality.

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wedding reception napkin folds gray napkin wrapped up above plate
Beth Kirby of Local Milk

Furoshiki is a traditional style of Japanese gift wrapping using linen napkins or handkerchiefs in lieu of wrapping paper. For this festive event, Beth Kirby styled the furoshiki-inspired place settings with taupe linen wrapped around favors to complement the Rebekka Seale hand-dyed indigo muslin napkins that were draped over the table's edge. Tara Hurst stationery and Handmade Studio plates tied the whole look together.

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Tied with a Bow

kelsey joc wedding santa barbara california placesetting
Jose Villa

If you want a special napkin display without sacrificing a timeless aesthetic, consider adding a subtle ribbon to an otherwise classic fold for an updated presentation. Here, Toast Santa Barbara used a simple velvet ribbon to elevate this classic diamond fold without taking away from the overall table design.

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Upside Down

vicky james mexico table placesetting
Jodi & Kurt Photography

Inspired by a fan, this napkin turned things upside down to create a completely unique look. Sometimes all it takes is reorienting a classic fold to create a contemporary effect.

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Down Under

Emma mike California wedding Corbin gurkin table setting
Corbin Gurkin

Napkins typically lay atop a place setting, but that is by no means a hard and fast rule. Placed under two layered Casa de Perrin plates, this square napkin fold anchored the Duet Weddings place setting design.

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At an Angle

Ashley Ludaescher Photography

A simple fold placed in a unique part of a place setting can make a world of difference in the final look. Here, the napkin was folded into a simple rectangle, but was arranged at an angle under slender rose gold flatware.

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Elegant Waterfall

california indian jewish wedding reception placesetting
Marissa Maharaj

A waterfall fold is as simple to execute as it is aesthetically elegant. Simply fold the napkin in thirds lengthwise before draping part of the linen over the edge of the table for a refined tablescape as seen here.

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Creative Waterfall

wedding reception napkin folds pointed waterfall fold beneath plate with flowers
Caroline Joy

Exposed folds created a light texture for this pointed waterfall Marquee Events napkin. While napkins are typically folded in a way that hides the folds, this look from Mayhar Design was a creative divergence from the norm.

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Monogrammed Waterfall

julia mitchell wedding place setting monogram
Landon Jacob Photography

A waterfall fold crossed with a pointed, diamond-inspired fold ensured the monogram on these linens were displayed front and center. As an extra special touch, the napkins were actually hand-embroidered by the groom's aunt to be keepsakes for the couple!

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Wedding Crest

charles andrew wedding blue green place setting
Abby Jiu Photography

This crest-inspired pentagonal fold was perfectly suited for a monogrammed napkin.

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Perfectly Pointed

wedding reception napkin folds geometric hexagon with leaves on top
Joel Serrato

A napkin folded into a geometric hexagon created a crisp finishing touch on these tables designed by Laurie Arons with Valley Flora florals.

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Without a Plate

kate austin wedding reception placesetting candles
Greer Gattuso

Even if you won't be pre-setting tables with chargers or plates, you can still create a striking place setting. A simple rectangular fold, accented by black ribbon, created a defined place setting on these banquet tables designed by Blue Gardenia Events.

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Vertical Pleats

brittany alex wedding place setting
Sarah Ingram

Two vertical opposing pleats framed a drink card that was wrapped around this taupe linen hemstitch napkin from BBJ Linen.

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Full of Love

wedding reception napkin folds pink napkin folded into heart shape
Caitlin Colcolough

Perfect for an engagement party or bridal shower, a heart-shaped napkin brought together this entire pink tablescape designed by Calder Clark. Gold flatware, peach roses from Blossoms Events, and heart chocolates rounded out the stunning vignette.

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Pentagonal Fold

wedding reception napkin folds pentagonal fold on monogramed napkin
Jodi and Kurt

This pentagonal fold is both classic and creative. Thanks to a subtle color palette, the diamond-inspired fold at this A. Dominick Events soirée didn't compete with the dusty pink charger's ornate rim.

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Angled Pocket

wedding reception napkin folds dusted rose napkin with angled pocket
Alleksana Photography

A contemporary take on a pocket fold, this Kate Cullen napkin's pocket was placed at an angle as an organic contrast to the boho-glam Entwined Productions tabletop.

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Timeless Rectangle

leila joel wedding place setting
Erich McVey

Although the options for napkin folds are nearly endless, there's a good reason that slim rectangular folds are a timeless classic. Take this charcoal napkin fold, for example. The clean lines and no-nonsense fold style make it a great addition to the table while allowing the garland centerpiece and other design elements to truly shine.

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Back to Basics

ashley samantha wedding cornwall ny tablescape
Corbin Gurkin

In the end, whether over the top and complex, or simple and clean, your napkin fold of choice can effortlessly accentuate the rest of your tabletop design. Here, simple The Ark napkins were folded to be just slightly bigger than the Amber Moon Design menu cards and effectively framed the stationery.

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