Does it need to be different? Should you tell your florist?

By Alyssa Brown
April 22, 2020

Family-style dinner service is a popular wedding choice, as it feels interactive, casual, and comfortable for guests. It's also worth noting that this style of service typically means you'll have to make space for platters and serveware to be easily accessible on your dining tables. So, how do you make the tabletop décor work with this plan? Here, Alia Wilson, wedding planner and co-owner of Firefly Events, offers her best tips.

Remember that less is more!

Wilson says, "Avoid large and low sprawling arrangements or garlands that will lay across the center of the table." These types of arrangements make it hard for your guests to find space to place the platters of food once they've made their way around the table.

Choose cluster arrangements.

Wilson says, "Go with smaller clusters of floral arrangements. This approach works particularly well because the arrangements can be easily shifted to accommodate and complement the larger platters of food." In the same manner, you'll probably want to avoid taper candles or anything that can easily be knocked over when guests are reaching for platters.

Select wide tables.

Rectangular dining tables typically range in width from 30 inches to 48 inches, and some are even wider. If your venue allows enough space to go with large tables, this will allow you to have enough room for all the glassware, flatware, plates, and shared platters in addition to the floral arrangements, candles, and additional décor.

Use a linen table runner.

Wilson says, "This will unify the center of the table and keep all the elements feeling purposeful instead of chaotic." Your flowers, candles, and food platters will feel like they have a designated resting place with the runner.

Make smart serveware choices.

"Be sure to pick out larger share plates, and serveware that complements or coordinates with your place settings so the table feels more cohesive and polished," Wilson advises. Depending on your menu, you might be able to provide one charger or plate per guest to minimize the table's clutter.

Don't bring in too many glasses.

Glassware can take up a lot of space on the table if you're providing a white wine glass, red wine glass, water glass, and Champagne flute. Instead, opt for an all-purpose wine glass and a water glass if you're trying to make space on the table.

Ask your caterer about their service style.

Generally speaking, family-style service at a wedding means your guests will be given plates to pass around the table and serve themselves their portions, in which case it's good to have extra space on the table for the platters. However, a lot of caterers will have their staff help this process along by collecting platters once they've been passed around or assisting guests with distribution. Find out how your caterer executes a family-style meal so you can know exactly how much space you'll need to keep clear on the dining table.


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