How to Choose Between Bare Wood or Linen-Covered Tables at Your Wedding

We break down the pros and cons of both options to help you make the right decision for your event.

kati erik wedding reception space
Photo: Jenny Quicksall

There are endless ways to style the tables at your wedding reception, but your décor should represent your overarching aesthetic, which might range between rustic and earthy to glamorous and sophisticated. There are a few key essentials, however, they you will need regardless of your style: Whether you're drawing your wedding day inspiration from the latest trends or bringing an Old-World vision to life, you're definitely going to need tables for your guests. You have several options in this department; one is the popular wood farm table, which is often styled without linens. But is there any clear advantage of using these tables, rather than classic options clad in tablecloths? Here, we work through the pros and cons of both of these options, so you can decide which one best suits your celebration.

Raw wood tables can define your wedding style...

If you're planning a rustic, natural wedding with organic elements or in an outdoor setting, wood tables are a salient styling choice. Minimal wedding styles can also benefit from these types of tables, which often offer a simple design, but introduce a touch of natural texture.

...but they aren't necessarily more cost-effective.

Unless your venue includes wooden farm tables in the rental price, they aren't necessarily more (or less) affordable than the traditional table-and-linen route. By the time you rent banquet tables and cover them with nice fabrics, you might be looking at a similar bottom line. If budget is a concern, it may be worth doing a price comparison based on what's available in your region.

Bare wood tables can be dressed up or down.

Like tables with linens, bare farm tables can easily work within any formality level. Planning a black-tie wedding? Dangle lush greenery overhead and fill your wooden tables with an abundance of food, wine, and candlelight. Opting for a casual backyard barbecue? Keep the tablescape simple with wildflowers in bud vases and liven up each setting with pretty linen napkins.

Linens offer more color, pattern, and texture options.

When you choose banquet tables with linens, you have an opportunity to bring in more color—ultimately, tablecloths establish a base shade, which serves as the foundation of your reception palette. These pieces are also very easy to source and come in a range of colors, textures, sizes, patterns, and styles, which allow you to make each and every station your own.

You'll likely still need to rent some linens.

Even if your wood tables are included with your venue rental, you might want to add table runners to soften the look. Usually, you'll have more size and shape options with a banquet table, which may be desirable for some couples. Many couples opt to do a mix of raw wood tables and tables with linens on them. You can mix the two styles in your dining area, or simply use wood tables for displays and linen clad tables for dining.

Bare wood tables come in limited sizes.

Depending on your local rental selections, you may not have as many options for shape and size if you opt for wood farm tables. So, if you're committed to this style, be sure to triple check all measurements to ensure you'll be able to fit each piece into your venue and that you'll have enough seating for your guests.

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