Setting the table<br><a href= target=_blank>Alina McGinty</a>

The idea of a pre-wedding dry run is nothing new. The whole point of the rehearsal dinner is to practice the ceremony. Brides typically have a hair and makeup trial to be sure their look is just right. Hopefully, the couple’s relationship has served as a test run of sorts for happily ever after.

But I’d never heard of mocking up the table décor until my sister/matron of honor suggested it. As a wedding photographer, she’s seen real weddings and magazine photo shoots where all of the décor elements made sense in theory – but not necessarily in reality. Sometimes a color or texture was off, or one decoration crowded out the rest, but one of the most common oversights she sees? Not enough elements.

Everyone loves a darling little bud vase, but you can’t fill out a table for eight with one.

Nick and I got my sister, my mother and a friend together to give our tablescape (thank you Sandra Lee for making that a word) a dry run. Since we don’t own a round table like the ones we’ll use at the reception, we cut a 60-inch round out of cardboard, placed it on our dining room table, and topped it with an inexpensive white tablecloth. Not as classy as (we hope) the real deal will be, but it worked in a pinch.

We set up the table with our original plan for the décor: a round slice of oak from an old tree, glass flower jars that we bought at a garage sale and DIYed with mercury glass spray paint, faux candles (no open flames allowed at our venue), crosswords we created and printed on card stock, two water carafes, a table number, and café lights and paper poms we purchased on Etsy hanging from above. Sounds like plenty, right?

We stepped back to admire our work, and it looked…spare. Everything was pretty in its own right, but it just wasn’t enough to scape that (fake) table.

Since we’re having a buffet dinner, we won’t have plates set up on the tables, which makes the décor even more important. After some mulling and several “What if we’s” and “You know what we could do’s,” we decided to add some small succulents to the tables, plus some glass and ceramic bud vases. The extras added only about $30 to our décor tab, and I’m sure it will be money well spent.

I’m not usually one for adding yet another to-do to the ever-growing list, but I’m so glad we tested out the look for the tables. If we hadn’t, and I’d shown up on my wedding day to skimpily decorated tables, it really would have been fine. I may not have even noticed. But I feel more at ease knowing exactly how one piece of the picture will look when Nick and I walk into the reception as husband and wife.

Read the previous posts in Jackie’s wedding planning series:

The proposal

Will you be my maid?

Dress shopping

Engagement portraits

Torn between virtual planning tools

The food

Planning snags

Getting dressed



The two month countdown

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