Elements of the Reception Table Setting

When it comes to your wedding we know you want everything to be absolutely perfect, from your wedding dress right down to the reception. Whether you hire a wedding planner or designer to help you with your table decor needs, it doesn’t hurt to know a couple of things yourself.

Depending on the type of reception you have you’ll need flatware (plates, spoons, forks and knives), glassware, and table linens. Here are a few terms you will hear your wedding planner or designer say when referring to setting your reception tables.


Types of China

Earthenware is made of clay fired at low temperatures, making it fairly fragile and quite heavy. Majolica, faience, delftware and slipware are all varieties of earthenware.

Stoneware is made from fortified clay that is fired at high temperatures, rendering it very hard and sturdy. It is opaque, vitrified (fused like glass), and nonporous, and it’s generally oven and dishwasher safe.

Porcelain is composed of kaolin, or china clay, and petuntse, or china stone, making it fine-grained and strong. It is fired at very high temperatures and is vitrified and nonporous.

Bone china is porcelain to which bone ash has been added, giving it greater whiteness and translucency. Fired at high temperatures, bone china is thin, lightweight and durable.

types of porcelain

Types of Flatware

Sterling silver pieces are made from silver with the addition of 7.5 percent of another metal, usually copper, for durability. “Sterling” should be stamped on the piece.

Silver plate has a metal-alloy base (usually nickel silver, a mix of nickel, copper and zinc; sometimes brass) and is coated with a thin layer of 100 percent silver by the process of electroplating. (The term EPNS means electroplate on nickel silver, identifies the base metal.)

Gold plate is made by the same electroplating process, but the base metal (usually sterling silver, a metal alloy, or stainless steel) is coated with a thin layer of 10-karat gold.

Stainless steel is an alloy of steel, chromium and nickel. The highest quality is 18/8; it has a steel base with 18 percent chrome for corrosion resistance and 8 percent nickel for luster.


Types of Table Linens

Tablecloths are mostly of linen or cotton (jacquard and damask refer to the weave or finish) and hang down no more than 8 inches on all sides of the table.

Under-cloths, toppers and runners vary widely in size, shape and material. Before you register, measure your dining table (include height from floor); take the numbers with you.

Napkins range in size from 6 inches square (cocktail napkins) to 20 inches square (luncheon) to 24 inches square (dinner).

Place mats range from13-by-19 inches to 15 or 16 inches round. Choose a fabric that feels pleasant to the touch.


Types of Glassware

Glass is made from the melting together of sand, ashes, and ground limestone. Though usually translucent and colorless, glass can be tinted in its molten state with metallic oxides or pigments. Traditionally, glass was handblown by craftsmen; today it is more often pressed into molds.

Tempered glass has been treated to resist thermal or physical shock.

Crystal is simply glass with the addition of a small amount of red lead oxide, which lends brilliance and clarity.

Full-lead crystal (also known as lead crystal) is made with 24 percent red lead oxide. Full-lead crystal is often handblown, hand cut, and etched or engraved.



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