How to Style a Wedding Table by Anne Book

When it comes to planning a wedding, one of the most exciting parts is deciding what the event will look like. We realize not everyone can afford to host their big day along a waterfront or on a Napa vineyard or in a rustic restored barn (damn you, Sandra Bullock movies). But not landing your ideal venue or location doesn’t mean the wedding’s overall ambiance and look has to suffer. Whether you’re in a hotel ballroom or your own backyard, pulling together unique and eye-catching table settings can transform an otherwise empty or conventional space.

Fortunately, we asked three of your favorite event planners and stylists to put together wedding table inspiration and offer advice on how to go about planning your your big (whether that’s on your own or with a planner). We asked each of them to include the five main ingredients that comprise a wedding table:
1. the chairs
2. place settings
3. place cards
4. centerpiece
5. party favors for guests

First up is the work of Anne Book, one of Chicago (and formerly Washington D.C.’s) leading event planners; it’s an elegant-meets-rustic look with warm hues of coral and orange draped over a soft blue backdrop. The magnificent flowers by Hello Darling (the same group who brought you the stand-out flowers from our bridal fashion shoots!) include coral charm peonies, parrot tulips, sweet pea, trailing jasmine, delicate lily of the valley. And you can find the gold-rimmed glassware and dishes at Classic Remix in Chicago!

1. What advice do you have for brides-to-be looking to work with an event planner?
Know what you want in terms of services to find the best fit for you. Some brides are really creative and have great ideas, but they want help and ideas as to how to execute them. If you are really great with spreadsheets and numbers and super organized, maybe you want to focus on someone who is more heavy in the design and styling area. Brides bring their talents and interest to the table with their weddings. Working with a planner that understands their vision as well as what they really need help with is key to determine from the beginning.

I have a lot of clients that we don’t live in the same city. Communication and updates are essential. Make sure you know how they communicate with you and how often.

It is also important to speak with references and ask questions about response time, vendor relationships, timeliness, and keeping you on budget. These are more important than whether or not your planner has worked at your venue before.

Also be sure to inquire as to if they take commissions. If they do they should tell you up front. I do not take commissions, but I would say about 50% of the industry does. I believe that a client pays you for your expertise and relationships with vendors. That is your service, not making money off of someone else’s.

2. It’s no secret. So many weddings end up looking the same. What tips do you have for making your wedding stand out?
It’s all about personalization. Style the things that you are already paying for such as food, music, the wording on your stationary suite, the drinks on your bar.

I have a client hosting a Gatsby era Black and White Ball wedding this October. Our Save the Dates were simple black on white but have a gorgeous 20’s font and the wording is “We’re Having a Ball, We hope you will join us this Fall.” Clever wording, interesting fonts, custom palettes.

Look to fashion and interiors magazine covers for interesting combinations for color. I think that is one of the most exciting things right now is all of the new color combinations the fashion and interiors world has been creating.

Start your wedding planning Pinterest pages with inspiration fonts, food, color, and fashion sections, too—not just wedding ideas. Look through your other boards for key themes—do you repeat a lot of the same color? is your food style more homespun and natural like Donna Hay? or sleek and modern like Peter Callahan?

3. What are some of your favorite online sources?
My favorites depend on what I am looking for because each wedding is so different. I have found vintage Washington D.C. post cards, prohibition liquor bottles, and vintage lamps on e-Bay. My favorites overall for shoes, decor, dresses and ideas are hands down BHLDN and Etsy right now. I just got these great black and white chevron napkins custom made for a client on Etsy. It’s amazing how online sourcing has changes the entire platform.

4. Splurge on:
….a planner, great food, service and music and lighting. Lighting makes the room.

5. Save on:
….a simplified bar but offer fun options like muddled drinks, cute swizzle sticks and stirrers. Places you can skip are the third course, expensive wines, favors, and the champagne toast.

6. What’s your favorite detail/item in the look you created?
My favorite detail in the look are the vintage containers and glassware, and the use of soft pale blue with coral.

 Our favorite parts of the look Anne created are the bentwood chairs and the touches of gold in the place settings. What is yours?

Anne Book is an event planner based in Chicago, Illinois but works with clients nationwide. With more than 14 years of experience, Anne’s events and designs have appeared in media such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Grace Ormond Wedding Style, Oxygen Network, Chicago Social Brides, Washingtonian, Biz Bash, Engaged!, and Modern Bride Washington.