How to Create a Stunning Tablescape: Lessons from Party Planning Classes!

One of the most fun and challenging aspects of event decorating is tablescaping! The tablescape sets the tone for any dinner event—whether it be a birthday, wedding, or conference.

A tablescape is a portmanteau of “table” and “landscape”. You probably know what landscaping is all about—creating a perfectly manicured and attractive outdoor space. Now, imagine that but on a smaller scale to decorate tabletops for an event. Most people think that just having fancy dishes and a centerpiece is enough—spoiler alert, it’s not! Tablescaping is a more involved process then arranging cutlery or placing a single vase at the center of the table! Besides functional elements, tablescaping incorporates creative design to bring a mood or theme to life!

With professional event decor courses, you’ll learn all about decorating an event from top to bottom. We’re going to be honest, though—you’ll need to seriously train your eye and artistic capacity as a creative professional. Thankfully, party planning courses provide you with ample opportunity for hands-on practice.

Keep reading to for a sneak peek into QC’s party planning classes, and learn how to master the tablescape!

Step 1: Choose your color palette

blue and gold color palette - how to become a party planner

Color is a huge factor when it comes to event decor! Before you even look at a tabletop, sit down with your client to discuss the decorating styles and color schemes they wish to have for their event. This starts with outlining your client’s event goals. The theme should complement the ultimate goal of the event. If they clash, your clients may not get the result they were hoping for. Once you know their vision, it’s your job to use your expert training to come up with the perfect palette!

Taking cues from the world of beauty, neon color palettes are trending! This summer trend really only make sense with this season. Think about it—fall colors are universally earthy. Your party planning school will teach you the foundational skills to mix and match different shapes, textures, and decor proportions. From there, you’ll select a color scheme to play on these different elements.

Step 2: Sourcing the event decor

tablescaping with modern centerpieces for party planning

Planners often debate if they should rent or buy these event decor items, and there are many pros and cons for each option.

When purchasing your own event decor, there are two major considerations you should keep in mind.

  1. Storage space and conditions. You need to have somewhere to keep these items! Without proper storage procedures and climate control, you may ruin your items before you’ve had a chance to break even on the initial investment.
  2. Similarly, consider whether your decor items can be used over and over again. If you’re planning your first themed wedding and have no idea if you wish to pursue events with a similar theme in the future, don’t invest in decor to keep! Some planners will guide their party planning businesses to a niche or specialization. QC Event School graduate Kaloni Jenson, for example, specializes in fantasy weddings! But if you see yourself only planning a mermaid pool party once, it’s best to hold off on buying dozens of giant clam-shell chairs.

Step 3: Laying down the foundation

tablescape event and party planning professional decorating a table for dinner

Start with your large items first. Obviously, the first thing to decide on is your tablecloth or runner. If you’re planning a luxury event, we recommend a weighty, neutral-colored linen. This is a classic choice that’ll allow you to set more colorful decor on top without clashing.

Then, add on functional tablewares such as charger plates, dish/glassware, and cutlery. Before you go into minor decorating pieces, you’ll want to lay out your centerpiece. After you’ve set it in place, you can adjust your embellishments as necessary. Otherwise, you may arrive at the perfect balance of decorative tree branches and acorns, and find little room left for the candlestick centerpieces!

The most common centerpiece is a flower arrangement. But seashells, lanterns, and edible items like lollipops, fruit, and vegetables may also be used. For a beach-side tropical summer party, pineapples and banana leaves are a popular combination. If you’re planning a summery picnic party, consider sunflowers to introduce some bright, bold color.

You can also DIY certain tablescape pieces to get elegant decor at a much lower price point!

Step 4: Obsess over the details

small detail in tablescaping - learn how to be a party planner who can decorate events

Once you’ve had your large items set up, it’s time to add in details. This is where you take your table setting from “nice” to “wow!” Fill in gaps with smaller items like tea lights, single flower vases, and any other embellishments that you like. You can also include additional lighting sources. Nothing is more romantic than fairy lights and lanterns hung from above and also winding down the tablerunner. Overall, it’ll add in a cozy glow and improve the atmosphere of your event design.

This is also the time to bring your color palette together! By adding your accent colors to these smaller details, you create a more cohesive look. Napkins, glassware, and votives are great tools for bringing out colors in a patterned tablecloth or multicolored floral arrangement. Play with texture and pattern to add visual interest. Just make sure you know when to stop—guests need space to eat!

Remember to consider the event’s catering logistics. Speak with the caterers about the menu. Are there multiple courses? Will guests be having a plated dinner (dinner plates won’t be on the table to start with if this is the case)? Will you need dessert forks, salad forks, or soup spoons? Should you add citronella candles to control those pesky mosquitoes? Make sure your table has all the elements your client needs so that it’s both functional and beautiful!

Step 5: Adjust your angles

round dining table decorated by a professional party planner

Make sure that you step back and examine at your table from every angle! You might have holes or a serious imbalance if you don’t evaluate your design from different areas. You can have an asymmetrical design, just make sure that this was done intentionally and not by accident!

Step 6: Keep practicing your party decorating skills

Your first tablescape isn’t going to be your best one. Neither is your second or third or fourth probably. Remember, practice makes perfect! Taking a party planner class is a great way to get that practice in and better yet, you’ll actually get feedback telling you how to improve! It’s the fastest and easiest way to go from event decor novice to industry expert, and you’ll have a certificate to prove it. So start practicing! Go set up your dining room for a pretend wedding. Start with your color scheme and build your layers of details. Also, make sure that you take pictures so that you can compare your work as you go.

Ready to sign up for a party planner class? Take a look at QC’s event planning courses

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