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A Beginner's Survival Guide to Basic Linens

This week's blog post comes from a fresh face entering into the event industry with no experience whatsoever--well, unless you count high school ASB as experience (it's not). When I walked into American Party Place on Day 1, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it would involve renting out tablecloths and plates, so how hard could it be, right?

The answer? There's a lot more to it than that.

It sounds simple when a client asks for ten tablecloths for their event in two weeks. Piece of cake. But when you take into account all of the questions this request necessitates (color? fabric? table size? length--to the ground or halfway? damage waiver in case it rips? delivery?)--well, let's just say that it doesn't seem so simple anymore. In my short time here, I've discovered that the event planning industry has its own unique language--a myriad of terms that, without experience, sound trifling at best. On your big day, however, these trifling terms may come back to haunt you. With that in mind, I've put together a few tips about linens (a core piece of most event rentals) that I've learned that might just help those event-planning virgins among us to put together our events without too much of a hitch.

Lloyd Photographers - Kelley Farm

Number one: fabric matters. Not only does it affect the cost of your linen order (rule of thumb, polyester is least expensive), but it can also affect the overall look of your tables on your big day. While polyester is a classic, dependable fabric, some events require something a little bit sleeker--satin, perhaps. And when you're looking for a subtle yet textured look, a nova fabric may go a long way. Wanting to make a statement with one or two tables? A pintuck, crush, rosette, or even sequin linen may fit the bill. If you like these fabrics but don't want to overwhelm your guests, consider a table runner atop a simpler linen.

RcMedia Photography - The Edgewater House

Number two: size matters. When it comes time to order your linens, it's essential to know how big your tables are. Just last week, a friend of mine was sorely disappointed when the tablecloths that arrived at her event were far too big. Beyond knowing the size of your table (to avoid round linens on your banquet tables), it is also important to know how long you want your linens. For most formal settings, you'll want the linens to reach the ground (the standard recommendation that an event rental expert will give you when asked). For less formal settings, tablecloth lengths may range from a couple of inches from the ground, to a couple of inches off the table. It's up to you to decide what atmosphere you want to create for your event.

Number three: moderation matters. While it can be easy to see a wide selection of linens and want to pick a few of your favorite colors, it's important to make sure your event looks balanced. To achieve a balanced look, pick two or three primary colors, with at least one of those colors being a softer, more neutral color. This will help keep your event from looking too bright or dramatic. Another tip? If you love bright colors, consider using them as accents in the table runners or chair ties instead of as the linens for all guest tables. You can still incorporate your favorite colors without letting them steal the spotlight from you on your big day! For those of us who have never planned a major event, these are a few tips that I've found helpful to avoid some of the most common event mistakes. And who knows? Maybe those of us new to event planning can fake it enough to make it look like we belong.

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