Setting a formal table for a special event is not something most people do every day. This can make it confusing to decide what needs to be considered in table linen options and what is considered the basics for a formal setting.
To help to plan for any event, it is important to know the colors and the theme or design for the event. Of course, it is also possible to use an ivory, cream or white set of table linens that can be a perfect match with any color or with any formal theme.
The only thing to remember is to avoid mixing white china with off-white types of table linen. This tends to give the table linens an old look. Keep white china with white or colored lines and off-white china with off-white or colored options.
There are two basic options for a formal table setting as it pertains to linens. You will need to have a tablecloth and napkins. The tablecloth typically will have a drape down to the floor for an elegant look.
The napkins can be color coordinated to match the tablecloth, or they can be a contrasting color. For example, a black tablecloth could be paired with white or red napkins for a splash of color that really stands out on the tables.
The napkins can be folded on the dinner plates or placed under the cutlery at the place setting. They can also be folded and placed in front of the place setting or use a napkin ring or sash buckle.
Table runners are an additional option in table linen for a special event. These are strips of fabric that are placed over the tablecloth and down the center of the table. They can be lace or a contrasting color to the tablecloth, or they can even be patterned.
For some events, separate table shirts can also be used. These are placed over the tablecloth to create the drape and are clipped to the table with clear table clips to keep them secured in place.