How to Drape a Head Reception Table

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The head reception table is the frame for the bridal party, but the standard reception hall white tablecloth doesn’t say, “Look at me.” Instead of adding dramatic centerpieces that only hide you from your guests, drape the table in colorful fabric to make the table stand out. Tulle is the most forgiving of draping fabrics and comes in a variety of colors. However, any fabric will work. Remember to choose a pop of color to match your reception decorations, but avoid matching the color of your bridesmaid’s gowns or they will become lost among the decorations.

Adding a Swag

Measure the length of the head reception table and the height of the table. Multiply the height by 2 and add the height and length together. For example, if the table is 25 feet long and 3.5 feet high, the total measurement would be (3.5 x 2) + 25, or 32 feet.

Decide how many swags you would like across the front of the table and add 15 percent of the total from the previous step for each swag. Even numbers will be easier to hang. For example, 15 percent of 32 is 4.8 feet. For four swags, the total length of fabric needed would be 32 + (4 x 4.8), or 51.2. Round up the measurement to the nearest foot.

Fold the fabric accordion style and bind it with yarn every 4 or 5 feet to secure the folds while you work.

Cover the table with a floor-length tablecloth.

Divide the table according to the number of flags you have chosen to use, and lay a pencil or other marker at the edge of the table where each swag will connect. Mark from the center of the table outward to each corner.

Locate the center of the fabric and tie the fabric tightly together with clear fishing wire.

Staple the fabric at the fishing wire to the edge of the table.

Drape the fabric in a swag from the center to the left, tie the next connecting point with fishing line and staple it to the table. Repeat until you have finished the left side of the table. The remainder of the fabric will fall to the floor once you reach the outer corner.

Repeat for the right side of the table. Try to keep the swags as similar in size as possible.

Untie the yarn from Step 3 and allow the fabric to fall. Fluff or pleat the folds to create your desired look.

Attach bows or flowers where you stapled the fabric to the table to finish the look.

Simple and Sophisticated

Measure the length of the head reception table and the width.

Find a square tablecloth whose width on the diagonal is twice the width of the reception table. Choose two complementary colors or a solid and a pattern.

Divide the diagonal width of the square tablecloth into the length of the reception table. For example, if the table is 25 feet long and the tablecloth is 6 feet diagonally, it would take four tablecloths to cover the table. Purchase two extra tablecloths.

Drape the reception table in a floor-length tablecloth in white, cream, silver or pale gold.

Lay the first square tablecloth in the center of the table with the corners draping over either side and pointing down the table.

Align the second and third tablecloths to the right and left of the first, overlapping the corners.

Continue adding tablecloths until you have covered the entire table. The final appearance will be a series of triangular points fringed along the front of the table.

Adjust the tablecloths as necessary to create an evenly spaced appearance.