Wedding Magazine

The Trouble With Table Linen

By Theutterblog @utterlywow

I suspect I’ve put a lot of people off reading today’s post with that title.

Suffice to say it’s not the most exhilarating aspect of wedding planning, the table linen. But lordy knows, it is one of the only aspects of planning so far to have completely and utterly driven me round the bend. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll likely be sick to death of hearing me go on about it (if that’s not an advertisement to click that ‘follow’ button, I don’t know what is), but if you’ll allow me- just this once- to write more than 140 characters on the subject, I promise not to mention it again. Ever.

The trouble with table linen is that there’s just no choice. Not here in the UK anyway. The choice we have is limited to your standard white or ivory, with your twenty or so ‘block’ colours and the odd gingham, tartan or leapord-print (?!) thrown in for good measure. All bound in a polyester/cotton hybrid which contains no actual ‘linen’ whatsoever. As such the ‘linen’ of choice for most brides-to-be is usually white because, well, there is no choice, and the UK companies don’t create more lines because there is no demand. It’s a vicious circle, innit?

The other trouble with table linen is that then go on Pinterest or your favorite American wedding blog, and you see the most beautifully decorated wedding tables you’ve ever seen, with unusual charger plates and gold cutlery and mismatched chairs, all aboard swathes of textured linen in beautiful grey, or gold sequins, or the perfect shade of soft peach.  Spoilt for choice those darn Americans. And they continue to rub it in our faces by taking beautiful pictures of their beautiful tables and plastering them all over the internet, whilst I’m resigned to sobbing in a corner clutching yet another lurid, fluorescent peach fabric swatch that has been sent to me. Harumph.

And then, of course, there’s the leap of faith you’re expected to take by choosing a color from a CGI’d image on the computer screen, which then looks nothing like the tiny square of fabric that is sent to you in the post. And then trying to work out how that tiny square of fabric would actually  look when it was a much larger square (or circle) of fabric and was draped over a 6ft table.

My name is Sama, and thanks to nasty table linen, I have become a fully-fledged, bonafide, linen-obsessed moron.

White is not right (for me)

Done well, white table linen can look AWESOME. Elegant, crisp, modern, fresh and classy are just some of the ways to describe a white clothed table.


Image by Carrie Patterson via Pinterest


Image via Style Me Pretty

Image via Snippet & Ink

Image via Snippet & Ink

I don’t have a problem with white table linen… when it is chosen for a reason.  White is the perfect backdrop to a neutral color scheme, or even pops of colour, and teamed with a hessian or vintage floral runner it can look trés chic. But for me, in the surroundings of an imposing, rustic, wood-built barn (like the image below), white table cloths can look a little… stark.  Simple, modern and elegant, yes. But stark. And a little cold.

Image by Ashley Dru via 100 Layer Cake

Image by Ashley Dru via 100 Layer Cake

The whole point of my wedding (er, other than the getting married bit) is that I want it to be warm and full of life; a veritable feast of colourful blooms, mis-matched table runners, festoon lighting, paper lanterns, streamers galore and quirky bits and bobs. White just ain’t gonna cut the mustard.  I need something that’s going to blend in to the surroundings; be the perfect, subtle backdrop; let the decor do the talking.

My Peachy Dream

Image via Martha Stewart Weddings

Image via Martha Stewart Weddings

Image via Green Wedding Shoes

Image via Green Wedding Shoes

Not only is peach the perfect, summery compliment to the coral and gold accents I plan to incorporate, but it looks warm and inviting in the evening too, like the candle-lit setting above shows.

Sadly, the peach swatches I’ve been sent so far have been a bit more like this:



Blend beautifully with these very blog pages, don’t they??

But whilst I am a big fan of peach (obviously), and I know they wouldn’t look quite so lurid when dressed (see candle-lit image above), I think I’m after something even more subtle still.  Something a bit more… natural.

Linen, the way nature intended it…

Natural linens are the epitome of rustic elegance I think.  Neutral and classy, they provide both subtle warmth and texture, which, in my humble opinion, makes a table so much more interesting to look at.

Image via Elements of Style

Image via Elements of Style

And just look at how these tones of sand/taupe/grey/mushroom let the spicier colours shine!


Image via 100 Layer Cake

Image via Pinterest


Image via Style Me Pretty

It took me- quite literally- an entire day of trawling through Pinterest, Google Images and linen hire websites, but I think I’ve finally identified that natural linen is going to be the best compliment to the colourful blooms, glittery jars and mis-matched table runners my Deputy Wedding Planner (my Mum) and I have been working on for the last however many months.  I’ve already received a nice swatch selection from one company, and have a few more to receive still before making the final decision and TICKING THE DAMN THING OFF THE LIST.

The bad news for natural linen lovers is that it is more expensive than it’s white/coloured/poly-cotton competitors. But if you have a reasonable portion of your budget assigned to décor and styling, or if you do  manage to make savings elsewhere (erm, like the £15 shoes I just bought! More on those next week…), then I implore you to think outside the white box and explore the many other table linen avenues. The more demand there is, the more competitive rates will become.

For those wondering which UK companies I’ve found, they are as follows:

Northfields- London based, wide range including four natural linens. Prices seem reasonable (though more expensive than non-natural).

88 Events Company- Their depot is in Glasgow but they deliver nationwide. Huge selection but their natural linens are extortionate.

Options Hire- London based again. I’m awaiting delivery of their gray flax and thatch linen swatches. A really nice touch is that they provide images of fully-laid, themed tables which then detail exactly what products they’ve used. Much more useful than a color close-up!

Just 4 Linen- Deliver throughout the south-east. No ‘natural linens’ as such but some of their Indian Cotton range has potential.

I think I need a lie-down after that. Well done if you’ve stayed with me for the whole post- I know ‘linen’ isn’t exactly the most thrilling of blog rides, but I hope it provided some interest for those considering doing something different.

Anyone else in to the natural look? Or going bold or bright? Know of any UK company recommendations that I’ve missed out??

Have wonderful weekends one and all, and I’ll see you next week! One word: Miu-Who..?

Sama xxx

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