Will you be serving a sit-down meal at your wedding reception? Wondering how exactly to set an informal table for your relaxed outdoor luncheon, or a formal table for your multi-course black tie dinner? With the help of Josh Gruetzmacher, Celeste Green, Studio Mondine, and Frances Lane, we’ve got you covered!

 

Informal (Semi-Formal) Table Setting

An informal (semi-formal) setting includes: a dinner plate with a smaller salad plate placed over it, two forks on the left, a knife and spoon on the right, a wine glass and water glass above the knife and spoon (the majority of the population is right-handed, so glasses are placed on the right).

Tip #1:  To help you remember what utensils go where, picture the word “FORKS” and notice that F (for ‘forks’) is on the left while K and S (for ‘knife’ and ‘spoon’) are on the right.

Tip #2:  Always be sure to set your knife with the blade facing toward the plate.

 

 

Formal Table Setting

When setting a formal table, you have quite a few more pieces to work with! You can have up to three of each implement at the table, and as many as five different glasses (water, white wine, red wine, champagne, sherry). Instead of placing the dinner plate directly on the table, a service plate (also known as a charger) is the base of each setting. A bread plate is set on the upper left side of the place setting. Formal settings can also include individual salt and pepper shakers or cellars.

Tip #3:  With any table setting, the placement of utensils is determined by the menu, starting with the outer utensil for the first course, and working your way in toward the plate.

Tip #4:  The napkins can be placed on top of the plate, under the charger so that it hangs over the edge of the table, or under the forks if space is tight.

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Wendy and Ben live in Toronto, but when it came time to choose a wedding venue, they opted to tie the knot in Ben’s home country of Belgium. Despite planning from afar, the couple did want to take on some DIY projects, including their romantic and modern invitations. And if you love those, then you won’t want to miss the seating display poster – beautiful!

SEE THE GALLERY FOR MORE IMAGES FROM THIS BELGIAN WEDDING BY SPEAKING THROUGH SILENCE.

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Wendy and Ben designed the printed materials themselves, blending romantic florals with modern fonts and lines.

 

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“Ben and I live in Toronto, Canada and we wanted to have our wedding in Brussels, where Ben is from,” says Wendy. “His family and friends live there and we figured our closest friends who had to travel to be with us would enjoy what Belgium had to offer – delicious food, beer, and the best chocolate… what’s not to like!? Although planning a destination wedding was challenging – especially with the language barrier, no planner, and an 8 month timeline – we managed to make it work and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

 

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The Ceremony

Why did you choose this location for your ceremony?  We did not have the flexibility to choose the location because only civil marriage ceremonies are legally recognized in Belgium. After the civil ceremony, which must take place at a town hall, couples can choose to have a religious or secular ceremony as part of their celebration but it is not required. Luckily, towns halls in Brussels are beautiful (Grand Place for example). We chose the town hall in the municipality where Ben grew up, a charming 19th century building that looks like a classic European mansion.

 

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Your ceremony in three words.  Intimate, sweet and simple

How did you go about planning your ceremony?  Since we were not having a traditional wedding ceremony, we added a few traditional touches to our civil wedding. We chose to write our own vows and had a ring bearer who held a Canadian and Belgian flag as he passed us the rings. To liven up the ceremony, we included a musician who played the cello for the processional and piano for the recessional. A family friend played the accordion in front of the building as guests await our exit throwing rice and confetti.

 

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Who officiated your ceremony?  The mayor officiated. The ceremony was performed in French and we had an English interpreter. Later at the reception, we held a traditional Chinese tea ceremony to honor the union of our families.

What were your vows like?  We wrote our own vows. Ben wrote his vows in both French and English so our Canadian and Belgian guests could understand his touching words.

 

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What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony?  Walking in the room together and seeing the love and warmth of our family and friends then exiting as husband and wife while our guests joyfully threw confetti and rice at us.

 

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The Reception

“We wanted our wedding day to be romantic and intimate. We really wanted our family and guests to feel like they were going to a big dinner party! I found the venue while searching online during Ben’s visit with family in Brussels and I asked Ben to scope it out. It was a 14th century monastery, surrounded by large garden with old oak trees, a pond and courtyard. The building had several rooms including the historic arched hall where we held the cocktail hour and an orangerie: a glass room surrounded by the garden, similar to a greenhouse. To us, it was truly a unique venue and perfectly romantic. Ben fell in love with it and when he came back home, we decided to book the last available spot of the year. I didn’t actually see it in person until a few months before the wedding and it was more stunning than I imagined!”

 

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How would you describe your reception?  A fairytale dinner party with delicious food, drinks and lots of dancing

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  We wanted something romantic yet modern. I was inspired by vintage florals such as Dutch masters’ floral paintings and botanical illustrations by Belgian painter, Pierre-Joseph Redouté. We used his illustrations in our invitations and table numbers and offset the vintage look with modern geometric shapes and fonts. From there, we stuck to a color palette of soft muted colors with a touch of plum.

 

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Wendy carried a bouquet of roses, ranunculus, and greenery, while her bridesmaids each carried a single stem of antique red hydrangea.

 

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Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  Our wedding was a mish-mash of traditions combining North American, Belgian and Chinese cultures. Before the reception started, we had Chinese wedding tea ceremony to honor and welcome our families together. My bridesmaids served the tea which symbolized luck to our new marriage.

 

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Menu:
First course: Norwegian salmon in a light broth flavored with Thai spices, lemon grass and coconut milk // Second course: Caramelized duck breast, speculoos biscuit covered with apple-pear chutney, ginger decoction, scalloped potatoes and vegetable ratatouille // Third course: Duo of speculoos mousse and white chocolate mousse with crispy grilled hazelnuts

Did you have a signature cocktail?  We served beer – it’s Belgium!

 

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Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about?  Ben and I are both in creative fields, and tried to do as much DIY as we could while planning from afar. We focused on smaller projects that we could take in our luggage and graphic design elements: invitations, envelope sleeves and labels, table numbers, name cards, seating chart, poster, banners. Ben’s dad made the wood table number holders days before the wedding, and I made kissing wands with ribbons and bells from the craft store.

 

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What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Take it all in – take your time and enjoy each moment.

What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding?  Don’t go crazy trying to include every idea. With Pinterest, wedding shows and blogs, there are endless ideas you will want to include but it will just take more time, money and distract from the overall vision. Ben and I discussed all our ideas together, which kept me in check of not going overboard and it also made sure that the ideas were what we both wanted.

 

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What type of cake or dessert did you serve?  Ben’s good friend – a pastry chef – made 3 different cakes (speculoos, raspberry and cheesecake) and over 100 macarons. In addition, a family friend made her famous French canelé desserts which were divine and looked beautiful on the cake table.

What was your first dance song?  Our first dance was “Big Jet Plane” by Angus & Julia Stone. We knew that was our song when we watched the movie, Romantics Anonymous, during our first year of dating.

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I wouldn’t want to change a thing. It was definitely the most memorable day of our lives; we were elated with our union, how our wedding day turned out and how happy our guests were!

 

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Photography: Speaking Through Silence / Venue: L’Abbaye de Nizelles in Brussels, Belgium / Floral Design: Helianthus Brussels / Stationery, Graphic Design, Printed Materials: Benjamin Gehlen / Dress: Jacinda by Watters via Felichia Bridal / Shoes: Manolo Blahnik / Earrings: J. Crew / Suit: Strellson / Tie: J. Lindberg / Shirt: Eton via Harry Rosen / Cake, Pastries: Julian Courtoy

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Just a handful of links this week! Enjoy and have a happy weekend!

Buttered Radishes Buttered Radishes

Radishes never looked so lovely!

These wood block photo prints would make a great gift.

What would your name be if you were born today?

Breakfast cereal fudge – if nothing else it’s colorful!

Learning to love honeybees.

This red poppy dress!

The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning… fascinating.

Only a few spots left in this Sonoma floral workshop!

Have a happy weekend!

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