January 26, 2021
My area of Geekery: Part 1 – Long Table Dinners
Today, I will be rambling a bit about the part of my business that I really geek out about and that's on wedding design and decorating, specifically long table designs! I've had so many clients and friends ask me specifically about long table dinners so I thought this would be an insightful topic to start the series with so here goes!
I love long table dinners. I love the way they look and the intimate feel and instant air of celebration and magic they bring to any meal. The first emergence of the long table dinner was probably around 5th to late 15th century but I would say it was closer to 18th Century Europe when we started to see the real comings of a real long table celebration.
If the medieval meal you envision looks a little bit like a modern wedding, you’re not too far off. The tables used would have been produced from longboards set on top of wooden supports. Having tables which could be set up and take-down relatively quickly meant that the hall in which people ate could be used for other purposes throughout the day. The most important VIPs would have been seated at one end of the hall on a raised platform called “the high table” or in this case, the “head table”. The King would have seated himself at the middle of the high table, and the rest of his guests would have been seated in order of importance – just like what we see at weddings today. While we do need to keep in mind that this is an image of people eating in a castle, it is an image worth taking a look at, since many of these formal eating traditions have made their way into the many different styles of dining that we have today.
To the right here is a famous painting called "The Wedding at Canaan" 16th century, after Jacopo Tintoretto which currently resides at the Museo Civico Correr in Venice. There is a whole lot of history, faith, and religious meaning to this painting that I won't be getting into, but I'd like to direct your attention the formation of the tables and the way people are seated and adorned. At the very head of the table is the glowing man himself and the further we are away from him, the more casual and less formally dressed the guests are. There is so much going on in this room and so much detail in the architecture of the walls and ceilings that little attention is paid to what's actually on the table.
During these medieval times, flowers and decor were the least of anyone’s concern. Kings filled the tables with an endless amount of food and drink, not vases or candelabras that would almost certainly get knocked down once the heavy drinking commenced. Tall candlesticks and fancy linens made their debut later but very little creativity or thought was put into the details. Today, modern weddings have evolved significantly and evident in all weddings big or small. No couple would throw a wedding without any kind of decor in the space. Whether it be a linen to cover up a rusty table, candles to give an ambient glow, or a bud vase with a single stem, at the very minimum will see something on the table otherwise it just won't feel like we're at a wedding right?
The most common and practical way of dressing a long table is running the centre down with some sort of lush greenery, the most popular being eucalyptus and silver dollar garlands and if budget allows, flowers such as roses, peonies or dahlias. This rustic design is simple enough to have family style dinners since platters can sit right on top of the greenery, but the plumpness of the leaves will be smooshed underneath. If you’re hoping for elaborate centrepieces or to display a collection of different items, family style may not be the right choice for you. This is especially true if you plan to serve several courses of different appetizers, entrees and sides, as the more menu items you have, the more space will be needed on each table. You will also need to keep in mind the long platters, wide bowls, and large serving utensils that will live on your tables throughout the entire dinner service and will likely be photographed which is more time and money spent picking out specific items that will fit your overall theme and design. If you’re vision is more extravagant, this set-up works much better with buffet or plated dinners since there isn’t the continuous passing of plates and serving utensils coming and going down the centre of the tables.
Below are a few examples of the different designs and styles we see today. Which one is your favourite?
Leslie was organized, efficient, worked with what we wanted, easy to communicate with, and so lovely to work with. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to plan our wedding! She is super knowledgeable about all of the best deals and vendors in the area and was able to create our dream vision with our budget. She took a lot of things off our plate with handling the vendors and everything on the special day making it stress free. On top of taking on all of these responsibilities, she was always so quick to respond. Leslie is the best and we will miss working with her!
Mina and DmitryALL TESTIMONIALS >
Leslie helped to ensure our wedding day was amazing. She is attentive, responsive, flexible, and always smiling. Working with her was a pleasure and we'd highly recommend working with her. My husband and I were able to just enjoy the day while she took care of all the details on the day of, guiding us with a smile and always showing her caring attitude. As the day passed by me as a blur, I remember Leslie always busy working to make sure the details were perfect. Very grateful to have found her and for the work and love she put into our wedding. Thanks Leslie!
JaneALL TESTIMONIALS >