The Art and Etiquette of Setting a Beautiful Table
... Not to Mention Throwing a Fabulous Bridal Shower!
|A beautiful welcome to a bridal shower for my nephew's fiancée, Casey!|
A friend, Elle Richesse, recently gifted me with a subscription to Tea Time magazine. Not being a big tea lover (as many of my readers know) I was still looking forward to the magazine, as I knew it would be filled with beautiful pictures, stories and features on various tea rooms. I'm always up for a good cucumber sandwich, and tea rooms are generally charming places to visit.
|Taking photos from an old Architectural Digest and tweeting from my doctor's exam room. Surprisingly, he was interested in my thoughts on place setting etiquette. Then again, his daughters were in my etiquette classes years ago.|
|Tea really isn't "my cup of tea," but the articles in this magazine really are terrific. Thank you again, Elle!|
I am known for zeroing in on table settings the moment I see a table set. It comes from years of judging tables, setting tables, and an enthusiasm for a certain symmetry. It's sort of like my bizarre counting the rings of ringing telephones on tv and in movies, but that is for another post. It's not something I want to do mind you, it just happens. Its the same thing with table settings and me. It doesn't matter if I'm flipping through a magazine or walking through a restaurant. I see a place setting and immediately start looking to see if it is correct or incorrect. So flipping through Tea Time and to the Downton Abbey Tea... Oh dear...
|Almost Downton Abbey style, but those forks would never be placed on the napkins!|
|Napkin in the center of the place setting|
A napkin belongs in the center of the place setting, if you really want your guests to use them nowadays. Napkins placed to the left of the forks are okay in my book, but again, I want my guests to put their napkins in their laps. Placing them on the table or service plate, in the center of the setting, means that your guest has to remove the napkin to have food placed in front of him or her. I have seen napkins set to the left of the forks go completely unused, so I do not recommend placing napkins there.
|Napkin to the left of the forks, in a napkin ring.|
Now I understand why magazines and catalogs show gorgeous settings with the forks on the napkins. It is either to show off more on an already crowded table, with limited space on the page, or it is that the stylist or photographer has no idea that placing the forks on the napkins is improper. Those photos are not nearly as irritating as the old magazine and catalog, "mirror -image" backward place settings, that had the photo transparencies reversed prior to printing. Seeing those photos of really beautiful but backward tables, always made me nuts! So walking in to see these gorgeous tables set with such flair for the bridal shower Sunday... I was thrilled.
|The settings Sunday? Wonderful!|
The bridal shower Sunday was just beautiful. Really stunning.
|Kudos to Peggy, and my niece Kelly. They outdid themselves on this shower!|
|Kelly and Peggy have a surprise basket of roses for Casey from Sean. Each had a note attached with a different reason why he loves her. So sweet.|
As I was admiring the tables and taking photos, a good friend of Peggy's, chef Cathy Mc Knight, told me that Peggy had gotten the vintage glasses, mismatched antique silver flatware, etc... from a company called Archive Rentals. I was dying to talk with Peggy about the settings, but didn't want to pester my sister in-law, as she and my niece Kelly had their hands full, putting the finishing touches on everything.
Cathy's son, Scotty, is a groomsman in my nephew's wedding, as is a young man named Garrett Beck. I had interviewed the three of them on sports etiquette back when they were all buddies in eighth grade.
|Garrett, Sean and Scotty all grown up! I still have my taped interview with them on sports' etiquette though, and am planning a blog post using their thoughts from 13 years ago. All are still excellent etiquette tips!|
|Me with Cindy Beck... Cheers to Olympic medals and a lovely afternoon!|
|One of Casey's bridesmaids, Emily with Amanda of "Feast.Fashion.Faves" along with my son Robert's girlfriend Kelsey, at Yolanda's table of "Perfume Bar Soiree"|
Great food, wonderful company, scintillating scents and beautifully set tables. What more could one ask for in a bridal shower?
|Casey opening the gifts Kelsey and I brought for her.|
Victorian and Edwardian Era Bridal Shower EtiquetteThe bestowal of engagement presents has of late years taken on a wholesale aspect. Instead of the occasional receipt of a present from one or another of her friends and relatives, the bride-elect is often now the guest of honor at one or more parties called "showers," and the recipient of numerous gifts which are literally showered upon her. There are many kinds of "showers," as many as the ingenuity and financial resources of friends may admit of. When, however, any one bride is to be made the object of a series of such attentions, it is well for the girl's friends who have the matter in hand to see to it that no one person is invited to more than one shower, or, if so invited, that it be at her own request and because she wishes to make several gifts to her friend. These affairs should be purely spontaneous and informal, and occasions of much fun and jollity. Nevertheless, there is danger of overdoing the idea, and making the recipient feel burdened rather than gratified by the zeal of her friends in her behalf.
Effort should be made not to have the articles given at a "shower" duplicate each other. They should be some simple, useful gifts, which will be of immediate service, and need not be either expensive or especially durable, unless the giver so desires. A "shower" is usually given when a wedding is in prospect, and the necessity of stocking up the new home confronts the young home-makers. The aim is to take a kindly interest in the new home and help to fit it out, more in the way of suggestion than in any extravagant way, which would make the recipients feel embarrassed or indebted, or overload them with semi-desirable gifts.
The "shower" is usually in the afternoon, and is joined in almost exclusively by the girl friends of the bride-elect, with perhaps a few of her older women friends and relatives. If, however, it comes in the evening, the men of the bridal party are usually also invited. The refreshments are simple and the style of entertainment informal. The invitations to a "shower" are usually given by the hostess verbally, or she sends her cards by post with the words "Linen shower for Miss Hanley on Wednesday at four."
There is a wide range of possible kinds of "showers," but the only rational way is to choose for a donation party of this sort only such objects as will be needed in quantity and variety, and in the choice of which one has not too strong and distinctive taste, as, for instance, the following: Linen, towels, glass, books, fancy china, silver, spoons, aprons, etc. Of course, the furnishings of some one room, as the bath-room, laundry, or kitchen, might be the subject of a "shower," but usually a housewife would prefer to have what she wanted and nothing else for use in these places.
|Antique perfume bottles and scents to choose from, at the ready...|
|Best wishes to Casey for a beautiful wedding!|