Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Q & A: DIY Wedding Tablecloths

Reader Question: Hi Sara, I was just reading about how you bought sheets from the Good Will store and used them as tablecloths and I was wondering if you did anything special to them (other than washing, obviously) such as hemming or sewing before you used them in your wedding? I was also wondering if you had any photos of them in use that you could e-mail to me?

Yes, the old sheets as tablecloths idea...

It sounds disgusting, but it actually worked quite nicely.

Matt and I went to a couple of thrift stores and scoured the sheet section to find sheets that a) could pass for vintage tablecloths and b) weren't stained in disgusting ways.

We walked out with handfuls of tablecloths for only $33. All along, the goal was to hem them to fit the tables at Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Unfortunately, I hate sewing big things (it's hard to keep them straight). The tablecloths stayed on our "to-do" list for many months. It was still on the list when we were getting ready to leave. I stressed about it and then reminded myself: "I want our wedding to be about community, connection, commitment and fun--not tablecloths."

I handed all the sheets to Cathy and Cory--the innkeepers--since we had paid them to help us set up for the reception. And then I stopped worrying about it. I truly wanted to live in the moment and bask in the joy that a wedding should be.

During the reception, I realized that we apparently didn't have enough tablecloths because Cathy and Cory had to use some of theirs. I also realized that they made do we our unhemmed sheets by simply folding them under. Voila!

Those two realizations passed through my head in about a millisecond, and I was done caring or thinking about the aesthetics of our wedding.

One of the problems with looking at so much lovely wedding porn (which I do!) is that I start to think about creating a wedding for the voyeurs rather than the participants. When we look at the flat, beautiful images from other people's weddings (the centerpieces, the tablecloths, the bouquets, the rings, the shoes, etc.), we start to internalize the idea that the guests at our wedding will be scrutinizing these things at our own weddings. The truth is, if we invite our nearest and dearest to our weddings, most of them won't be voyeurs; they will be participants. And participants care a lot less about the beautiful details that a) can stress us out, b) can cost a lot of money, and c) detract us from the more meaningful aspects of planning a wedding.

Sorry I doth digress so much!

Long story short: Folding the extra fabric under worked perfectly well. I don't have time to scroll through all the photos from our wedding to find a picture, but I think I can easily upload one from a recent potluck at our house (we now use sheets as tablecloths all the time!). Sorry about that!

Enjoy your planning!

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Sarah said...

I agree. What else do you do with photos of your shoes? Or the rings? Or the table numbers? You put them online.

A Los Angeles Love said...

Thank you, yet again. I'm learning to sew, partly with the idea that I want to sew our table runners or table clothes and chuppah. But if it's taken me two months to start dealing with our curtains (blerg, not so much fun, after we picked the fabric) then I'm already willing to be realistic about tossing the tablecloths and other extraneous details. The chuppah, I'll prioritize. The other wedding prettiness, maybe not, because prettiness does not a wedding make.

Plus Size Bride said...

we bought a super large bolt of fabric then used the stape gun to tack it to the under side of the table. I don't think anyone noticed and it kept it in place for the table dancing later.

Unknown said...

Sara: I loved your digression and will try to remember it over these next months while we're putting together the wedding. Our budget is $4k and it leaves very little for decorating...

Sara H said...

I very much agree with how caught up we get in the aesthetics. It is a nice touch, however the only reason I look back at the wedding with a touch of regret is that I spent so much time obsessing about things and when they invariably didn't match, it made me mad at myself for spending so much precious thought on it. I absolutely enjoyed my wedding to the fullest and did not care in the moment about how things didn't work out as expected...but it is the time after the wedding that I am dwelling on it and my whole process in general. I hope I can learn from this in future large parties that we choose to host. Thanks for the digression - it helps me to know the minor obsessions and worries happened in others!

Gigi said...

You are so right on that the details are for those that aren't actually there!

A little different, but my husband got really worried about our tablecloths having fold lines in them. Which made me start to think about it.

Since neither of us wanted to spend out days before the wedding ironing 15 12 foot tablecloths, we let them be - and don't care a bit about the wrinkles in the pictures.

Ice Pizza said...

Wow. I'm impressed with the sheets-with-sides-folded-at-the-last-minute. A wedding doesn't have to be perfect by the glamorous wedding magazines standard. You can just make do with everything available and be contented and have fun and your wedding can be perfect enough for you. :-D

redfrizzz said...

thank you for digressing. well said. i often forget that factor, just as you put it- how all the wedding porn internalizes into some huge critique when actually...it's a wedding. our wedding. with our friends and family.
well put. thank you.

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