7 Questions to Ask to Get the Right Tablecloth Fabric for Your Big Event

We get it. There’s a lot to think about planning a wedding or a big event. One of the key ingredients to a successful event design is the right tablecloth (and part of that is deciding on the material). It’s kind of like buying a house—it’s all about finding the perfect one for you, given your preferences. From polyester, spandex, and cotton to linen, satin, and silk, the choices can seem endless. But never fear. We’re here to help. Read on to find out how to find the best tablecloth material for your special event.

  1. How formal will my event be?
    Often, the choice of tablecloth material can be determined by how upscale an event will be. And though silk or linen provide a luscious feel to the tables, they also can be budget-busting materials that rarely provide that right combination of value and affordability. If you’re hosting ambassadors, dignitaries, or celebrity VIPs at your event, consider luxury textiles like silk, satin, or linen. But if you’re a DIY bride or an event or wedding planner, polyester, spandex, or cotton are low-maintenance high-value materials that hold up well over multiple events and multiple washes.
  2. Will my event be outdoors or indoors?
    For outdoor summer weddings, having sturdier, stain-resistant materials like polyester and spandex can help you gain peace of mind knowing that grass stains or food and wine spills are no match for these fabrics’ stain-repellent properties. If indoors, you can, of course, have more freedom to explore a variety of tablecloth materials (keeping in mind budget, maintenance, and design)
  3. How much maintenance am I willing to do?
    The beauty of purchasing tablecloths (rather than renting them) is that you can use them for multiple events (and you don’t have to reimburse the rental company for damaged items). If you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease, you’ll find that polyester, spandex, and cotton are reliable fabrics you can clean in the washing machine (gentle cycle). While linen, silk, and satin are very pretty, they are delicate and will require spot cleaning, hand washing, or dry cleaning. Most tablecloths will need ironing, though spandex will not. Deciding up front how much time, effort, and expense you’d like to invest in your tablecloths will help you in the final decision.
  4. What types of tables do I need to cover?
    You might find that you’ll need a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes to outfit all your tables for your big event. For example, you might choose polyester tablecloths for the round dinner tables, a more delicate material like silk or linen for the star-of-the-show wedding-party table, and then a wrinkle-free stretchy material like spandex to handle the buffet line, cocktail highboys, and cake or gift tables. We always recommend spandex for non-sitting tables because spandex tablecloths attach to the table legs in a way that doesn’t leave legroom for sit-down dining. Once you have an idea of the layout of your reception, the number of guests, and available tables, you can narrow down your tablecloth material choices further.
  5. How will my tablecloths fit into the theme/design?
    Tablecloths can be either a simple one layer or can be layered with additional materials. We recommend starting with a sturdy fabric like polyester for your base layer and then adding special touches as extras, as your budget allows. Elegant additions might be a whimsical sheer organza or satin table runner or a secondary, smaller square tablecloth for the round tables to give a more angular dropline design. Usually the bottom layer, which covers the most area and is most exposed to stains, should be a stain-resistant fabric like polyester or spandex, while the overlays can be a wider variety of premium fabrics.
  6. How many tablecloths will I need and how does that fit with my budget?
    Though you may want silk for every table, you might be better off with more value-priced materials like polyester and splurging on the accent details in order to stay within your budget (and still get that professional and elegant presentation you want). At the time of this article, for a 150-person event, with 8 people at 60” round tables, you can purchase 20 floor-length 120” polyester tablecloths from us for only $186 ($1.24 per person). That’s almost 40% cheaper than rentals* (and you get to keep the tablecloths for multiple events!)
  7. How much time can I spend on setting up?
    If you’re looking for an easy and fast set up with no ironing, spandex will be a material to consider, though they are not recommended for the dining tables because they leave little to no room for guests to fit their legs. The rest of the materials we mention (polyester, satin, silk, linen, and cotton) will need ironing before use. Polyester will handle medium heat (and perhaps a little impatience) while satin and silk can easily burn and require a cool setting (and a cool head), along with a press cloth over the silk to prevent burning.

Certainly, we’re partial to our polyester and spandex tablecloths, which can offer you both the uniformity of a quality design along with the durability to withstand the rigors of multiple large events like weddings, anniversaries, and charity events. But there is also a place for higher-end fabrics depending on your budget and purpose for the event. We hope this helps you on your way to a successful and happy event.

*Calculations based on a sampling of linen rental prices.