Setting a table is truly an art—but it’s an art that anyone can master with a little bit of help. Enter Jung Lee, the incredibly talented founder of FÊTE, a full service wedding planning and design company in New York City. Lee stopped by the InStyle studios recently to walk me through some of the table setting basics. For example, how many glasses should you place out? How tall should your floral arrangements be? Should you use a round table or a rectangular one? These are just a few of the questions Lee answered for me during our table setting tutorial, which you can watch in the video above.
But before you even start thinking about selecting your flowers and placecards, Lee suggests putting some thought into what kind of bride you are. What is your vibe? What feels the most “you”? Don’t let others sway you in a direction that feels inauthentic or else you won’t be completely happy with the outcome of your table décor—or any other aspect of your wedding, for that matter.
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“I hear all the time, ‘I don’t know if I should do black tie’... Listen, it’s your one day and if you’re someone who likes to get dressed up, you should definitely say black tie,” advises Lee. “At the end of the day you have to figure out what makes you you. A lot of times people will think, ‘Oh, I’m supposed to do this,’ and then they do, and that’s what makes it a cookie cutter wedding.”
Easier said than done, right? Lee says that even the most confident women sometimes have trouble determining their vibe or theme, and that can make selecting and arranging the table décor even more daunting. Don’t rush the process. Take some time to think about your wedding after the wedding, suggests Lee, and what you want people to think about 10, 20, even 30 years from now when they look back on that night.
“I’m all about deconstructing and building it back up,” she says. “What’s the feeling? What's the vibe? What are the things that really speak to me? Focus on the things that matter most to you."
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And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Not everyone is a DIY queen, and that’s where wedding planners and designers like Lee come in. When it comes to picking the right person or business to help you plan the wedding of your dreams, she has a few pointers.
“If the wedding planner talks about their own wedding, it’s probably not a great sign,” she laughs. “But look at the breadth of the work that they’ve done, call for references, and ask them questions." It's important to understand why they're making the choices they are so you're not suprised or unhappy with the outcome on the day of the wedding.
But most of all, just try to enjoy the process. If you stay true to yourself from start to finish, you'll end up having the best, most Instagram-worthy night of your entire life.
Very special guest here today, and I'm so excited to introduce her. Her name is Jung Lee. She's the founder of Fete, a full-service events planning and design company here in New York City. So today we are going to show you how to set a table so that you can pull off something that looks this beautiful. At your wedding. So Thank you so much This is stunning, this is just beyond. I am so happy to be here with all of you and with you Aw, thank you and to talk about this. I mean, I really, really love what I do and putting together a super special evening, whether it's for your wedding Or, this weekend's dinner party. People always think it's such a big deal to figure out flowers, centerpieces, and what does my place setting look like. I think we're going to be able to show you one, two, three, an easy way to make it your own. Okay. So, let's talk about what we have here. There's a lot going on. Let's break it down by the place settings, the glasses, the flowers, and walk us through the decisions that you made here. Right. So I think it's always best to figure out, what is the feeling that you wanna invoke? So this setting is, especially when people come to be about weddings. Am I more traditional and conservative? Am I more modern? And people don't necessarily all fit in one bucket Right. I Think what I like to start with is, what is the entire feeling. So, in my mind this was more of a traditional, slightly garden feeling wedding that we were doing. While it looks really beautiful. And complicate it, it's really not. These are flowers that anyone can get from anywhere, whether it's Trader Joe's, to the little Korean grocery store downstairs, or where ever it is. And it's a single noted one flower arrangement. And what makes it traditional is you can see a very simple silver charger with three glasses. And I think it's important to have three glasses. You know people are a little confused. Do I have three glasses? Right. Do I have four glasses? It is all about practicality. One is for water, one is for red wine, and one is for white wine. Sometimes, every now and then, it's not my favorite but some people want a champagne flute as well. Right, I was gonna say that fourth might be that champagne flute for your toast. Right Exactly I love champagne as much as the next, but I realize most people don't, and to have it and force to have the staff put it on makes it so much wasteful and I hate that. Right. So let's go back to the flowers a little bit. I want to talk about, everything is very low I noticed. So you have the candles You know add a little height and add a little dimension to it. But you know, I have been to a lot of weddings where I have seen these massive centerpieces. Sometimes you have difficulty seeing around them, you can't see the cutting of the cake because they are kind of an obstruction. So did you opt for a lower presentation here for that purpose and what are the benefits of having some smaller floral arrangements. For sure. I mean, I think that single centerpiece is incredibly antiquated. We just don't think about, well, what is my centerpiece? What is my colors? I mean, I always think about what is the overall feeling I'm trying to create. And I find that Everyone loves candlelight. Everyone looks amazing in candlelight. Good point. So I'm a bg fan of that. So the candles and the tall tapers is what creates the drama, and you dont' need flowers to necessarily do that. Right. I like the flowers low because I can appreciate them, I can smell it. It's not this big gargantuan thing. And most importantly it's the people that come to your wedding, your dinner party, whatever you're having that make up that atmosphere, and this way I can see across that. Right, I was going to bring that up and also the fact that this is a rectangular table, and I think at so many weddings, you know, you see the traditional round tables that fit You know 8 people or you know, 12 people, but this is very interesting. So I was just at a wedding and I was the maid of honor. And the bridal party we sat at a long rectangular table and it just felt so intimate because we were able to talk to the person across from us. Whereas I think sometimes at round tables you kind of only speak to the person next to you. So, is that something that you find that more people are doing? Rectangular tables as opposed to round tables. I mean, I completely agree with you. It's not sometimes you don't talk to it, is you never talk to the person across from you. Round tables at even spaces or weddings especially is historically for 10 people, sometimes 12 people and you're never gonna talk to that person across from you, it's always left and right. And I have this conversation So many times. Often times with mothers of the brides. [LAUGH] And seeing is always believing. So, I've got something else later on that I'm showing the mom what a round table looks like and what a rectangular table looks like. I also love the rectangle tables because they're really modular pieces. Whereas A round table is like one-size fits tall. And I really don't like that. [CROSSTALK] That is I have to force the eight people, ten people, 11 people, 12 people. The rectangle table makes it modular. So if have eight people, that's fantastic. If I have 18 people, I can make that happen. If I have 28 people, I can also do that. What's the longest table you've ever [CROSSTALK] Gosh, my longest table was. Like 12, 13 years ago at the New York public library. One table, two city blocks long from 40th street to 42nd street. No way. Almost 400 guest, it was a night to remember for sure. That's extremely elaborate. How long did it take you to set that up, I dont even want to know. Can I tell you something, because that's the public library, you dont have a long time so you need to had you marching orders done. But yeah>>> Well I definitely have you plan my next dinner party. [LAUGH] So what else can we talk about here on this table setting. So what we got is, again its again people get so focused on what are my flowers look like and I really encourage people to think about there place setting because that is Just as important if not more important than what's in the center of the table this is what you're actually eating off of what your drinking what your touching fork and knife. So that simple visual rental will make a much more profound difference than the flowers. So whether they're hydrangeas, roses, and lily whatever it is that's sort of secondary and I think about flowers in terms of. I like to figure out what is the freshest. Because whatever it is in season will be the cheapest and the best. Right. Just like produce you know when it's strawberry season or like it's just super yummy. And flowers you don't want to worry about importing flowers from another country. No. Sunflowers, sometimes the situation. Huh-uh. So and I also really love that the not everything is uniform so it adds that dimension and like visual interest here with for example the cups don't look like they're all from the same set for example. So I really love how you put that together. Well it's no different than fashion. Nobody wants to be in one designer head to toe you want to sort of make it your own you want to sort of touch it. Does this Feel right this crystal. Do I like the way it feels? And it's figuring out these things that is what you need to do in figuring out your own customization. Mm-hm. Because these are the details that make such a significant difference. Right, it really is the. It's all in the details. [LAUGH] It is all in the- Make sure you say that all the time. No, and it's like the way you fold the napkin. What does the menu card look like? Should that have color? So both of these place settings that we've got going on is what I consider fairly traditional. And again, my favorite looks are the effortless looks. As women, we wanna look like we just rolled out of bed and we look just like this, right? Didn't we wake up just like this? Yeah, it was so easy. Yeah, exactly. Well your flowers and your centerpieces, also I feel like should feel effortless, but perfect and beautiful. Right. And what I'm gonna show is Even like I again people talk about flowers flowers flowers I like leaves just as much as you can see I've got simple ivy sometimes I literally go to the backyard or my backyard which is like I consider Central Park. Get some roses and just dip it in. It's a simple little bowl. They don't have to match. Again, the small little bit of a leaf makes a giant difference. So there are simple things that you can do at home. For example, taking a flower, cutting it and putting it in a silver bowl or something like that. Exactly, and then can we talk about the other looks as well? Yeah, absolutely. So this is traditional. And I'll show you simple things of Just how to. [BLANK_AUDIO] So this is very pretty, but it's very traditional, as you can see. So if I take that away. I'll be your assistant here. Thank you so much. This is my event planning internship. [LAUGH] If I do this, and I'm gonna take away These two glasses. All right, I'll take those for you. Because let's say I'm more of a transitional person and I'm not super traditional looking. These very simple glasses makes such a big difference. Look at Female 1: Can I give you this? You can see how...It's just really clearing everything up. Female 2: This is making it a little more modern, streamlined here. Female 1: Exactly. Put this down. You're going to have to have a party after this. Female 1: For sure. Female 2: Everyone, you're all invited. And then what I'm going to do is, instead of a pointed napkin, I think just a simple clean fold with the menu card really finishes it off in a really nice way. Yes, definitely Can you see that? It looks very, very streamlined. And I feel like this would work for A variety of different brides. You don't have to feel like, I'm this. I'm that. It really is something that could work for a lot of different women. I think I agree. So simple things like that. So whether you like silver candelabra or a crystal. It just depends on how much Reflection that you like, the girl whose a little bit more glamorous is gonna require a little bit more crystal. The girl whose a little bit more conservative, traditional is gonna prefer silver. But I personally like it when you mix both up. Yeah. Because that's what makes it interesting to me. Yeah, adds more visual interests, it also adds that Supposition of the different vibes coming together to create a really interesting look. Exactly, and people always say to me. How do you do a traditional look versus? A traditional look a lot of times means. This I'm just gonna take this little Ivy out. Okay. And just sort of clean this up and make that go away. But so this is the same hydrangea, which is in, the base is covered, it's like a silver footed one. But if we switch this up to a glass one like this, where you see some of the stems on the bottom, it just makes it a little bit cleaner looking. Do you see now? Yeah, it's really. There's less lines, and- It's amazing how that A tiny little detail, just the vase itself, really gives it a different kind of look. Totally. I'm gonna move this out and add a couple of, you see these modern, but and again anyone can do that, that's what I love so much about this. Right, yeah, so all of a sudden we took something that was for a more You know a traditional kind of throw back vibe and now this is a very clean modern updated Yeah more modern and then from this point we can amp it up even a little bit more and go very modern. I'm gonna show you one more look. Yeah how would we do that to make it for the ultra modern 2016 bride [LAUGH] Exactly. Will you be so kind enough to be my assistant? Absolutely. One more time. [LAUGH] All right great. I'm gonna give you these three. Okay. You got that? fantastic. [SOUND] I'm gonna give you this. Thank you. And now because [BLANK_AUDIO] These straight line glasses are super clean. I mean literally they call them the Calvin glass and sometimes even like instead of its trio sometimes we line it up like a little flight. That a small transition like that will completely alter what a centerpiece- Yeah! You know, that whole place setting will look like. Absolutely. Yeah, so this. And then for the place card or the menu Which one would you select to go with this kind of look, more of a modern [INAUDIBLE]. I mean of course. And sometimes this is an area where you can do a pop of color. I mean, here we've got a little bit of a gold, but you can write people's names on that. So that's nice. Yeah. So, I can do like this. Right. So, you can do it right. Exactly. Super clean. Yeah. Really creates such nice lines and it looks amazing on a rectangular table. Yeah It only like a super clothes Exactly and i gonna put this out as well. And, and again, these are very simple rectangular glass vases. You get them tulips, you lay them down, anyone can do it. Anyone can do that. Anyone can do it, I promise you. And if you can't, you just call me, okay, and I will tell you how. She's the expert. One, two, three, you will figure this out. And it's not a lot of flowers. I think I've got 10 tulips in here. Exactly, so this is a less is more look vibe for the bride who's just a little more streamlined. I love how you're debunking the myth that in order to put a flower arrangement together you have to be a professional florist. That's crazy. Today, we can figure out, we can get the best Cook at home. Your table should be just as beautiful. And authentic to you. That is the key. That is the key. We were talking about this earlier today. About how you might get people swaying you in a certain direction, but you ultimately just need to go with your instinct and what is true to you. Right. I mean I hear all the time. Female 1: I don't know if I should do black tie. I feel like everyone is going to think about I need them to rent a tuxedo. Listen, it's your one day and if you are somebody that loves to get dressed up, you should definitely say black tie. And that means where people can still wear a dark suit and a dark tie, they don't have to rent a tuxedo if they don't have one. Female 2: Exactly. So I have a couple of other questions that were on my mind. A question we get a lot is how can a bride personalize her wedding iso it doesn't feel cookie cutter? Like what are those little things that she can do to make her wedding stand out so it doesn't feel like her friend's or her maid of honor's? Right. I mean I think that I mean right now we live in a world where there's so many things between Pinterest and Instyle. All these things that we see from celebrities. At the end of the day you have to figure out what makes you you. So a lot of times at weddings people think I'm supposed to do this or I'm supposed to do that. That's what they do. That's what makes it a cookie cutter wedding. We did this fantastic wedding where the bride Hates cakes. She was a Russian decent and we did the smallest little fibreg thing out of ice cream. Right. And that you know, and it's just trying to figure out like if you don't like something then, don't do it. Right. This is your wedding, I mean, I do believe that you should know what the tradition is You know the rules that you are breaking, if you're gonna be breaking them, and figure out what's your own and making it your own. Yeah, those are all excellent points. And I was also wondering, how would a bride even just go about really knowing what her personal style is. So it's important to stay true to yourself. But what are the questions you should ask yourself when you start planning your wedding? To determine this is me. This feels like me. Is it a gut instinct, or are there other techniques you can Now, I mean, and I think it takes time. Even the most confident, successful, worldly girl, when it comes to their wedding, you do fall into this bubble, and you don't know what you're doing. And I think the best thing is, is Think about your wedding after the wedding. What do you want people to walk away with? And then, so I'm all about reconstructing and then building it back up. What's the feeling, what's the vibe, what do I want it to look like, what are the things that really speak to me, do I love great dinner parties filled with great wine? Focus on the things that matter most to you. I think people get so caught up this location or that location or the date and all that. Like, that matters, but that's second to who you are as a person. Right, it's like ten years from now What are you gonna look back on and want to remember about that day? And it's not you know, it's you and all the people that you've invited to your wedding because we wanna create this atmosphere like it is so awesome, I don't wanna ever, ever leave. And figuring out how to truly you know between the music and I hear this a lot in terms of like you know he's got such different taste than me Well, that may be true, but obviously there was a common ground. And a lot of times it comes in with the music differences.>> Right. And the wedding, it's a long time between ceremony, cocktail, dinner and dancing. And there's an opportunity to put in all sorts of genres of music to make both parties really happy. Yeah. Okay, one more question. We have time for one more. Okay. And this is the most important question. When a bride and groom are, you know, they're shopping around, they're looking for a wedding planner, how do they know it's the right fit and they picked the right person and what should they look for, what qualities should they look for in their wedding planner? Great question. My partner Josh will say if the wedding planner talks about their own wedding that's usually not a great sign That other point, yep. [LAUGH] I think that weddings are more important than ever before, in terms of leaving a mark of who you are as a couple and as a family. And I do believe that whatever you do in life that's big, definitely try to get professional help in getting you there. So one is, and look at, you know, the breadth of the work that they've done, call for references, understand, and ask them questions, like, "Why did you tell me?" Tell me, and is it one look about them, or is it about you? When somebody is different than your taste, how do you augment it? Yeah. And so it's- I think that's a great point to understand their process. So you're not just saying okay fine, you do it. Right. But you're truly understanding the thought that's going into it So that you can really be a part of the planning process and not just feel like your removed it from it and your showing up on the wedding and your like why are these flowers here? You know there's two types of wedding planners I think there are ones that are coordinators that basically make appointments for you just make sure your doing all the things your suppose to be doing and then there are true Wedding designers and I feel what we do at [UNKNOWN] is we are the architects of somebody's wedding. We create that blueprint and foundation in terms of what it's going to look like and then we build it up and we are their biggest advocates in making sure they are getting the best across just the board in terms of Service cuz people always say to me, whose the best band, what's the best venue. And it really isn't about that, it's that time to figure out the best fit for that couple. Yeah, all good points. Yeah. Well, thank you so much and if people, if viewers want to learn more about FIT, how can they get in touch with you or where can they find on the internet? Well, I would love to speak with you all, I can be reached at fitny.com And also at my store, JungLeeNY.com Awesome, thank you so much for coming Thank you so much, it's fantastic Okay, and now we get to eat? Yes, with wine! It's Friday! Thanks guys! Alright See you later Thank you! Bye bye!