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Turning the tables

With functionality and flair, tables play a pivotal role in elevating event experiences.

Features | April 1, 2024 | By: Holly Eamon

Covered or bare, cocktail or farmhouse-style, tables are transcending their conventional role as pillars of support, serving as integral components for fostering connection and awe among event guests.

CORT Party Rental’s 8-foot-by-40-inch king banquet tables are intermixed with 72-inch rounds for a wedding at The Admiral’s House in Seattle, Wash. This particular layout maximizes the tent’s space and helps guests avoid weaving around a maze. Photo courtesy of Katie Mangold Photography.

“We’re seeing a kind of dichotomy happening,” says Bill Child, account manager at Look My Table, Huntington Beach, Calif. “The focus on event aesthetics is growing as people continue to embrace social media and ‘one-up’ what they see online to wow their guests. At the same time, the growing acceptance of more casual gatherings that started during the COVID pandemic has led to an increase in casual events focused on social connections, not the decor.”

These two opposing trends underscore one, shared necessity: creativity. Whether an event planner is conceptualizing elaborate, themed place settings or table and chair arrangements that will facilitate better conversation, “their creativity is only limited by their tools,” Child says. 

CORT Party Rental’s white Sonoma tables are set end to end with the company’s white cross-back chairs for a wedding at Novelty Hil-Januik Winery in Woodinville, Wash. The Sonoma collection includes a variety of table leg heights. Photo courtesy of Into Dust Photography.

Custom effects

Look My Table is a recent collaboration between Instent Industries, a tent and furniture manufacturer also in Huntington Beach, and SINOTEC, a European event furniture company. Drawing inspiration from its European roots, the Look My Table line includes modular cocktail, coffee and buffet tables that can be easily customized by mixing and matching its tabletops, frames, finishes and colors.

“They give planners and designers flexibility to make every event look different—and even make a game-time decision on-site if they need to change out a color or style on the fly,” says Joel Gumbayan, digital marketing manager.

With modern tabletop colors ranging from marble to bamboo, and sleek metal frames in a variety of finishes, Look My Table products can easily stand alone—and stand out—without the need for embellishment.

At Palmer Snyder, an event furniture manufacturer in Conneautville, Pa., custom laminate tabletops do the same at many corporate events. “Seemingly small offerings like this can make a big difference in transforming a space,” says Kevin Lococo, vice president of sales. “We offer 10–15 standard styles and colors but often get requests for custom designs, such as university logos.”

Look My Table’s Kurvo cocktail tables (white frames with light wood tops) and Stako bar stools (white frames with padded, white vinyl seats) complement the surrounding lounge furniture.

CORT Party Rental in Seattle, Wash., has also benefited from increased interest in customization. While 10–11 employees run the company’s custom, in-house manufacturing services year-round today, the operation began just a few years ago as a way to keep a handful of workers busier during the off-season.

“More customers are trying to match Pinterest-inspired pictures, and it’s great to be able to create what they’re looking for with a timeline that we control,” says Phil Heidt, group vice president. 

CORT’s subset of products and accessories that can be regularly repainted have also become a customer favorite, especially for larger weddings. The team can apply any Benjamin Moore paint color to products the customer selects, from tables and bars to stage fronts and back bars. “It’s definitely an expense, but people are willing to pay for personalization,” Heidt says. 

Additionally, CORT helps customers create a unique atmosphere by importing tables and furniture from vendors found at designer-focused events, such as the High Point Market and Las Vegas Market. “The challenge is that some of these products are not made for the rental industry,” Heidt says. “We test a variety of samples and don’t mind paying extra for the ones we like to be designed differently so they can handle more of the day-to-day use rentals require.”  

Look My Table’s Stako cocktail table (black frame with grey wood top) features the optional purse hook and ice bucket holder. The company’s Kurvo tables surround the perimeter. Both sets are stackable, and the matching table tops are fitted by placing them on the metal frame. Photos courtesy of Look My Table.

Made to mingle

The risk in breaking from more traditional products has proven its worth for CORT, whose lounge furniture division has quadrupled in the last three years. “Hosts are looking for new ways to provide engaging settings for their guests, especially during the cocktail hour and around the bar,” Heidt says. “Our side, coffee and cocktail tables are incredibly popular among customers seeking a more relaxed vibe conducive to conversation.”

Cocktail tables are also in high demand at Palmer Snyder—and its new pub tables are a close second. “Our high-top pub tables have proven to be a very successful investment,” Lococo says. “People want to socialize at an event, and these tables give them the feeling of being at a bar while having the freedom to move around and mingle.” 

Look My Table is experiencing a similar trend. “When I started in the industry over 25 years ago, the idea that someone would set couches up at their wedding would be unheard of,” Child says. Now, the company’s coffee and cocktail tables are coveted additions to lounge-style settings featuring a variety of furniture—including couches.

Palmer Snyder’s 30-inch round 100 series cocktail tables with silver X-bases are pictured stacked and with both the black bullnose edge or metal C-channel edge. Photos courtesy of Palmer Snyder.

“It’s all about mixing things up,” Heidt adds. “We’re seeing more ottomans and poufs being used as tables. More people are mixing rectangular or square tables with round ones, and using linens for some tables while leaving others bare—especially with farmhouse tables, which remain one of our most requested products.”

People are getting more creative with wedding head tables as well. At upscale events, Palmer Snyder’s king table is a hit. Compared to the standard 30-by-96-inch rectangular table, the 48-by-96-inch king table “makes you feel regal,” Lococo says. “It also provides 18 extra inches in the middle for decorations. Couples can stack it up with all kinds of personal touches and people will still have room to eat.” 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lococo often sees couples forgo a head table at smaller, less formal weddings, choosing to sit among guests at small tables clustered together. And for wedding parties comfortable dining on barstools, Look My Table cocktail tables make an unconventional head table when joined together, with optional curved end frames for an added flourish. “Because of their modular, mix-and-match nature, you can make several shapes with our products—it’s all about how our customers want to express themselves,” Child says. 

Holly Eamon is a business writer and editor based in Minneapolis, Minn.

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