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How to Set the Perfect Table by Marcio Stahlecker

How to Set the Perfect Table by Marcio Stahlecker

For a special event, the table setting is just as important as the dishes that are served. Marcio Stahlecker gives you some advice

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One of New York’s greatest passions is throwing a party and creating unforgettable events. Whether you’re celebrating a wedding, a birthday, or an anniversary, the important thing is to amaze and astound with an event that is both unique and well coordinated. And so what makes an event memorable? A dramatic setting, an impeccable and creative table, an excellent catering service, the right location and, of course, a superb orchestrator. For the last four years, the work of Brazilian-born Marcio Stahlecker – the head designer for Fête, one of New York’s most important event planning companies – involves all of this. Creating and directing dreams.

I met with him at his home in Queens, recovering from a scorching hot weekend, after having travelled to Connecticut and the Hamptons for two events. I asked him to share with us the secrets of creating a perfect event and a perfect table.

What’s the secret to your work?
The secret lies in creating an extraordinary event, made to measure. Clients often arrive with clear ideas of what they want already. Our job is to transform it into reality and coordinate the event. Really, a good event can be reduced to two things: personalizing and orchestrating the entire experience, which should be magical and unique!

Who are your clients?
Professionals and people in show business, but our clients’ names are top secrets. Obviously, in this kind of work, the budget plays a big part in the final quality of the work.

How can we create a perfect table?
The table is one of the most important places in an event, especially if it’s a wedding, because guests will spend most of their time there. The size is really important. Rectangular tables are better, it encourages more intimate conversation, whereas round tables with diameters larger than 1.5 meters tend to isolate guests, forcing them to talk only with the people sitting next to them.
In terms of choosing the tablecloths, it’s best to opt for heavy fabrics like linen and silk. It’s important that they give an appearance of luxury and not cheapness. They should be floor-length as well. A little secret? Create a perfect rectangle with safety pins to hide the excess fabric at the corners, and the table will look much neater. As an alternative to a table cloth, and for a more modern, design-oriented look, you can use reflective Plexiglas in gold or silver: the whole table will appear twice as large, with an interesting optical effect. And when you light candles it looks truly magic! To make everything look more homogenous, the chairs should all have slipcovers that match the tablecloth.

What do suggest as table decorations?
To create a rich, inviting table, be careful not to clutter it with too many objects. You should follow a certain logic when it comes to setting a table. You can pick out different models of plates, though. In a recent event, we alternated Fornasetti plates with white porcelain ones, so as not to make the table to “heavy” looking.

And for the space?
It’s very common to use drapes to cover the ceiling or walls. Those in white organza give an ethereal effect, almost like you’re in a cloud. Then you can add a million colours with LED lights when the party begins.

The magic touch?
Candlelight makes everything much warmer and prettier. We use a lot of candles for our events, both on the table as well as all around the room: tea lights, votives, candles of all sizes and widths. There’s something truly magical about candlelight. Just one rule to follow: arrange them in an organic way and don’t use too many different models. And don’t forget to consider the time of day of the event. The best moment to begin is surely at sunset, when guests can enjoy a beautiful, natural spectacle, and then immerse themselves into the event itself.

Which flowers to choose?
Flowers are really important and can definitely change the budget of the entire evening. I recommend favouring flowers that are in season and distributing them in small bouquets on the table and alternating them with more dramatic compositions. The way they are disposed should be harmonious and seem “natural”, and extend for the entire length of the table.
For an extra touch, you can add seasonal fruits, like blackberries or grapes. Or else use cherry blossom branches or palls of lemon leaves for a sure-fire effect.

Have your clients ever requested anything particularly odd or noteworthy?
One of the most unusual tables we’ve created recently was the one inspired by the Mondrian Hotel. And again, the idea came from the client. The result was a composition with more than 70 vases on each table, positioned to created a giant glass sculpture.

A tip on how to set up a romantic dinner for two?
The location is fundamental, and a beautiful view is always good. I’d choose a terrace that looks over the city or else over the seaside. White should be the dominating theme, like a little gazebo covered in soft, white organza. The table should be in white silk, candleholders and under plates in silver. Crystal glasses. As for flowers, orchids are fleshy and sensual.

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