Indian Wedding Reception Napkin Art

Indian Wedding Reception Napkin Art is a guide on how selecting napkin styles for your wedding reception leads to so much more than that. Napkins at a wedding reception are like a key accessory that complete and outfit and really make it pop. And like accessories there are so many possibilities of colors, size, how and where to display them.

In this guide, we’ll talk about and show you examples of various ways to indulge in napkin art for your wedding reception so you can determine what you want for your wedding.

Pretty much every South Asian bride envisions her wedding day. Her cloths and jewelry, who will be there, making your grand entrance. And brides definitely think about decor. Well, believe it or not, table napkins can have a big impact on the whole look of the space as there are several ways to display napkins. Moreover, we can’t just talk about napkins in a vacuum. You have to look at the overall table design and decor.


First let’s talk about colors. Most venues include napkins in their catering package. Usually they offer a limited selection of 2-3 basic colors i.e. white, black, ivory.

If you want to match the napkin color with your overall decor, you can! This is called a linen upgrade and it’ll cost more because the venue will have to outsource it, but the venue or your decorator will be able to get whatever you want. FYI, at most Indian weddings, couples get upgraded linens from their decorator.

In the photo above, you can see that the couple stuck with basic white linens. Instead it looks like they spent on chair covers. In the photo below, the couple opted for upgraded linens and matching napkins, along with silver charger plates and matching silver chiavari chairs.

There are a plethora of possibilities and every wedding will be different as it will reflect you.

Napkin Display

Another napkin detail is how to display them. It’s like art, there are so many options! The example on the far right is the standard napkin design and layout that comes with the venue’s package. If you want something more like options in middle and left photos, the venue may be able to do that and it will probably, cost more as there’s more labor involved. But look how much something as simple as how the napkin is folded and where it’s placed makes a difference in how the whole table looks!

Charger Plates

Charger plates are for decoration. They are a layer beneath the serving plate. Since most South Asian weddings serve a buffet style dinner, the plates are stacked at the front of the buffet. Referring to that same photo, after guests get their food and head back to the table, their plates will replace the napkins. Whereas in the next photo below, the plate will be stacked on top of the gold plate.

No charger plates; Photo: Lin & Jirsa
gold charger plates and purple napkins at Indian wedding reception
Guests will stack their dinner plate on top of the gold charger plate. Photo: Lin & Jirsa
Charger plates and table settings at an Indian wedding reception in Newport Beach
Photo: Aaron Eye Photography

Contrast the examples, with and without the charger plates. Which do you prefer? FYI, charger plates cost anywhere from $1-5 per plate to rent.

Silverware and China

At most receptions, you’ll see the silverware placed on the sides of the plate as you see in the right image. However notice in the left image, the settings are on the plate. It looks beautiful, but you know at least 1 person is going to drop their silverware while moving it to the sides. So make sure your venue has extra silverware. An additional elegant touch in that photo is the menu on each place setting.

Also, make sure you specify silverware for dinner and dessert. Most Indian weddings require a fork and spoon, and knives are optional. Notice in the left image above, which doesn’t have dessert silverware, whereas the image on the right has the additional fork placed horizontally above the napkin. In the left image, that means dessert silverware must be made available later in the evening and somewhere else like at the dessert bar. These are the little logistical details that can easily be missed. But just imagine if dessert silverware was forgotten altogether?

I actually attended a sangeet once, on a Friday night that was at a venue that was pretty far for most guests. On Friday nights everyone’s sort of running late because they have to get home, dressed and drive to the venue. And by the time everyone got there, it was almost 8pm so people were tacitly hoping dinner would be served immediately. And it was, but somehow they forgot silverware. I mean there was nothing, so silverware at all. The host families scrambled sending family members to local stores to buy plastic silverware.

I wanted to show you the photo below because they decided to put everything on the table (minus charger plates): dinner and dessert silverware, water glass, champagne flute, as well as coffee cups and coasters and of course the napkin. Contrast this setup with the photo above, with just the napkin dinner and dessert silverware and no glassware at all.

Notice here, they included the coffee cups, water glasses, and champagne flutes on the table setting. Some people may think the table looks crowded. Others may like that ‘full’ look and that everything guests need is right in front of them.
In this example, they went with upgraded table linens from their decorator but the basic napkins provided by the venue in the basic napkin design and layout included in the package. No charger plate. But they made their own ‘thank you’ cards and placed them on top of the napkins. Photo: Randery Imagery

Learn more about venue outside catering packages here. Just so you know most venues include glassware, flatware, and linens in the outside catering package.

{Take Aways}

While this article started off seeming like it was just about napkins, it’s really about planning out your menu and when dessert, coffee, tea will be served and then ensuring you have all the necessary accoutrements. 

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! 🙂

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