Modern Romance: It’s a fresh look you’ll love. Execute it successfully, and your table will never be monotonously minimalist or tiresomely traditional again.

Rachael Afflack Mayo, principal of Rachael Ellen Events.

The most important rule to successfully style a memorable tabletop, according to Rachael Affleck Mayo—principal of Rachael Ellen Events, is to determine your look and use it to guide every choice you make. For this decidedly modern-meets-romantic design, Mayo began with the flowers, which she used to establish the loose romantic side of the setting’s style, then added contrasting elements to give it a modern edge.


“I wanted a garden-inspired style,” says Mayo, referring to a loose and multi-dimensional arrangement rather than a single-level, traditionally round version. “You want the flowers to look as if you just brought them in from your garden and put them directly into the vase,” the event planner and floral designer explains. As with most things that look effortless, much skill is needed to successfully execute this organic style. “You have to be very thoughtful in the placement of the flowers,” she says. Unlike a traditional arrangement with which you cut all the stems the same length and position them evenly in the container, garden-inspired style requires that you to look at it from every angle to ensure the eye sees multiple shapes and depths from all sides,” Mayo explains. “Go for an organic look and focus on going wide while adding a few upward-reaching pieces.”


Mayo chose taupey blush rather than white flowers to serve as the neutral base for a  monochromatic color scheme enriched with warm tones and mellow hues. “The blush reads romantic while shots of fiery red and mustard yellow add strength and dimension,” she says. Gleaming metallic gold accents add warmth and a touch of bling while a classic white tablecloth and plates let the table’s more dynamic elements stand out. “They allow the flowers and gold pieces do the talking,” says Mayo, who also chose champagne-colored napkins to bridge the white- and gold-toned elements.


Clean lines and modern forms provide the modern “edge” Mayo desired to contrast with the floral arrangements’ organic, loose forms. A geometric, gold-toned candleholder anchors the tablescape, adding height to the setting without blocking views across the table. “It’s important to create varied heights,” she says. Tall, thin taper candles ideally contrast with the width and fullness of the flowers. “I love their old-world, romantic feel.”


The calligraphy-scribed place card, cleverly set in the tines of a sleek gold fork, didn’t happen by chance. Nor did the pairing of cut-glass goblets with brushed-gold tumblers or the union of clustered, old-fashioned carnations and roses with strikingly modern orchids. “It’s important to tie the modern and romantic styles together wherever you can,” Mayo says.

Previous articleBaked Apple: Easy and Sweet
Next articlePhoto Friday: Climate-Driven Architecture
Brad Mee
Brad Mee is the Editor-in-Chief of Utah Style & Design Magazine.