The humble napkin. It quietly sits there throughout the entire wedding waiting for its moment in the spotlight. The protector of clothes, taking blow after blow of dribbled tomato soup, don’t they deserve their moment in the spotlight, for once, for their services to humanity for goodness sake.
Ok, ok we may have got a little carried away there! However, wedding napkin folds can be really important. They’re an artistic way to zhush up any wedding and take it to the next level.
Intricate napkin folds will have wedding blogs queueing around the block to feature photos of them. Heck, we’re even writing an article about them so they must be important.
In this post we’re going to tell you why you should be folding your wedding day napkins, what you’ll need to make the process super easy, and finally, provide you with a list of 24 napkin folds starting with the easy ones, then the intermediate and then ones that require the most skill and patience.
So, there’s no time to waste, you’ll never look at napkins in the same way ever again.
Why do you need to fold your wedding napkins?
Why bother? we hear you ask. They’re just napkins after all. Go and wash your mouth out with soap! we won’t be having that said around here!
Much like wedding favors, napkins are a great way to enhance the decoration of your entire wedding. They can set the tone, fit in with your theme and leave a lasting impression on your guests.
The goal is a simple one. If you receive just one compliment on your wedding napkin folds then that’s a win in our book. The truth is if you get it right you’ll receive so many more.
They’ll also make your wedding photos look a lot better. Trust us! We’ve shot over 1000 weddings over our 15-year career as wedding photographers. When we’re photographing the details such as the wedding cake, the menu, and the table decor in general it’s the napkin folds that can really elevate the overall design.
They add texture to what can otherwise be a rather flat scene. We also just love to see that our couples have got creative and thought about every last detail. That’s what makes a great wedding in our opinion.
What you’ll need to do for napkin folding perfection
You’ll need various items for your wedding napkin folds to be a success. At the same time though it’ll depend if you’re DIYing this job or requesting that your venue sorts it out for you.
The only problem with outsourcing this task is that they might have their own ideas of the best wedding napkin folds. These ideas may not align with the style of your wedding so you could be limited in some ways.
Regardless we’ve identified some key items we think you’ll need to make your wedding napkin folds an unmitigated success.
The Napkins Themselves
It goes without saying really, doesn’t it? There is a lot of choice out there from plain designs to floral patterns. The possibilities are endless.
Try to choose a material, color palette, and design that blends best with the other elements of your wedding stationery.
Ironing your napkin
To save us from telling you later when you get to the best wedding napkin folds we’ll tell you now. Iron your napkins first. This is essential for napkin folding success. It’ll make the process a lot easier but at the same time mean your napkin is crease-free.
If you want to achieve particularly crisp edges and folds you could also keep that iron nearby. Once you’ve completed your folds this can really help it to maintain its shape and form.
A flat surface
A flat surface is as crucial as an iron. You need somewhere with lots of space to work with. If you’ve invited a lot of guests to your wedding then you’re going to have a lot of napkins to fold.
We suggest a table so that you can sit down or stand up. The floor may seem like an obvious place to fold your napkins but trust us when we say your back won’t thank you for it.
A large dining table is the perfect choice. Once your napkins are folded you can then place them in a box away from the risks of them becoming unfolded or damaged in any way.
Time and patience
If you are taking on this task yourself then you should allow yourself plenty of time. Trust us when we say that folding 150 wedding napkins takes a lot longer than you think!
If you’re not very adept with your hands you may also need to allow time to learn the skill of napkin folding. It can take a lot of patience to really lock down the intricacies and become confident with your folds.
Some napkin folds require accessories to keep them in place. Think of things such as ribbons, napkin rings, or maybe a sprig of lavender.
These accessories can either be functional or purely decorative. Adding them can inevitably increase the amount you’ll need to budget for your wedding napkins. You should make sure to discuss this with whoever is financing the wedding. Equally, if you’re trying to have a budget wedding it may be something you’ll need to skip.
24 of the best Wedding Napkin Folds
Basic Wedding Napkin Folds
Let’s start with what we believe to be the easiest wedding napkin folds to execute. Just because they’re simple it doesn’t mean they’re boring. On the contrary, they can add a minimalist aesthetic to almost any wedding.
Not only that but they’re also time effective and you can recruit helpers to speed up the process even further.
Knotted Napkin Fold
Sometimes keeping it simple can be the way to go. The knotted napkin fold is a really time-effective way of adding a touch of elegance to any place setting. All you need to do is fold your napkin in half, roll it like a sausage, and then tie a knot in the center. Job done. Just make sure to avoid tying the knot too tightly. You want your guest to be able to use it!
Arguably the simplest wedding napkin fold that exists. All you’re going to do is roll the napkin up like you would a Jelly Roll Cake. Simple as that. Place it on the plates that adorn your tables and you’ve quickly elevated the whole table. The only drawback to this fold is there’s nothing to hold it in place. As a result, should it come unrolled it can make the table look messy.
Swirl Napkin Fold
Simple to create but visually striking is the swirl napkin fold. To achieve this, fold in half to form a triangle. Fold in two sides to make a diamond. Lift the napkin from the center and you’ll end up with a triangle again. Turn over the napkin so that you now have a right-angle triangle. Start rolling the napkin from the bottom to the top. All that’s left to do is to stand it upright on a plate. This adds a 3D design to the table setting. For a top tip make sure to iron the seams throughout so that the napkin has the best chance of standing up on its own.
Top Knot Fold
Keeping with the theme of a super easy to achieve napkin fold we have the top knot. This design can be particularly effective for those rustic inspired weddings as it gives the look of a more laid back style. All you do is lay the napkin flat. Grab one of the four corners and bring it to the center. You now pull the napkin through your thumb and index finger of the opposite hand until you reach the middle. Now simply tie a very loose knot at this point.
Single Pocket Menu Holder Fold
This one is slightly more challenging but executing it is well worth the effort. Not only does it look highly stylish but it also serves the purpose of neatly holding your menu. This is sure to go down a treat with your guests who will be wowed by your skills.
As always lay your napkin flat on your surface then make a fold from the bottom to the top. Once there, fold the top layer back down towards the bottom. Flip the napkin over and fold it in half and then in half once more. And there you have it, the perfect pocket for your menu to sit inside.
Waterfall Napkin Idea
If you don’t plan to use plates as part of your wedding table decoration then it can be tricky to show guests their designated spot. That’s where the waterfall napkin idea comes into its own. All you do is neatly fold the napkin in half and then drape it off the side of the table. If you wanted you could still use this napkin fold with plates placed on top to hold them in place.
If we’re talking about classic napkin folds that are easy to achieve, the square is up there. Simply fold the laid out napkin in half. Then pull the material from the top to roughly the middle. Repeat the process from the bottom to the middle until you have a square shape. You can choose to add some accessories if you want that extra bit of flare and place them in the center of your plates.
Draped Napkin Under Salad Plate
Taking inspiration from the waterfall napkin fold, this one shares many of the same characteristics. However, instead of the neat lines, this one is a little more loose and free flowing. Perfect to add to those rustic vibes if that is the theme of your wedding. For this, it’s best that your napkins don’t match as it will create a more naturalistic aesthetic. Simply fold your napkin in two. Pick it up by its middle and place that part under a plate. Allow the rest of the fabric to drape over the edge of the table.
Angled Napkin Under Salad Plate
Another easy option that will add a sense of geometry to your display is the angled napkin fold. All you’ll need to do is fold your napkin at a slight angle and place it underneath your salad plates.
This one is basically like making a paper airplane but out of fabric. It actually looks a lot more impressive than it actually is. So if you’re short on time but still want to catch the eye of your guests the arrow napkin fold could be just the ticket. For a subtle cue to your guest, you could even place the arrow so that it points at their wedding favor. They may not pick up on that but it’s worth a shot anyway.
Intermediate Wedding Napkin Folds
Ready for some more challenging wedding napkin folds? Then continue reading.
Half Wrap Fold
This is the first one on our list that requires an accessory to cinch in the napkin fold in the middle. You can also choose to tuck cutlery into the folds for a neat aesthetic that clearly defines the silverware for each guest.
Layered Pocket Fold
Remember the menu pocket holder from the last section? Well, this one amps it up to the next level. It adds multiple layers which give the napkins a more textural element. You can also stow your menu inside the pocket that is formed along with a sprig of lavender. For a classy and sophisticated look, you could store your silverware in the pocket that’s been created. This one will take much longer to achieve than others on our list so make sure you allow plenty of time before the big day.
Modern Pocket Tri-Fold
If you want to achieve the ultimate in sophistication then this is the way to go. Pair it with a wonderfully designed menu and you’re on to a winner. Once completed the modern pocket tri-fold will resemble that of a perfectly made-up bed. The menu is nicely tucked in waiting patiently for your guests’ arrival. The skill to create this fold will be really appreciated by your guests and we’d be surprised if they didn’t let you know.
The Angled Pocket Fold
The angled pocket fold is another great napkin fold idea for stowing things away. The menu is obviously a great option but you could also think about placing your wedding favors in the fold. This will be great for your guests to discover as they sit down eagerly awaiting their meal or the speeches.
If you want to get a little bit playful with your wedding napkins then the bow tie fold could be the way to go. This one requires an accessory in the form of a napkin ring. This will ensure that the fold remains in place. Particularly useful for outdoor weddings where a sudden gust of wind can throw everything into chaos. You could also use string or ribbon; it really comes down to personal preference.
3D Pyramid Fold
For the wow factor you could opt for the pyramid fold. As the name suggests this is a fold that intends to stand upright resembling a pyramid. Surprisingly it’s also not that difficult to create. A few simple folds and you’ll have your guests in awe thinking you’re some kind of origami master! This fold can work great for plain fabrics to really lift the whole table and give it a more three-dimensional feel.
Advanced Wedding Napkin Folds
If you have the time and patience some of these more challenging wedding napkin folds might be for you. They will require a little more skill to execute but the results can be truly stunning. These napkin folds will have your guests scratching their heads at your artistic ability. They may also be scared to unravel your hard work but they’ll be stunned non the less.
It may have a simple title but don’t let that fool you. The square knot is made up of lots of intricate folds that interlock to form a perfect square. This gives off a super geometric vibe that would pair well with other graphic stationery. It would also work great if your napkin material is a different color on each side. Not only that but the compact size creates a nice and tidy table display.
Sailing Boat Fold
Having a nautical-style wedding? Or just fancy pushing the boat out (pun intended) then the sailing boat napkin fold might float your boat. Pair a white napkin with a teal or blue dinner plate to really set your theme alight. As you’ll want these to stand upright and hold their form it might be worth getting that iron out again to run along your creases.
If you want to go all out, the swan or classic crane origami napkin fold is the way to go. This is one of the only napkin folds on our list where we’d suggest using paper napkins rather than fabric. It requires a lot of tight and intricate folds that might not hold their position without doing so.
This napkin fold is the most labor-intensive so make sure you allow plenty of time well before the wedding. We once photographed a wedding where the couple assembled 3000 of these as decoration for their venue. It was pretty impressive but took them around 6 months to execute. You’ll have to weigh up whether this is time well spent for you in the run-up to your bid day.
Rose Petal Napkin Fold
No wedding is complete without flowers, is it? So why not go for the rose petal napkin fold? You could use a blush pink or deep red colored fabric to really set off your table design. Want to take it a step further? Then try presenting this napkin in a teacup or a champagne flute so that it holds the structure of the folds.
The Love Heart
For the romantics out there what could be better than adorning your table with napkins folded in the shape of love hearts? In a similar way to the rose petal napkin fold a red or pink hue will work perfectly as a color option. However, if you find that a little cliche you could opt for pure white to keep the table design super classy. Once complete you could top the napkin with a freshly cut flower just to add to the romantic charm.
If you want a playful and whimsical wedding napkin fold then look no further than the pinwheel. These work particularly well with vibrant fabrics or ones with jazzy patterns. Placed in the center of a pure white wedding plate they can really catch the eye of your guests. They’ll not only be appreciated by the younger members at your wedding but also by the adults alike.
A Cute Bunny Napkin Fold
Getting married in the springtime? Or having an easter wedding bash? Or just love bunnies? Then why not fold your wedding napkins to resemble just that? This is another napkin fold that is intended to stand upright at your tables. This one’s a super cute idea and particularly good if you’ve invited a lot of children to your wedding. They’ll love seeing the little bunny napkins all lined up at your tables. If you’re having a kid-free wedding then this one might not be up your street but each to their own is what we say.
Now then, if you’re having a Christmas-themed wedding then the only real option is the Christmas tree napkin fold. Of course, this fold can look particularly fetching in green fabric. Pair it with some candy canes and it’ll perfectly tie in to give off those festive vibes. We estimate that this napkin fold will take between 1-2 minutes per napkin to complete. So make sure to allow plenty of time. You could even top the Christmas tree with a star or bow to really complete the look.
So, there you have it, everything you need to know about wedding napkin folds.
Hopefully, our article has helped you and you now know what you’ll need to get folding. At the same time, we hope to have offered you some inspiration for your weddings. We like to think we’ve catered for all skill levels from super easy right through to advanced folds like the swan.
Wedding napkin folds shouldn’t be underestimated. As we’ve said throughout this article they can really elevate the styling of your wedding to the next level. They can tie in themes from the day as well as coordinate well with your other stationery items.
Not only that but the folds you choose can be seasonal, whether it’s Christmas or Easter there is a napkin fold to be found. Our inspiration list only touches the surface of what is possible and it’s definitely something we’ll be adding to in the future.
So, what are you waiting for? Get a piece of fabric and start practicing your napkin folds now!