Setting a table for a romantic dinner doesn't have to be a mystifying experience. Etiquette dictates what a proper table setting should include, but the accessories can be as romantic as you would like them to be. You don't even need expensive china. Flowers, candles and napkins can help you create the right atmosphere.
Classic Gold Service
Start with a white or off-white dinner service with gold trim. A service like this can be used for any occasion, but the extras will make it special. Stick with a warm gold palette. Use yellow candles in crystal candlesticks, gold-rimmed crystal glasses and gold flatware. Roses in a lilac color with the stems cut close to the bloom can be arranged in small white and gold bowls, which don't necessarily have to match the china. Likewise, use bowls made from white and gold china for candy or fruit as accents on the table. Napkins should be white linen with gold trim, following the color scheme.
Gold and Silver
Another romantic table-setting idea begins with mixing the color schemes of gold, silver, cream and white, with the warm and cool giving the table interest. The china can be either cream or white with either gold or silver trim. Use heart-shaped candle holders with small votive candles in the middle of the table and crisp, plain white linens knotted with a silver ribbon; tuck a rose into the knot. The silverware should be silver-plated or sterling and the tablecloth white damask or linen embroidered with gold.
A romantic table setting does not have to include fine china. Plan a sunset dinner on a terrace or in a meadow. You can create an intimate mood with plain, unadorned plates and focus on the accessories, such as fresh flowers, a canopy made of printed fabric and several candles of different sizes.
For outdoor settings, you can use a card table with a fringed shawl as a tablecloth, a washtub with ice for champagne and paper lanterns to provide mood lighting around the table.