A fun, romantic outdoor dinner inspired by The Legend of Tarzan is easy to make with some lace, plants, candles, mosquito netting, and any other odds and ends you can find.
My husband and I went to see The Legend of Tarzan, which is a perfect date movie with lots of action and adventure and even some romance. It’s set mostly in the Congo during the Imperial Era, around the 1880s, and the panoramic shots of Africa are breathtaking.
I have to admit that when I watch movies with historical settings, I mostly look at the costumes and sets, and The Legend of Tarzan did not disappoint. From the tribal African costumes to the rugged leather and linen of the Europeans, there was some wonderfully detailed clothing and accessories. And I really loved the contrast of elegant Victorian finery with the untamed African wilderness in the settings. That juxtaposition flowed through the entire movie.
Watching The Legend of Tarzan inspired me to create a romantic outdoor tablescape with the same contrast of elegance and nature in my own backyard. I used fake plants, lace, and whatever Victorian and jungle props I could find around my house.
Creating the Setting
I started off the romantic setting with mosquito netting. If you don’t have mosquito netting, you could use swaths of fabric. Tulle would work well, and it’s pretty inexpensive. I happened to have mosquito netting just sitting in a closet, waiting to be used for something because our current bedroom is too small to put it up.
I didn’t want the netting dragging on the floor the whole time I was moving stuff around and working. It snags and rips pretty easily. So I tied up the four sides to keep them out of the way. They will come back down when everything else is ready.
I strung our outdoor solar lights behind the background. You’ll be able to see them better later.
Next came the background. Our girls’ fairy garden is behind this area. It’s cute, but not very romantic. A bench topped with lots of props hid the fairy garden and made the space feel more enclosed and secluded. I used an old suitcase and fake mango tree from our bedroom.
Next the table and chairs. The table is just a simple metal table, but it will be covered by a tablecloth, so it doesn’t matter how it looks. Only it’s size matters. I wanted a small table to fit inside the netting and to be more intimate. The chairs are outdoor dining chairs from Ikea. They happened to look perfect, but any wood chairs would work fine.
To get the mix of Victorian elegance and jungle ruggedness, I tried to use a lot of fabric (Victorian) and plants (jungle). I pulled several fake plants from our house and cut a few clippings from our yard—don’t you love those ivy vines?
There is a scene in The Legend of Tarzan where Jane is walking through her old, abandoned home in Africa. She passes a velvet curtain with gorgeous tassels. I needed that in my setting. I used a chenille throw with tasselled fringe as a tablecloth. Then I added a lace tablecloth on top.
The chairs have fur and tulle draped across to add softness to the wood, and to be a little reminiscent of Tarzan.
I just used our regular dinner dishes with napkins. I did pull out the heirloom silverware, though. I use that fancy stuff any chance I can. White or lace napkins probably would have looked nicer, but I only used what I already own.
I also would have liked to use silver candlesticks, but, sadly, I don’t have any of those either. Instead I stuck candles in two old glass bottles. If I couldn’t make it elegant, at least I could make it rustic.
I even added a couple of my toddler’s African animals, partly hidden behind the decorations. Just for fun.
I put an extra table on the side of the space. With a dinner table as small as we had, it helps to have an extra place to put dishes and serving things.
Finally, lighting will make or break the mood of any setting. For a romantic, rustic dinner, we needed candlelight. I started with just two candles, but realized we needed a few more to be able to see our food. And each other.
Just a warning: be very careful with candles near hanging fabric. Especially outside where there’s usually a breeze. I didn’t light the candles until we were ready to start dinner. And I didn’t leave the space until I had extinguished all of them.
These are the solar lights in the background. They don’t give off much light, but they add to the ambiance.
Candlelight is beautiful. Those blue and white candles on the large candlesticks are from our winter tablescape.
And what did we have for dinner? Well, I’m not a food blogger, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Or search Pinterest. (Just a hint though, our meal started in the freezer.)
Creating a romantic outdoor dinner setting with lace and rustic decorations was fun, and it let me have a memorable romantic at-home date with my husband.