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Guest Post: Table Setting Rules

Let’s face it: summer is prime party time, and throwing together a chic sorree can get a bit daunting; fortunately the lovely people at FTD have your back. Here’s some tips from them to help you set your next table like a boss.

Whether you’re throwing a formal affair or a hosting a casual dinner party with friends, it’s important to follow basic table setting rules. This is because knowing what dishware, silverware and glassware to set your table with will make allow you to provide a memorable dining experience for your guests.

That’s why FTD created these guides that illustrate different table setting rules including: formal, casual, and buffet. Ever wonder where the salad fork or dessert spoon goes? Each guide features a list of everything you need to set the proper table including an illustration of where each item should be placed. Use these guides to help you determine which table setting is best one for your event!

BT1

Photography by: Jen Wojcik
Basic Table Setting Elements:

Center

  • Charger – The charger is the center stage of the table setting. As various courses come and go, they are set on top of the charger, including the salad course, soup course, and fish course. When the dinner course arrives, the charger is taken away.
  • Service plate – The service plate, or entrée plate, is placed on top of the charger (if one is provided), and is usually taken away before the next course.
  • Napkin – The napkin is folded and placed on top of the plate before service begins.
  • Menu card – The menu card can either be placed on top of the napkin or inserted into the folds of the napkin for a more formal display.

Left-side

  • Salad fork – Salad is the second course that is served, so the salad fork is placed at the outer left edge of the table setting. The salad fork is usually smaller than the dinner fork.Dinner fork – The dinner fork is placed to the immediate left of the charger or service plate. The dinner fork is typically the largest fork.

Right-side

  • Soup spoon – Soup is typically the first course that is served. Therefore, the soup spoon is placed on the outer edge of the right side.
  • Dinner knife – The dinner knife is placed to the immediate right of the service plate, corresponding with the placement of the dinner fork.

Top

  • Water glass – This glass is the largest of the glasses.
  • Wine glass – A single wine glass is all that’s needed for the informal table setting.

BT2

Photography by: Peaches and Mint
Buffet Table Setting Elements:

Center

  • Napkin – The napkin is folded and placed on top of the plate before service begins. Napkins can also be placed at the buffet table near the utensils.
  • Menu card – The menu card can either be placed on top of the napkin or inserted into the folds of the napkin for a more formal display.

Left-side

  • Salad fork – Salad is the second course that is served, so the salad fork is placed at the outer left edge of the table setting. The salad fork is usually smaller than the dinner fork.
  • Dinner fork – The dinner fork is placed to the immediate left of the charger or service plate. The dinner fork is typically the largest fork.

Right-side

  • Soup spoon – Soup is typically the first course so the soup spoon is placed on the outer right edge of the table setting.
  • Dinner knife – The dinner knife is placed to the immediate right of the service plate, corresponding with the placement of the dinner fork.

Top

  • Water glass – This glass is the largest of the glasses.
  • Wine glass – A single wine glass is all that’s needed for the buffet table setting.

BT3

Photography by: Lane Dittoe
Formal Table Setting Elements

Center

  • Charger – The charger is the center stage of the table setting. As various courses come and go, they are set on top of the charger, including the salad course, soup course, and fish course. When the dinner course arrives, the charger is taken away.
  • Service plate – The service plate, or entrée plate, is placed on top of the charger, and is usually taken away before the next course.
  • Napkin – The napkin is folded and placed on top of the charger before service begins.
  • Menu card – The menu card can either be placed on top of the napkin or inserted into the folds of the napkin for a more formal display.

Left-side

  • Salad fork – Salad is the second course that is served, so the salad fork is placed at the outer left edge of the table setting. The salad fork is usually smaller than the dinner fork.
  • Fish fork – Next to the salad fork is the fish fork. In a formal setting, the fish or seafood course is served after the salad. Traditionally, the shape of the fish fork is designed to optimally lift the flesh away from the bones. In a dinner without a seafood course, the fish fork is used as the second course fork.
  • Dinner fork – The dinner fork is placed to the immediate left of the charger or service plate. The dinner fork is usually the largest of the three forks.

Right-side

  • Soup spoon – In a formal service, soup is the first course that is served. Therefore, the soup spoon is placed on the outer edge of the right side.
  • Salad knife – The salad is served after the soup, therefore the corresponding knife is placed to the left of the soup spoon.
  • Dinner knife – The dinner knife is placed to the immediate right of the service plate, corresponding with the placement of the dinner fork.

Top

  • Butter plate – This plate is placed to the top left corner of the place setting.
  • Butter knife – This is placed on top of the butter plate, pointing left and the blade facing down so that the handle is towards the guest.
  • Dessert teaspoon – Placed above the entrée plate, this is the smallest of the spoons.
  • Dessert fork – Placed beneath the desert teaspoon, and can be used for the fruit course.
  • White wine glass – The white wine glass is placed closer to the guest, as it is usually served before the red wine — along with the second course.
  • Red wine glass – The red wine glass is larger and taller than the white wine glass.
  • Champagne flute – The champagne flute is placed to the outer right of the glasses, because it accompanies the first toast.
  • Water glass – This glass is the largest of the glasses, and is placed closest to the guest directly above the knives.