Table Setting Etiquette

Have you ever felt like Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman when sitting at a formal table and see the setting in front of you and you have NO IDEA what cutlery is used for which dish? That you felt silly or overwhelmed for not knowing? As we were taught then, a lesson I still remember to this day, start from the outside and work your way in.

Now how about if you are hosting and have to set your very own table. Do you ever question yourself as to where does everything go and you are just not sure? That you are now feeling stressed because you want everything to be just right and now you are overwhelmed?

Well, I am here to help you and to guide you to a stress-free setup.

Images are super helpful of course (which we will have here) but as you are placing each element for your place setting, think about what you are serving and in what order. Again, I like to work backward (read my previous post about that and how it works) so that no step is missed.


How to set a simple 4-course setup:

1- If you are using placemats they go down first

2- if you are using a charger it is next

3- Place your dinner plate on top of the charger

(now put your fork to the left of your plate and the knife to the right facing inwards)

4- Salad plate on top of main course plate

(now put your salad fork next to your main course fork-working your way outward)

5-Soup bowl on top of a salad plate (now place your spoon next to your knife- working outward)

6-If you are serving seafood your seafood fork is next to your soup spoon.

7- Dessert fork placed on top of placemat horizontally, prongs facing to the right

8- Dessert spoon/teaspoon above your dessert fork horizontally but facing to the left

9- Water glasses at top right, furthest in 

10- Red wine glass to the right of water glass

11- White wine glass to the right of red wine glass

12-Bread plate and knife top left of your placemat


In my opinion, do not put cutlery out that you are NOT using because you think it looks better. It will just become confusing and more work for you in the end. If you are not serving one of these courses simply just exclude it.

In my opinion, you can have your soup bowl and salad plate out on your place setting for presentation if you like as it is a beautiful way to entice your guests as to what lies ahead regarding their meal. But if this is not for you, having your napkin and napkin ring out on your dinner plate or chargers is just as elegant to great your guests with. No rule here.

When it comes to charges, I LOVE to leave my chargers out while my guests are eating because they are so pretty and keep the evening sophisticated throughout the night. However, at fancy restaurants they do remove them before serving you. Again, no right or wrong here. Although, for me when it comes to dessert that is usually when I remove my chargers alongside their dinner plates as I find the chargers can be pretty dirty at this point.  I bring out my dessert in a bowl or plate and it gives the table a fresh and clean way to end the evening.

But remember, when it comes to execution this is where you have the freedom to orchestrate however you like to see your evening unfold because after all, it is your party and you will do what you want to.

Remember... to have fun!


March 8th, 2021


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