This Is How You Put Together A Formal Place Setting For Your Wedding Reception

simone hill the knot wedding planning and style expert
Simone Hill
simone hill the knot wedding planning and style expert
Simone Hill
Wedding Planning and Style Expert
  • Simone Hill is a Technical Product Owner for Estée Lauder Companies.
  • A former editor for The Knot, Simone has experience in web development and editorial writing.
  • Simone has a Master of Business Administration degree from Columbia Business School.

It's not every day you host a multi-course sit-down meal. If you're pulling out all the stops on your table, you may want to brush up on how many forks you'll actually need (at an ultra-formal dinner there can be as many as four or five to choose from!). Whether you're planning the place settings for your own wedding or just want a quick refresher before attending a black-tie affair, read on for what you need to know about what's goes on (and around!) your plate.

Start with a charger. These are stunningly decorated pieces with limitless designs, but you don't actually eat off of them. They elevate the look of the table and act as a placeholder for your 'eating' plate. The charger is typically already in place when guests sit-down and servers will top it with various courses throughout the meal.

Get creative with the napkin. There are two main choices for napkin placement: on top of the plate or charger, or beside the forks. When it comes to folding your napkin, a simple rectangle is classic and elegant. Or opt for something more elaborate, like a bow-tie, fan or even a pocket fold that can hold a flower or your menu card.

Work your way from the outside in with the silverware. Remember this simple trick and you'll never have to count the prongs on your fork again! Start with the fork, knife or spoons that are furthest from the plate. As each new course arrives, a set will be removed with your plate, and you'll move on to the next furthest out. Forks are always placed on the left (except for the oyster fork, which goes on the right!) while knives and spoons go on the right. More often than not, you'll start with a salad or appetizer fork. If you're planning a menu, keep in mind you'll need a utensil for each type of food, like fish knives and salad forks (and if you're planning to entertain a lot once you're married it's a good idea to register for these items too!).

Offer separate glasses for red and white wine and bubbly. It may seem like table overload at first, but there's actually a purpose for all of those glasses. Some couples choose to offer their guests a red or white option and then remove the other glasses from the table. Others opt to choose a wine pairing for each course, removing glasses as they're used. Either way, not all the glassware will be there throughout the meal (which can help make the table feel more open and prevent spills). The water goblet is the most important though, as it's always present on the table. It lives right about the knives.

Want more? Of course you do!

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