BAWN
A place for our wedding commuity to connect

BAWN Blog

Our thoughts & yours

How to Set a Proper Dinner Table - Part 1

By:  Kathy A. Newby, CERP – Certified Event Rental Professional   Stuart Event Rental 

Whether you are a seasoned event professional or a “newbie” to the community, we all need to understand the fundamentals of a proper table setting. Here is how to set a table for a perfect dinner.

Traditions and cultures often influence what is proper for a table setting; it varies depending where you live.  As long your table is organized - every place setting the same, all the essentials conveniently placed, and you've dressed the surface to create a warm dining space you are on the right track.

The following via emilypost.com. 

Basic Table Setting: The photo above shows how to set a table for the following menu:

  • Entrée Only

(a)   Dinner Plate: This is usually the first thing placed on the table.

(b)   One Fork: The forks go to the left of the plate. The dinner fork is for the main course;

(c)   Napkin: The napkin is folded, the forks is placed on a folded napkin.

(d)   Dinner Knife: The dinner knife is set immediately to the right of the plate, cutting edge facing inward. (If the main course is meat, a steak knife can take the place of the dinner knife.)

(e)   Spoons: Spoons go to the right of the knife. The teaspoon or dessert spoon goes to the left next to the dinner knife.

Informal Place Setting: The photo above shows how to set a table for the following menu:

  • Soup course
  • Salad or first course
  • Entree
  • Dessert

a)     Dinner Plate: This is usually the first thing placed on the table.

b)    Two Forks: The forks go to the left of the plate. The dinner fork, the larger of the two, is for the main course; the smaller fork is for salad or appetizers. Arrange the forks according to when you use them, following an “outside-in” order. If you need, a small fork for an appetizer or salad served before the main course. Then it is placed on the left (outside) of the dinner fork; if the salad is served after the main course, then the small fork is placed to the right (inside) of the dinner fork, next to the plate.

c)     Napkin: The napkin is folded or put in a napkin ring and placed either to the left of the forks or on the center of the dinner plate. Sometimes, the forks can be placed on a folded napkin.

d)    Dinner Knife: The dinner knife is set immediately to the right of the plate, cutting edge facing inward. (If the main course is meat, a steak knife can take the place of the dinner knife.) At an informal meal, the dinner knife may be used for all courses, but a dirty knife should never be on the table, placemat or tablecloth.

e)     Spoons: Spoons go to the right of the knife. In our illustration, soup is being served first, so the soup spoon goes to the far (outside) right of the dinner knife; the teaspoon or dessert spoon goes to the left (inside) of the soup spoon, next to the dinner knife.

f)     Glasses: Drinking glasses of any kind — water, wine, juice, iced tea — are placed at the top right of the dinner plate, above the knives and spoons.

g)    Other dishes and utensils are optional, depending on what served, but may include:

h)     Salad Plate:  Place to the left of the forks. Salad served with the meal; if so you can forgo the salad plate and serve on the dinner plate. However, if the entree contains gravy or anything runny, it is best to serve the salad on a separate plate to keep things neater.

i)      Bread Plate with Butter Knife: If used, the bread plate goes above the forks, with the butter knife placed diagonally across the edge of the plate, handle on the right side and blade facing down.

j)      Dessert Spoon and Fork: These are placed either horizontally above the dinner plate (the spoon on top with its handle facing to the right; the fork below with its handle facing left); or beside the plate. If placed beside the plate, the fork goes on the left side, closest to the plate (because it will be the last fork used) and the spoon goes on the right side of the plate, to the right of the dinner knife and the left of the soup spoon.

k)     Coffee Cup and Saucer: Our illustration shows a table setting that would be common in a restaurant serving a large number of people at once, with coffee service during the meal. The coffee cup and saucer placement are above and to the right of the knife and spoons. At home, most people serve coffee after the meal. In that case, the cups and saucers are brought to the table and placed above and to the right of the knives and spoons.

Come back next time when we cover Formal Place settings.