Are you planning a formal event? When it comes to serving a formal meal, the table setting style sets the tone. When perfectly arranged, a table setting can encourage guests’ behavior to match the formality of the occasion. In addition, they’ll enjoy an attractively and thoughtfully served meal. As everyone knows, food is a sensual experience. The visual aspect of how food is presented will have an enormous impact on how much your guests will enjoy the food.

So, how can you ensure a second to none experience for your guests at a formal event? Whether you’re planning a wedding, charity event or a special birthday dinner, make sure to arrange your table settings perfectly. Here’s your easy guide for making it all come together:

Centerpieces and Candles

The first consideration when creating your table settings is the centerpiece. For any event, centerpieces shouldn’t be so tall that your guests won’t be able to see each other. In addition, try to avoid any strong smelling flowers or candles that will overpower or interfere with the scent and taste of the food. Otherwise, the sky’s the limit for the centerpieces you can create using flowers, fruit, candles, and other decorative items.

The Settings

Before setting your tables, make sure that you have space for each guest at the table. Your guests will need enough elbow room to eat comfortably, so plan on leaving about 2 feet from the center of one place setting to the center of the next.

Charger or Underplate

Your first step is to lay out the chargers or underplates. These decorative plates are on the plate throughout all courses except dessert. When selecting your plateware, you can choose chargers that will match your color scheme, although there are also neutral options available.

Napkins and Name Cards

If you are providing a menu card or using name cards to seat guests, you can place these in the center of the charger. Napkins can also be folded and situated in the center of the charger. The napkin can also be set to the left of the last fork.


Utensil settings are often considered the most complicated part of table settings. However, once you know the rule, it’s simple! First, use the acronym: FORKS to remember the order of the utensil arrangement. First, “F” for forks on the left. Then, the “O” stands for the plate which is round. Skip, “R,” then comes “K” for knives and last, “S” for spoons.

Regarding the order of the utensils, keep the utensils that are used first on the outside, farthest from the plate, and the utensils that will be used last closest to the plate. For example, the fork for the main course should go closest to the plate, and the salad fork belongs to the left of that. Remember not to tuck utensils under the charger. Instead, leave about an inch of space between the plate and the first utensils. Line up the bottoms of the utensils so that they appear neat.

There are two main exceptions to these rules:

Butter Knife

The butter knife should be placed on the bread plate which belongs above the main dish and slightly to the left.

Dessert utensils

Dessert utensils are typically placed above the charger. The fork should be laid horizontally, directly above the plate with the handle to the left. The spoon is positioned above the fork, with the handle to the right.


Finally, come the glasses. The water glass belongs directly above the knives on the upper right-hand side of the plate. Wine glasses and any other glasses that will be used should be placed to the right in order of use. The water glass will remain on the table throughout the entire meal.

When serving using this table setting, servers will place each course’s plate directly on top of the charger. The charger can be wiped clean as necessary between courses but is not removed until dessert.

With this arrangement, you’ll feel confident as the host since your guests will have all the utensils they need throughout the meal. In addition, the layout is attractive and is sure to impress your guests.

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