Formal Table Settings

In Corporate Etiquette, Dining Etiquette, featured, Finishing Touch, Social Etiquette, Teenage Etiquette, Workplace Etiquette by treska roden

Formal table settings can be daunting to navigate so let me make it easy for you.

The Table Cloth:
If it is a very formal dinner your starched white table cloth will fall to the floor. If it is a less formal dinner, your starched white table cloth will just cover the table with an overhang of about 20- 30cms.  You will have a white serviette to match the tablecloth.  If your dinner is less formal still, the table cloth and matching serviette will be in any colour or multi coloured.

If it is a formal table setting, there is a charger plate or service plate in the middle of your place setting with the serviette on it.  This is taken away by the waiter and replaced with your entree.  In a less formal dinner, there will be a regular plate at your place setting.

Bread and Butter Plate:
On the left of the plate is the small bread and butter plate with your own small knife for buttering.  This will be placed with the blade facing outwards.  This is so you can just pick it up with your right hand and start buttering.

The forks are placed on the left and knives and spoons on the right.  They are arranged so that you start eating with the utensils from the outside in.  Except for the soup spoon, every other setting has 2 pieces i.e. knife and fork.  When you have finished a course, whether you used both the knife and fork or not, place both on the used plate for the waiter to take away. 

You will notice that the blade of each knife is facing inwards and the tines of each fork is facing upwards.  Your dessert spoon and fork is sometimes placed at top of the plate. It can also be placed alongside the other knives and forks.  If it is placed at the top, the spoon faces one way and the fork the other so that you can just pick up the spoon with your right hand and the fork with your left.  At a formal table setting, your name place will be above the dessert spoon and fork.

If you have ordered fish, the waiter will remove the knife and fork that has been set and replace it with a fish knife and fork.  This is slightly different to a regular knife and fork; the main difference being that the blade on the knife is quite blunt.

Your glasses are on the right hand side of the main plate. They are arranged in a row with the sherry glass on the outside, followed by champagne, then white wine glass, red wine and lastly the water tumbler which is placed above the knives.

Butter Dish:
Your butter dish is usually placed in the centre of the table with a butter knife on it. You take some butter and place it on your small bread and butter plate.  However, sometimes in a very formal setting each guest has their own butter dish.  In this case, there will not be a butter knife on it, you use your own butter knife which is on the bread and butter plate.

Bon appetite.