Friday, May 15, 2009

Formal Place Settings

If you are having a formal wedding, the formality should permeate throughout the day. From your invitation, to program to ceremony and finally to your dinner and reception – the level of formality should be maintained.

This post is going to be about your place setting.

This place setting is used for a menu that would look like the following:
Appetizer - Shellfish
First Course - Soup or fruit
Fish Course

In a formal place setting the utensils are placed in the order of use from the outside in (this is also true in informal and basic place settings) but there are two exceptions in formal dining - the forks are on your left and the knives and spoons are placed to your right.

There are 5 elements to a place setting:

Salt and pepper shakers – should be incorporated as part of the table décor. They are usually unattractive.

Charger plate (a) – this is an oversized and ornamental plate set in place for each guest. It give an attractive and “whole” look to the table before the food is served. It will remain in the table throughout dinner (until the entree) and the food plate for each course will be placed on top of it.

Napkin – placed on top of the charger. If there is no charger, the napkin is placed in the empty place where the food course plate will go. You can have different fabrics, colors and folds. This is also a great place to insert your menu card.

China – it can be used as an added element of décor to your tablescape. You should choose a pattern that enhances the charger and accents your linens. Dining china is made up of three elements:

• Bread and butter plate (b)(k) – it is placed above the forks on the left side with the butter knife place diagonally on top of the place. The handle should be facing right and the blade faced down.

• Salad plate – smaller than your dinner place and when served is placed on top of the charger

• Dinner plate – the entrée is served on it and it is takes the place of the charger

Flatware – can be used as another decorative element. No rules apply to selecting flatware other than making sure you have appropriate flatware for your menu.
• Dinner fork (c) – largest fork and is placed to the left edge of the charge

• Salad fork (e) – placed to the left of the dinner fork.

• Fish fork (d) – placed farthest to the left of the dinner fork (it is the first fork used). Only set if fish is to be served.

• Dinner knife (f) – placed to the right edge of the charger plate

• Fish knife (g) – placed to the right of the dinner knife. Again, it should only be set if you are serving fish.

• Salad knife – placed to the right of the fish knife.

• Soup spoon (i) – placed to the right of the knives

• Oyster/Cocktail fork (j) – set to the right of the spoon; only place if shellfish is being served. It is the only fork that is placed to the right.

Dessert spoons and forks are brought out with the dessert.

Glassware (l)
Glassware is placed to the upper right of the dinner place and there can be up to 5 glasses depending on your beverage choices. You can select from a wide variety but make sure it accents your place setting.

• Water Goblet – placed directly above the knives

• Champagne Flute – placed to the right of the water goblet

• Wine Glasses – slightly below and to the right of the water goblet

• Sherry Glass – placed to the right of the red and white wine glasses

**Picture from Emily Post**