How to Set a Table: Formal & Semi-Formal

Will you be serving a sit-down meal at your wedding reception? Wondering how exactly to set an informal table for your relaxed outdoor luncheon, or a formal table for your multi-course black tie dinner? With the help of Josh Gruetzmacher, Celeste Green, Studio Mondine, and Frances Lane, we’ve got you covered!

How to Set a Table | Snippet & Ink


Informal (Semi-Formal) Table Setting

An informal (semi-formal) setting includes: a dinner plate with a smaller salad plate placed over it, two forks on the left, a knife and spoon on the right, a wine glass and water glass above the knife and spoon (the majority of the population is right-handed, so glasses are placed on the right).

Tip #1:  To help you remember what utensils go where, picture the word “FORKS” and notice that F (for ‘forks’) is on the left while K and S (for ‘knife’ and ‘spoon’) are on the right.

Tip #2:  Always be sure to set your knife with the blade facing toward the plate.


How to Set a Table | Snippet & Ink


Formal Table Setting

When setting a formal table, you have quite a few more pieces to work with! You can have up to three of each implement at the table, and as many as five different glasses (water, white wine, red wine, champagne, sherry). Instead of placing the dinner plate directly on the table, a service plate (also known as a charger) is the base of each setting. A bread plate is set on the upper left side of the place setting. Formal settings can also include individual salt and pepper shakers or cellars.

Tip #3:  With any table setting, the placement of utensils is determined by the menu, starting with the outer utensil for the first course, and working your way in toward the plate.

Tip #4:  The napkins can be placed on top of the plate, under the charger so that it hangs over the edge of the table, or under the forks if space is tight.

Vendor Credits

Photography: Josh Gruetzmacher / Styling: Celeste Green / Floral Design: Studio Mondine / Rentals: Frances Lane

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