Different Styles of Table Setting
Table setting style is the focus of any party where food is served. Tableware and setting plan depends on the event or occasion and it can be as important as the food you serve. The first step to do in putting together a beautiful and well-planned meal is to understand the different styles of table settings.
Formal Table Setting
This is the table setting for festive family dinners, holiday celebrations, weddings and semi-formal events. A variety of specialty pieces are used depending on the formality of the occasion or event and meal plan.
Formal table setting includes dinner plate and fork; salad plate and fork; knife; bread and butter plate; butter knife; spoon; water and wine stemware; and linens.
- To the left of dinner plate (outside in): individual salad fork (when salad is served before the main course), and dinner fork.
- Above salad fork and dinner fork is bread and butter plate and butter knife.
- A salad plate is not set. If salad is served before the main course, the salad plate is placed on top of the service plate.
- At the center: service plate, with napkin or soup bowl at the center. Appetizer or other first course is placed on top of the service plate.
- When it is time for the main course, the used appetizer, soup or salad plate is removed along with the service plate. The entrée is immediately served on the dinner plate.
- To the right of dinner plate (outside in): soup spoon (if serving an appetizer in lieu of soup, place cocktail or oyster fork to the right of knife), place or dinner knife.
- Dinner spoons and forks may be placed horizontally above the place setting, with spoon facing right and fork facing to the left, or may be brought in on the dessert plates.
- To the right above knife (from left to right forming triangle): water goblet, (white) wine glass, and champagne flute.
- Cup and saucer with teaspoon may also be brought in with dessert, or served separately.
Casual Table Setting
This table setting is designed for everyday use and is suitable for any meal.
Casual table setting includes dinner plate and fork; salad plate and fork; knife; spoon; water and wine glasses; and linens.
- To the left of the dinner plate: napkin, salad fork, place fork. Napkin can also be placed on top of the plate.
- At center: Dinner plate with salad plate or appetizer - if one is to be served - should already be in placed.
- Set bread and butter plate to the upper left of a dinner plate. Lay butler spreader horizontally across bread and butter plate with handle to the right.
- To the right of dinner plate (outside in): teaspoon (can be placed on the table or brought in later with dessert), dinner knife.
- To the top of dinner knife and teaspoon: water goblet and wine goblet may be placed.
Buffet Table Setting
This table setting is based on your needs and space limitations. Food are arranged down the table in succession. Using your creativity, you can work with what's best for the situation.
A buffet table setting includes flatware, multiple dinner plates, stemware, and linens (number of settings will depend on number of guests expected).
- Buffet table style is the easiest to serve a large number of guests.
- The food being served and the logical sequence of serving yourself usually determine the layout of the buffet table.
- Dinner plates should come first followed by entrée and serving pieces.
- Napkins should be large enough for placement on guest's laps and, along with flatware, should come last so that they need not be carried the entire length of the table. It is also helpful to guests to have flatware wrapped in napkin or tissue.
- Leave enough room between serving bowls so that guests can rest their plates as they move through the line.
- Set up a side table for coffee, tea, and other beverages.
- Dessert can also be set at a side table or the main buffet can be cleared and reset for the dessert.
The type of table setting as well as the food being served can make a meal a success. However, proper table etiquette will set the mood for a comfortable and enjoyable meal experience.