Q: How do we properly set a table for a formal reception?

A: Everything should be arranged in the order you use it, from the outside in. Flanking the dinner plate and starting on the far left, it's salad, fish and dinner fork; on the far right, it's soupspoon, fish knife and dinner knife. (Set out fish and soup utensils only if you're serving those courses.) The dessert fork and spoon lie above the plates, horizontally (the spoon, with the bowl facing left, goes above the fork, whose tines face right); the place card goes above them. The bread-and-butter plate goes above the forks, with the butter knife resting horizontally across the plate, blade facing down. Glasses should be placed above the knives, with the water goblet to the left of the wineglasses. The napkin goes on top of the dinner plate or to the left of the forks. Glasses should be placed above the knives, with the water goblet to the left of the wineglasses.

See all questions about wedding receptions etiquette

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