Planning a wedding tends to bring up things you may not have thought about before but will need to make a decision on — things like table settings, for example. Think about it: When it's time to decide on the look of your reception table, you'll need to choose between tons of different china, flatware, glassware, and linen options in order to create the dinner table you've envisioned. And while your caterer may have suggestions and a preferred setup, it's important to have your own thoughts and opinions on the topic.
Of course, there are many different table-setting arrangements, with varying levels of formality. We're zooming in on the one above, though, because it works perfectly for a three-course dinner. It's the most common type of reception-meal format and traditionally includes a salad course, entree, and dessert (usually a slice of wedding cake).
Here's a quick breakdown:
—Everything should be arranged in the order you use it, from the outside in as you work toward the plate as the meal proceeds.
—Flanking the plates and starting on the far left, it's the salad fork and dinner fork; on the far right, it's the soup spoon and dinner knife, with the cutting edge facing inward.
—The dessert fork and coffee spoon lie above the plates, horizontally (the fork tines should face right and the bowl of the spoon should face left); if you're using place cards, they should be positioned above these utensils.
—The bread-and-butter plate goes above the forks, with the butter knife resting across the plate, blade facing down.
—Stemware should be placed above the soup spoon and dinner knife, with the water goblet to the left of the wine glass.
—If you're planning to serve coffee with dessert, the cup and saucer are placed directly above and to the right of the knife and spoon.
—Lastly, the napkin can be placed on top of the plate or to the left of the forks.