• Bloomer Zine

The Formal Table Setting

There is an art to setting a formal table; and we have broken it all down for you. 


  1. Lay an ironed tablecloth on the table.

  2. Set a service plate (also called a charger) at each seat.

  3. In the center of the service plate, place a soup bowl.

  4. Place the bread plate to the top left of the service plate (in terms of a clock face, between 10 and 11).

  5. On the left of the service plate, place the salad fork on the outside, the dinner fork on the inside, and the fish fork in the middle.

  6. Lay a napkin to the far left of the service plate and forks.

  7. On the right of the service plate, place the following from left to right: dinner knife (blade facing in towards the plate), fish knife, tea spoon, soup spoon and salad knife. Note: All vertical flatware (salad fork, dinner fork, knife, and soup spoon) should be spaced evenly, about one centimeter away from each other, and the bottoms of each utensil should be aligned with the bottom of the service plate.

  8. Place a butter knife horizontally, blade facing inwards on top of the bread plate with the handle pointing to the right. (Note: In all place settings the blade will always face inwards towards the plate.)

  9. Directly above the service plate, place a desert fork with the handle pointing to the left; above place a dessert spoon with the handle pointing to the right; and above the desert spoon place a desert knife with the handle pointing to the right.

  10. Directly above the soup spoon, place a water glass. To the right of the water glass and about two centimeters downward, place the red wine glass. The white wine glass goes to the right of—and about two centimeters downward—the red wine glass.

  11. The coffee/tea cup and saucer go below the white wine glass and to the right of the salad knife.

  12. If using a place card, set it above the dessert knife.

After the soup course is complete, the soup bowls are cleared, and the salad plate takes the soup bowl’s position.

Traditionally, the service plate  holds the location for the dinner plate, and is removed after the salad course and immediately before the main course is served. This ensures that the location is never bare.