How to Set a Table Like an Event Pro

by Event Source | Blog, Education


Does the fork go on the left or the right side of the dinner plate?  How many can sit at a 60" round table if I'm using charger plates?  What size linen will fit floor length on an 8'x30" banquet table?  Whether you are a first time event planner or a seasoned pro, check out this helpful How To video for setting a round table for eight!


How to Set a 60" Round Table for 8 People




Step 1 - Add a Linen and a Centerpiece


Formal events, such as weddings, galas, banquets, and upscale dinners, often require a higher level of decorum. Floor-length linens are seen as a way to enhance the visual appeal and create an atmosphere of grandeur suitable for these occasions.  Here is a quick list of the most used table sizes and what linens will fit to the floor:


  • 120" round linen will fit floor length on a 60" round table
  • 132" round linen will fit floor length on a 72" round table
  • 90" x 132" rectangle linen will fit floor length on a 6' x 30" banquet table
  • 90" x 156" rectangle linen will fit floor length on an 8' x 30" banquet table

Floor-length linens cover the table legs and any potential imperfections, providing a seamless and polished appearance. This coverage contributes to the overall aesthetic and maintains a clean, cohesive look.


Step 2 - Add Napkins One at a Time on Opposite Ends of the Round Table


When you're setting a round table and simply go in a circle you can wind up with unequal spacing which can cause unnessecary crowding between seats.  The best practice is to use the napkin as a grouding point and place them one at a time opposite of each other.  In doing so you will evenly splice up the round table like you would a pizza pie, with no one complaining that their piece is smaller than the rest.  If you put this tip into practice it will save you time and even more so for the banquet manager who needs to set a room for 500 guests in only 2 hours!


Step 3 - Add Dinnerware


A charger plate, also known as a service plate or underplate, is a large, decorative plate that is typically placed at each guest's setting before the meal begins in a formal dining setting or event. Charger plates are not meant to be used for serving food but rather serve as an elegant base for the other dinnerware. They are usually larger than the dinner plate and are often more ornate, adding a touch of sophistication and style to the table. The purpose of a charger plate is to enhance the overall visual appeal of the table setting, providing a decorative foundation that complements the theme or color scheme of the event.


Once the meal begins, the charger plate is often removed before the main course is served, leaving the remaining dinnerware in place for the subsequent courses. Charger plates are commonly used in upscale events, weddings, banquets, and formal dining occasions to elevate the aesthetics of the table setting.




Step 4 - Add Flatware and Glassware


At a formal dinner place setting, glassware is always placed to the upper right of the dinner plate.  Flatware is arranged in a specific order, following a traditional placement etiquette. Here's the customary order from the outside in, going left to right:


  • The fork for the first course (usually a salad fork) is placed farthest to the left.
  • The dinner fork is placed next to the salad fork, closer to the plate.
  • The knife is placed to the right of the plate, with the blade facing in towards the plate.
  • The spoon for the first course (usually a soup spoon) is placed to the right of the knife.

If there's a dessert spoon and fork, they are placed horizontally above the plate, with the spoon on top and the fork below.  It's important to note that this is a general guideline, and specific variations may occur depending on the meal being served and regional or cultural differences. The idea is to work from the outside in, with flatware for each course placed in the order it will be used.


Step 5 - End With Placing Your Chairs


The main idea behind placing the chairs last is for ease of movement while setting the smaller tabletop items.  Chairs can be bulky to work around especially when you're setting a room for more than 50 people.  By having the table all dressed in advance, the chair delivery crew can methodically follow behind the rest of the banquet set up team without having to waste precious time and ask "How many chairs to do you need at this table over here?"




BONUS CONTENT - How Not to Set a Table!




What is the next event that you will utilize these new table setting skills at?


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