What’s going on?
I’m on Pinterest a lot! I’m always looking for inspiration for brides and for myself. I love a good table setting and Pinterest is FILLED with different ideas for centerpieces and cute ways to set the table for your event. Now a lot of these are not actual events but styled shoots. For those of you who have no clue what a styled shoot is lemme splain. Event planners and designers typically style for others. They very rarely get that opportunity to show what their style is or what they can do without limitations. So they partner with other vendors and create a mock event to show off a particular style that they want to showcase or just as a creative outlet to test some new ideas.
One thing that I’ve noticed time and time again, is these pictures are just gorgeous! The look, the feel, the mood. Flowers are just right. The decor is spot on. And then you look at the table setting and for some unknown reason, the spoon is on the inside of the knife. WHAT?! I”m not going to lie. When I first moved up here from Colorado and started to notice this I thought maybe there was some bizarre trend going around that would make Emily Post cringe. I started asking around. I had even interviewed dozens of planners at a yearly convention, and they all agreed with me! What is going on!?
Basic table setting 101
I’m not going to get too in-depth with table settings because, to be honest, I could write an entire book about the different types of settings and service. There are different rules depending on what part of the world you live in and there are different setups depending on what meal you are are serving and the formality of that meal. But regardless of all that, the one thing that is ALWAYS uniform is the order of the utensils. Now obviously there is buffet style where the flatware is wrapped, or put into a cute pocket made from the napkin. But we are talking about a basic table setting.
Here is a tip to remember the order of the flatware, glasses and butter plate. Just remember FORK. The letters spell out how the table is set. Again, although there are some slight variations, always remember the order from left to right
F – fork
O – the shape of the plate
K – knives
The blade of the knife ALWAYS faces in towards the plate. You can also think that the knife protects the spoon from the fork. When you go to use the flatware, you are always working from the outside in. So you will use the flatware furthers away from the plate first. One other thing to note. You only put out the utensils that you will be using for the meal. Meaning, if you are not having soup at the meal, don’t put out a soup spoon!
A few other things to keep in mind. A setting should never have more than 3 pieces of flatware on each side of the plate. The only exception is if you are using an oyster fork, then you can have 4 on that side, or are doing a European setting. Another part of the table setting people have a hard time remembering is, which sides the butter plate and glasses go? An easy way to remember is to make an “okay” sign with both hands. Touch your index finger and your thumb on both hands, and point the other 3 fingers up. When you put the “O’s” together the left hand creates a lower case “b” and the right hand creates a lower case “d”. The “b” stands for bread or butter (left side of the plate, above the forks). The “d” stands for drinks (right side of the plate above the knives and spoons).
But I’m being “Creative”
No, you really aren’t. You are showing people that, although you have a wonderful sense of style, you just don’t know the basics of setting a table.
And in the event industry…that’s kind of a big deal. You can be as creative as you want. As long as that spoon is to the right of the knife and the forks are on the left. As stated, there are so many variations of table settings depending on the formality and meal and locale. But the one constant is the placement of the forks, knives, and spoons. I don’t care how beautiful your centerpieces are, and how stunning your stemware is. If the table is set incorrectly people will judge you!
Disagree? Have another thought on the topic? Do share!
**article originally published in NJ Eats Magazine April 2017