Setting a formal table is more than just knowing where the salad fork goes. It's paying attention to the small details that add up to a gracious experience. Watch how designer Rebecca Cole sets an elegant table.
Formal table setting - How to set a table
Here are table setting tips for putting an elegant table arrangement together:
Candles add the ambiance:
* A taper candle is a good choice for a formal table. Tall candlesticks like those made by Michael Aram are very nice. They come in different heights--mix and match the heights of both the candles and the candlesticks for a great look.
* Cut off a bit of malleable candle beeswax and push into the base of the candlestick before adding the candle. The wax will keep the candle tight in place.
Arranging the place settings:
* For a formal table setting, each seated placement should be identical. From the placement of the plates to the fold of the napkin, everything is aligned the same way.
* The napkin always goes on the left side unless you put it on the plate or in some other way. The fold of the napkin will go on the outside so the edges go in. And also the edge goes at the bottom whereas the fold goes at the top.
* Each guest should have at least three different glassware. Typically there would be a wine glass placed above the knife, a champagne glass a little right of the spoon, and a water glass to the right of the champagne glass, slightly above. The three form a little triangle.
Arranging the silverware:
* Every course should have its own silver piece: teaspoons, dessert forks, salad forks, dinner forks, et cetera.
* All silverware should be on the table when you sit down -- don't bring out dessert forks later when you serve dessert. All silver should be in its appropriate order of courses. This ensures that a guest doesn't end up eating dessert with the dinner fork they just used.
* When arranging a formal setting, place the salad fork on the far left of the plate and work your way towards the plate. Next to the salad fork will be the dinner fork.
* On the right side of the plate is the knife; make sure the edge faces inwards. The soup spoon is just outside of the knife. Any other spoons will be to the right of the soup spoon. You might put the dessert spoon above the plate, however, so it's out of the way.