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Wedding Etiquette :: Place Setting

Surprisingly, many people do not know how to properly set a table. Who would have thought?! I guess the age of Emily Post is sadly over, ugh! Now, we know you, yourself may not necessarily be placing your china and silverware out for your reception, at least we hope you’re not! BUT, you will be choosing every detail of where every glass, china, menu, and napkin are to be placed. You definitely do not want to misplace or improperly set your table for all of your dignified guests to see!

Here is the 101 run down on how to properly set your tables and some extra advice from the wonderful Emily Post, herself.

Okay, the very first step you will want to take when deciding your table setting is, choosing your menu…probably the hardest decision EVER, at least it would be for me! Why start with this step? Hmmm…I’ll take it straight from the mouth of Emily Post, “You should never have more china or silverware than what is needed.” With this being said, basically choose your menu first, and then you can properly decide exactly what & how many of each utensils and china should be set out for each guest.


Let’s move on to the rules of table settings, shall we? The one rule for a formal table is for everything to be geometrically spaced. The centerpiece at the exact center, the place settings at equal distances, and the utensils balanced equally. Beyond these placements, you can vary flower arrangements and decorations as you like.


Okay, so the chart above is basically the most formal setting you could possibly have, so if this is what you decide to go with, make sure you think about the size tables you decide to get. The smaller the table in this case, the less people you can sit at one because of how wide your table setting will be. Also, size plays a huge part. If you get a 16 inch round, you won’t be able to fit as much as you would with the same size of a rectangle table. But, if you choose a simple traditional setting, you could fit a few more people at a smaller table. This really decides on the size of your guest list.

Going back to the first tip, of picking out your menu first, the placement of utensils is guided by the menu, the idea being that you use utensils in the famous ‘outside-in’ order. The menu for the setting above is in the order of:

  • Appetizer: Shellfish
  • First Course: Soup or fruit
  • Fish Course
  • Entree
  • Salad

Let’s break the setting down Emily Post style. Ready for this?

(a) Service Plate: This large plate, also called a charger, serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course, which will be brought to the table. When the first course is cleared, the service plate remains until the plate holding the entree is served, at which point the two plates are exchanged. The charger may serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entree.

(b) Butter Plate: The small butter plate is placed above the forks at the left of the place setting.

(c) Dinner Fork: The largest of the forks, also called the place fork, is placed on the left of the plate. Other smaller forks for other courses are arranged to the left or right of the dinner fork, according to when they will be used.

(d) Fish Fork: If there is a fish course, this small fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork because it is the first fork used.

(e) Salad Fork: If the salad is served after the entree, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.

(f) Dinner Knife: The large dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.

(g) Fish Knife: The specially shaped fish knife goes to the right of the dinner knife.

(h) Salad Knife (Note: there is no salad knife in the illustration): If used, according to the above menu, it would be placed to the left of the dinner knife, next to the dinner plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the knives would be arranged (left to right): dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife.

(i) Soup Spoon or Fruit Spoon: If soup or fruit is served as a first course, then the accompanying spoon goes to the right of the knives.

(j) Oyster Fork: If shellfish are to be served, the oyster fork goes to the right of the spoons. Note: It is the only fork ever placed on the right of the plate.

(k) Butter Knife: The small spreader is paced diagonally on top of the butter plate, handle on the right and blade down.

(l) Glasses: These can number up to five and are placed so that the smaller ones are up front. The water goblet (la) is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right are placed a red (lc) or white (ld) wine glass. A sherry glass, or champagne flute, to accompany a first course or for an opening toast, go to the right of the wine glasses (le).

(m) Napkin: The napkin is placed on top of the charger (if one is used) or in the space for the plate. It can also go to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space is tight.


We hope you enjoyed this post about etiquette at your wedding! We would love to hear your feedback or any requests you have for blog ideas. Please send inquires to


Happy Thursday!

-Meta Lake

Bridesmaid Etiquette – Your Questions Answered!

You’ve been to weddings your whole life, you’ve celebrated the weddings of your own friends, and maybe now it’s time to start planning your own wedding—yet, through it all, there are always awkward etiquette questions surrounding the bridal party that remain unanswered.

Look no further; we have researched and compiled some common “bridesmaid etiquette” questions that you might have been scratching your head about…and we have answers. Cringe no more—the only thing you will have to worry about on your big day is looking drop-dead gorgeous and marrying the man of your dreams.

Photo from one of our featured StudioWed weddings—Amy Lynn Larwig provided hair and makeup, and the wedding took place at CJ’s Off the Square in Franklin, TN.

A photo from one of our featured StudioWed weddings—Amy Lynn Larwig provided hair and makeup, and the wedding took place at CJ’s Off the Square in Franklin, TN.

I just got engaged (Excuse me as I start crying again), and as I start planning my wedding, I know I need to choose my bridesmaids ASAP. Do I have to include someone in my wedding if I was in hers?

Remember, this is your big day, and you get to decide who participates. Therefore, if you were in someone else’s bridal party, that does not mean they have to be in yours as well. If you feel uncomfortable with the situation, try to include them in the wedding in a different role. In addition, while including your fiancé’s siblings is a nice gesture, you are not obligated to include them in your bridal party either.

Bridesmaid bouquets arranged by Brocade Designs, a StudioWed vendor.

Bridesmaid bouquets arranged by Brocade Designs, a StudioWed vendor.

What costs am I supposed to cover for the bridesmaids?

You are expected to cover the following:

  • Bridesmaid’s bouquets
  • Hotels for out-of-town attendants
  • Transportation for the bridal party to ceremony and reception
  • Thank you gift
  • Bridesmaids’ luncheon, tea, or party (if you are hosting one)
  • Hair and makeup (only if you want it done professionally)

Your bridesmaids should pay for the following:

  • Wedding attire and accessories. This includes the dress (which you will probably pick out), alterations to the dress, shoes and any other accessories.
  • Transportation to and from the wedding town or city
  • Gift for the couple (either individually or as a contribution to a group gift)
  • Share in the cost of a bridesmaids’ gift to the bride (optional)
  • Bachelorette party attendance cost (optional)

There are definitely sticky areas, such as hair and makeup and the lodging, but overall, budget and finances should be an open discussion between you and your bridal party. It’s a give-and-take relationship—your bridesmaids accept your invitation to be a bridesmaid with the understanding that there will be a financial obligation, but you should keep your bridesmaids in mind when selecting the dress and shoes. Furthermore, it’s okay to discreetly offer financial assistance to a bridesmaid you know might have trouble covering the costs.

Bridal Shower inspiration from StudioWed’s Pinterest.

Bridal shower inspiration from StudioWed’s Pinterest.

Okay, so my wedding date is approaching, and it’s about time to have a bridal shower (I guess?). Who should host it and how much say can I have in the shower?

Basically, hosting duties can fall to anyone in your bridal party, your mom, or the mother of the groom. Whoever does host it should consult you about a guest list, because if someone comes to the bridal shower they should definitely receive a wedding invitation as well.

Additionally, you should discuss the shower with whomever plans it, but try not to be bossy about it—especially regarding the budget. If you don’t want any games, let that be known, but don’t ask for anything that would add unnecessary costs.

You really can include all ages in your wedding. This wedding was planned by Stunning Events, a StudioWed vendor.

You really can include all ages in your wedding. This wedding was planned by Stunning Events, a StudioWed vendor.

Can you just explain the concept of a “junior bridesmaid” to me?

A junior bridesmaid is typically between the ages of 8-16—to young to be a bridesmaid but too old to be a flower girl. The only official responsibilities of a junior bridesmaid are to attend the ceremony rehearsal and participate in the processional; she does not have to attend showers or contribute to the cost of a group bridesmaids’ gift to the bride. Also, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to include her in the receiving line. As far as where to put her in entrance of the wedding party, you can put her before the maid/matron of honor.

This is a great way to include younger siblings, cousins, or nieces. They will appreciate your special efforts to include them on your special day.


Sources: Real Simple, the Bridal Guide, and The Huffington Post


Pinterest for Wedding Planning

Every girl has one: a wedding Pinterest board, a place where you can gather ideas for the day you say I do to the man of your dreams. Pinterest Wedding Boards help feed into the idea that girls dream about their wedding day throughout their entire life. I know my board is full of wedding dresses with lace sleeves, sunflower bouquets, and beautiful fall decorations. I joke and say pinterest has given me the ability to plan a wedding in just a few hours.

However, some people claim that Pinterest is not giving people the day of their dreams, but instead gives them the reincarnation of another couples’ reality. Some people say that by using ideas from other people’s weddings, you are robbing yourself of the chance for you and your future husband to make your own memories.

While some think Pinterest is taking the originality out of the wedding business, I personally disagree. We have all seen it on our Facebook feeds: brides asking their friends to be part of their bridal party using a ring pop. Is it over used?  Yes. But is it robbing them of memories? No. The memory is not giving your life long best friend a ring pop. The memory is the look on her face when she realizes that you want her to be a huge part of your special day. I personally hope my friends use this method, and I hope the ring pop is green apple flavored!


Photo source: Pinterest


Photo Source: Pinterest

Check out our StudioWed Nashville Pinterest for wedding planning ideas and inspiration!

StudioWed Nashville Inspiration Board: Centerpieces

One of the biggest decisions to make when planning your wedding is what theme to choose! I think one of the best ways to express your wedding theme is by the centerpieces you choose for your reception tables. You can make a bold statement with your centerpieces. Yes, traditionally most centerpieces include floral arrangements and candles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t step outside of the box!
There are so many themes to choose from such as rustic, chic, glamorous, etc. Your wedding day is all about you and your spouse, so it should express both of you! If you’re not into the whole flower ordeal, you could use lanterns, candle arrangements, pictures, lamps, etc. If you do like the more traditional route of floral arrangements, candles, and decor, you have so much to work with.
Your floral arrangement can express you, your wedding theme, and even the season. Check out this inspiration board with some centerpiece ideas.

Photo sources (clockwise from left top corner, center last)
Style Unveiled
Bridal Guide
Heart of Sedona
Things She Loves
Style Me Pretty
The Cinderella Project

Written by: Meta Lake
Meta attends high school in Wilson County and is interning at StudioWed this spring.