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"ABC" in Etiquette - Part 1 - Using Your Place Setting As A Dining Map

Last week A Beautiful Memory's owner, Kathy Vaughan, taught an etiquette course to the Association of Bridal Consultants, "ABC". Kathy is a graduate of the renowned Protocol School of Washington, which is recognized worldwide as the best in the industry at training protocol and etiquette. Since a number of brides over the years have asked Kathy about the guidelines of etiquette, we thought we would share them with you too.

Over the next several weeks Kathy will be sharing some of the keys to mastering etiquette at every dining occasion. Fortunately the guidelines are straight forward and with a little practice can become second nature in no time.

This week - Using Your Place Setting As A Dining Map

When you get seated at a table, study the place setting. It can be viewed as a map to guide you through the meal. With a little practice you can determine the number of courses that will be served by assessing the silverware at your place setting. It’s different in upscale restaurants where they may replace the necessary silverware before each course and not have it pre set.

Look at your plate as the hub -

Knives and spoons are always on the right. The blade or the cutting edge of the knife faces in towards the plate. Forks are on the left.

Silverware is always used from the outside in.

When the salad fork and salad knife are next to the plate it means the salad will be served after the entrée and before dessert. Serving the salads before the entrées originated in California to pacify hungry diners with something besides bread to eat. This style of service was then copied across the country to where we now think this is the correct order to serve the salad.

A fork and spoon that are placed above the dinner plate are for dessert. Alternatively, they may be brought out with the dessert. If the fork and spoon are above the plate then after the entrees have been cleared you transfer them down to the sides of where the dinner plate was - fork on the left and spoon on the right. This is easy to remember as the handle of the dessert fork will be facing the left and the handle of the dessert spoon will be facing the right.


The glasses are placed above the spoons and knives in order of their use.

With a formal dinner with different wines and champagne served with each course the glass is removed with the course it accompanied.

The order is water, red wine, white wine, sherry (a glass we rarely would see used) with the champagne glass in the back. At many weddings there will only be one universal wine glass, which is used for red or white wine.

Bread & Salad Plates

Bread and salad plates are on the left of the dinner plate, above or to the side of the forks.

(In above photo - glasses are water, red wine, and white wine)

Navigating your way around a table isn't that hard, when you remember to use your place setting as a dining map.

Kathy will be discussing more etiquette tips with us in the weeks to come.

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