What Is the Correct Table Setting for Your Wedding?

How to correctly set your wedding reception tables

In case you hadn’t heard, I started in this industry working on weddings in restaurants and as an off-premise catering sales rep. Which means my pet peeves in the wedding industry often have to do with things on the food & beverage side of our lives. And a correct wedding table setting is at the top of my list.

Lately I’ve seen many incorrectly set tables, which just makes me sad. Couples don’t know that they should ask about this, but if they did, they would most certainly want their table to be set correctly. The table place setting should welcome your guests as they sit down at your wedding reception. It should be beautiful, but also functional. It should give cues to your guests as to what to expect for the rest of the night.

So I grabbed my partner in crime, Kurstin Roe, and headed out to the Something Vintage Vault to do a mini photo shoot with their gorgeous tabletop rentals to show you how your wedding dinner table should be set!


This is the correct wedding table setting for most weddings I see these days. On the outside, we have a salad fork and salad knife for your first course.  Often this is a salad but it could also be a pasta dish, which would still require a fork and knife. On the inside, we have the dinner knife and fork for your entree course.

There is no coffee teaspoon or dessert fork set here. Often the coffee is set up at a station, and the teaspoons would be on the station with the cups and saucers. Other times coffee is served table-side upon request, and the waitstaff will provide the teaspoons during that service.

The decision on the dessert fork is trickier. If you’re having a dessert buffet, it should be set up with forks – if your desserts require forks. (Donuts don’t require forks, just sayin’.)  Maybe the wedding cake will be sliced and served on a buffet, or passed by the waitstaff directly to your wedding guests as they mingle around the reception. Either way, the fork should be with the cake, and this would eliminate the need to land-lock the fork on the dinner table. Either way, there is no flatware above the plate.

Blue, gold and white wedding table setting Green, Gold and Wood Wedding Tablescape


Now we take the above wedding reception place setting and add a dessert fork. If you have a plated dessert planned for after your dinner, or plan to serve your wedding cake directly to every seat at the reception tables, we add the dessert fork above the dinner plate. I’ll be honest, I might have the fork tines pointed the wrong way here. I’m sure someone will tell me if I do.

Blue, gold and white wedding table settingGreen, Gold and Wood Wedding Tablescape


Maybe your wedding is in the late fall or winter and the first course of your wedding feast is a delightful soup, like butternut squash and apple bisque. Which, by the way, I am here for. Give me all the squash soups come late September. Or. Or! A killer summer tomato and watermelon gazpacho with some feta in the heat of our DC summers. Yes! Therefore, we want that wider, more circular soup spoon flanking the dinner knife.

Blue, gold and white wedding table setting

There you have it – the correct way to set for three common wedding reception place settings. Now you know what kind of flatware your caterer (or hotel) should be using at your wedding. I’ve also written short advice posts on glassware on your wedding table top and the use of glass charger plates at weddings. Happy eating!