8 Things to Remember When Eating at a Formal Dinner

On July 8, 2015

wedding reception table set up

It can be scary to know that you’re attending a fancy wedding soon. Are you worried that you might stick out like a sore thumb because you have no idea about the proper etiquette at a formal dinner?  Let me help you with some tips and tricks I’ve learned from being a wedding planner.

1. If you are overwhelmed with the amount of utensils at your place setting:

Remember to work your way from the outside in. If you have a spoon and fork above your plate, that is for desert.  If you are still completely lost, I’d suggest watching others.

2. Know which bread plate and water glass is yours!

Monica Caesar-WPIC instructor and wedding planner, said something that really stuck with me.  You can make a “b” and a “d” with your hands. Your left hand makes a “b”, reminding you that the plate on the left hand side is your bread plate. Your right hand makes a “d”, reminding you that the glass on the right hand side is your drink.

left handright hand


3. If you would like to use the butter:

Use the butter knife on the bread plate.  It is considered proper to break pieces off of the bread and butter that piece when you plan to eat it.

4. When eating soup:

Do not slurp, blow on, or drink from the bowl. To get the last bit of soup, simple tilt the bowl away from you and spoon out the rest.

5. Waiters and waitresses will usually serve your dish on your right side.

Make sure they have ample room to set the plate down. You also don’t want to get burned, as the plates are usually warm.


orange juice with orange slices on a wooden background


6. If you do not want any wine with your meal :

Do not turn over your glass or move it to a different location. Simply say “No, thank you” when the wait staff come around and ask. They will also most likely take your glass away to avoid any confusion through-out the night.

7. If you must leave the table before finishing your meal:

Fold your napkin neatly and place on the right hand side of your plate. Place utensils crossed on your plate to say “I am not finished yet”.  Men should also rise when women are leaving the table.

8. If you are finished with your plate:

Place your napkin neatly on the left hand side of your plate. Do not place your napkin on top of your plate; I cannot stress this enough! Place utensils together on your plate (straight up and down, or at 10 and 4 o’clock)…With the knife facing in and the fork up.



Hopefully after reading this, you are more confident! In the end though, don’t worry too much. I think just about everyone will be in your shoes. You can also subtly ask your wait staff for help if you really need it.


Contact Us for your FREE initial meeting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *