Simple Table Manners for the Wedding Guest


Going to a formal dinner event can be intimidating for most guests.  “How do I know which fork to use?” “Where do I place my napkin when I leave my table?”

While a lesson on etiquette can take days, and would require a more qualified instructor, here are a few tips on simple table manners to get you through a formal wedding without any embarrassment.

When can I begin eating?

It is considered polite to wait until all guests at your table are served to start eating.  Sometimes a good guide is when the host or hostess picks up their fork and begins eating.

Which utensils do I use?

Start from the outside and work your way in.  For the salad course, you’ll use the smaller fork (“salad fork”) on the outside. Dessert utensils are sometimes set horizonally above the place setting.

How do I know which glass is mine?

Your beverages are on the right side above your spoon. Your bread and butter plate are on your left side. A good guide may be viewed here.

Which plate should I eat my bread off of?
Not the charger! Charger plates – also known as base plates – are designed to complete the look of the table. It is purely for aesthetics and food should never directly touch the chargers.  On more than one occasion, I’ve seen guests eating bread off of the charger plates.  There is usually a  B & B “bread and butter” plate at each place setting for this purpose.

When should I excuse myself?
When you need to reapply your lipstick or when you need to sneeze.

This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Never should I have to eat a salad while a fellow guest at my table is blowing their nose. It is appropriate to excuse yourself from the table so that you may blow your nose in a restroom. Please only return to your table after you have WASHED your hands.

Remember what mama said:

  • Say your pleases and thank yous
  • Keep elbows off the table
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full

Happy eating!


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