BLOG / Simple table setting rules for casual and formal events
- 15th Feb 2021
Linen hire Melbourne

Simple table setting rules for casual and formal events

By now, we’re sure you understand just how much the Table Art team loves sitting down to a beautifully styled table.

From the table linen (of course!) to the crockery, glassware, and candles, every element ties together perfectly to complement your theme and create a polished, cohesive, and beautiful look. 

Beyond decor, the way your plates, glasses, and cutlery are positioned should match the style of your event (as well as how formal it is).

In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at some of the most common table settings, and how you can mimic them to achieve a sophisticated setting for your next event.

What are the different types of table set ups?

In the past, setting a table usually followed a single rule-book, and it wouldn’t really matter if your skills never developed beyond setting down the cutlery as a kid. 

But as times have changed, we’ve seen the spectrum grow considerably, as more casual and formal settings emerge.

Now, there are so many ways an event can be planned, as party planners tailor each facet of their overall theme, tying in colour scheme, decor, and the overall ‘feel’.

If your table setting skills never progressed further than setting down the knives and forks for family dinners (“blade in!”), there’s no need to worry!

We’ve got you covered, sharing how each type of table setting differs, and how you can easily adopt any theme to your upcoming event.

Correct table setting rules

Standard table setting

As you can tell by its name, a standard setting is just that: all the tools you need to enjoy your one course meal – without the confusion that sometimes comes along with all those extra forks!

A basic table setting is ideal for breakfast, lunch, or casual dinner. It includes a main plate, knife and fork, napkin,and only one glass. 

But SURELY we want more than one course…this is when we look at the menu and allocate the correct cutlery for that meal. A course of soup requires a soup spoon & bowl. Some pasta dishes require spoon & fork, others, a knife & fork. Its worth setting the table correctly from the beginning to save the confusion at meal time! 

The most important rule is start from the outside cutlery and move back in towards the plate. Here are some helpful setup graphics to assist in setting the table correctly. 

Share platter dining

One style of dining that’s grown considerably is share platter dining. 

This style is when food is served on platters down the middle of the table. The intention is sharing, where each guest can pile their plate up with their preferred food.

As you might have guessed, this can have an impact on your table setting…

How do you style a beautiful shared platter table?

Shared plate style dining is not only increasingly popular, but also perfectly achieves that warm, family-style celebration many people are looking to convey.

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To ensure there is enough room for your platters, plates, glasses etc, we recommend using a table of 90cm-150cm wide; ideally a 1.2m wide table. 

When decorating your table, ensure you leave enough room on the table for your platters. We always recommend decorating with a small floral arrangement surrounded by enclosed candlelight in the middle of every 2.4m length of table. This leaves enough room for decoration and food. 

Another option for styling a share platter style table is trailing foliage whereby the platters can sit on top of the foliage. This fills the table with decoration but also allows for the practicality of the platters. 

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You might need to look at more creative ways to style, taking props off the table and instead considering beautiful decorations like overhanging flower installations & lighting features. 

What other table decor do you need?

Place cards or menus

Standard practice tells us that place cards sit above the main plate, while menus can sit on the plate or to the left of the plate, or on top of the napkin.

However this rule isn’t set in stone, so feel free to get more creative. Here are some gorgeous examples of how stationery can transform your setting. 


Every table needs some decor!

Whether you want to adorn your dining space with beautiful flowers, candles, or other elaborate props, remember that, particularly for share plate style dining, space may be at a premium.

You might have to think carefully about how decorations and food platters will fit together down the middle of your table, or, like we said above, take your decorations to new heights (literally!)

Explore our event centrepieces for hire.

Linen hire

Table linen

No table setting is quite complete without the perfect base – luxury table linen sets the tone for not only your table setting, but your entire event, too.

Organising an event for dozens or even hundreds of people? Wondering where on earth you can buy quality table linen – without breaking the bank? There’s no need!

Linen hire is a much more cost-effective way to get the polished, stylish look you’re after, at a fraction of the cost – and without the hassle of cleaning, pressing, and storing dozens of linens!

In addition to being more affordable, it also opens you to a world of quality linens – none of that cheap polyester you’d find at your local retail store.


Nope, not something that provides your devices with power!

In the dining room, a charger plate acts as a ‘catch all’ of sorts, collecting any bits of fallen food.

This prop sits at the bottom of your plate setting, and is usually not eaten off. They are often for decorative purposes, while all other crockery (like a salad plate or soup bowl) will be presented on top of this plate.

Charger plates can be used anytime, but are usually reserved for more formal settings. 

Explore linen hire with Table Art

If you’re interested in linen hire, and are looking to rent tablecloths online, look no further than the Table Art team. 

Our table stylists work with event and wedding planners all over Australia to ensure that every guest is wowed when they sit down to a gorgeous table setting. 

From tablecloths in Melbourne to linen napkins in Sydney, we’ve got you covered – and we take care of everything.

Contact us today by calling (03) 9813 2851 or getting in touch online.


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