Tips to Setting a Formal Wedding Reception Table

Your wedding table is one of the primary focal points at your reception. You will need to arrange it so that it is functional, but also beautiful. The wedding table is going to be featured in many photos, and you want it to look good by itself, but also create a stunning and romantic visual when you take in the entire room. Here’s how to set your wedding reception tables to enhance the mood and make your guests comfortable.

Formal wedding table setting

If you place a small bread plate on top of the charger, make sure there is enough room to move it once the guests are seated.

Setting the wedding table

Many elements go into an adequately set wedding table; however, you don’t want to add so many decorative and functional features to the table that they seem too busy or too crowded. Although you can decorate your wedding table any way you like, there are a few rules for setting a table that you need to follow. When you set a formal table, work from the outside in, that way you ensure that your guests have enough room to sit comfortably and eat.

Charger Plates

When you have a formal sit down wedding reception where every course is served, a traditional way to set the table is to use charger plates. A charger plate is an oversized plate that is pre-set at a formal table to indicate a place setting, yet no food will be eaten off this plate. As each new course is served, that plate will be placed on top of the charger plate.

Napkins and Silverware

You can decorate the charger plate with a napkin and a name card or another decorative element, but we recommend that you keep it as simple as possible. Remember, your guests are going to have to sit to eat. So don’t pile on too many decorations that will have to be removed.

Silverware depends on what type of food you are serving and in what order. The silverware should be placed so that your guests are working from the outside inward. That way, it doesn’t matter if your guests know the difference between a salad or a dessert fork. Make it easy for your guests and make it a natural progression with each new course.

Silverware for formal wedding

Place silverware so that guests are working from the outside in.


Make sure that your guests have the right glasses for each beverage, and place the glasses in the same constellation at each table setting. The more uniform you can make each table, the more impressive the overall vision will be when you look at the room as a whole.


Once you have the table setting, it’s time to decorate the center of the table. Make sure that you don’t overwhelm the table with too many decorations. You also want to make sure that the centerpieces aren’t obstructing the view from other guests, or from any speeches that are set to take place.

Talk to our wedding experts about setting up a few different styles of wedding table settings so you can choose the style that is best for you.


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