The Four Types of Table Settings and Which One Fits Your Event


So you've got your event planned, you have your invites sent out, and you might even have your main course chosen, and now the moment of truth is coming:

How do you set up for this event?!

There are a thousand tutorials for setting up a formal meal out there, but does that really fit your theme? You can't pull out dessert forks, fish forks, and dinner forks for a barbeque! So how DO you choose which Table Setting to go with?


There are four basic types of table settings: Formal, Basic, Informal, and Buffet.


Generally when I am deciding, I focus on four things:

1. The formality of the event

2. How many guests will be present

3. The venue

4. The food itself


We'll call these factors the Four for Four. Say that four times fast! 



For Formal events, you're usually going to go with the Formal set up. Why usually? You may not have fish, salad, soups, AND dessert lined up, so you may need to take it down a notch to a setting with a little less silverware. 

And I know it sounds kind of crazy, but for formal events with fewer courses, it's totally okay to go with the informal setup. I promise it's not a mortal sin to do this! 

Buffets CAN be formal, but the great thing about buffet setups is there's never any doubt about it. If it's a buffet, then it's a buffet setup. No ifs, ands, or buts! 



As for the number of guests, this is usually another simpler choice. Large events can still be top notch fancy and they can also be super casual. The limiting factor is simply a matter of whether or not you have enough dinnerware FOR a full setup or something a little more basic. 

Aside from that, the number of guests really shouldn't affect your setup plans! 



The venue is always helpful to think through because it can make your decision really easy! 

The room itself could be screaming Get-your-prada-on! If so, that's an obvious signal for formal setup. It could be an outdoor picnic area, in which case, you can step it down to basic setup. If it doesn't give you any clear indicators, chances are it's not going help or hurt your event too much. 



And lastly, the FOOD! Maybe you're a food-based planner, or maybe you wait till you have your theme and guest list ready to plan the meal. Either way, your setup will always rely on what you're serving. 

Naturally, any hostess would try to think what utensils will be used, but sometimes it's easy to overlook which setup best reflects your choice in tableware. You might think you can get by with a basic setup until you realize you have an extra appetizer and dessert. You can always upgrade or scale things down as needed! 

Hostessing is a juggling act, but in the end, the effort that you put into your event will make all the difference. And hey! Even if you do leave something out, it's the people and smiles that will matter more than the butter knives and fish forks! 


Happy hostessing! 


    XOXO - Darbie


Darbie Angell

Leave a comment