Uh oh. You just read it…those two daunting, often terrifying words: “Meal Etiquette”. Don’t worry, the team here at Hitch Studio has got you covered for your rehearsal dinner, reception dinner, engagement party, and all the fancy meals coming your way!
Dinner etiquette doesn’t have to be everyone’s worst nightmare — in fact, it can be just as fun as sitting there eating that pepperoni pizza straight from the box while binge watching Netflix. Well, almost as fun. Whether you’re the dazzling bride-to-be, bridesmaid, parents of the groom, or an eager guest – these wedding meal etiquette tips will put your mind at ease and help you be poised and knowledgable at the dinner table. Let’s take this one step at a time, from napkins to forks and everything in between.
BEFORE THE MEAL:
Obviously if you’re the bride you’re the best dressed anyway. No need to worry about this step!
Grab that wedding invite hanging on your fridge and look up the venue to gage the level of fancy you should deck yourself out in.
Tip: Overdressing is always better than underdressing.
Tip: For most fancy dinner occasions, you’ll be wearing a dress. When entering a vehicle, first sit down, then swing your legs in. It’s classy.
Ring Ring! – Not the Diamond Kind
No one wants to be that person who’s phone goes off during the speeches or ceremony.
Tip: Silence your phone completely – vibration mode is just as distracting as the ring tone.
Be Time Sensitive
Perhaps you’re traveling from out of town — it is always a good idea to be proactive: check out traffic, detours, or anything else that may delay your fun.
Tip: Early is on-time and on-time is late.
Once you have found your place – shake hands of those guests around you and try to remember names.
Tip: You never know where you might meet your future spouse, employer, or new friends!
Storing Your Belongings
Trust me – as a woman who always has a purse that looks like a bowling bag, I can appreciate that awkward moment of not knowing where to put your handbag.
Don’t store anything on the table. Place your purse under your chair on the right side — and don’t hang it from the back of the chair.
Tip: If your purse has a long strap – wrap it around the outside of the purse so nobody trips.
Gently place your napkin in your lap.
How To: Avoid the overly-dramatic shaking out of the napkin and tastefully open the end of the napkin fold facing away from you.
If you need to get up from the table and will be returning, place your napkin in your chair so the server is aware you will be back.
Where should you put your napkin when you’re done eating? On your plate? On the table next to your plate? Well, you’re supposed to place your napkin on top of your plate to signal you’ve finished eating, not on your chair.
Tip: This isn’t a food eating contest – NEVER tuck your napkin into the front of your shirt.
Other Do’s and Dont’s
Do sit up straight.
Don’t put your elbows on the table.
Don’t put your phone on the table — or check it constantly.
Do pour a glass of red wine 1/3 full for your guests.
Do pour a glass of white wine 1/2 full for your guests.
Do hold a glass of white wine by the stem and a glass of red wine by the bowl of the glass.
Don’t cough into your hands. You’ll be shaking hands with other people.
Do approach your chair from the left-hand side and exit from the right-hand side to avoid a collision at the dinner table.
Don’t point across the room. If you must point, use an open hand to gesture.
PLACE SETTING 101:
Everything Is Placed In Order of Their Use
Just start on the outside and work your way in — you got this!
Forks will be on your left and knives and spoons will be on your right. The knife blade will always face the plate.
If there is an extra set of forks and knives, that means you are probably having seafood for dinner. Those are fish forks!
If there are extra spoons, they are probably for the coffee and dessert. They will be placed horizontally above your dinner plate.
Tip: Not sure if you’re doing it right? Conversation starter!
Check Your Peripheral
Look to your left – solids will be here! Oh look – a yummy bread roll!
Look to your right – liquids will be here! Ahh, I spy my water goblet, wine glass, and coffee cup.
Tip: Is this for water? Your water glass will always be to the left of your wine glass. Wine glasses typically have a longer stem on the glass.
What the Fork?
Not sure if you’re using all your forks correctly?
Your salad fork will always be on the inside of your main dish fork, closest to the dinner plate – and is smaller than your main dish fork.
Your forks are always on your left – but what if I see a small fork on the outside right?
Tip: If you ever see something like this – it is an oyster fork!
HOW TO EAT:
Help Others With Their Water First
If your table is sharing the same water pitcher, be the person to pour other’s water first!
Tip: This is an extremely polite gesture and will be remembered.
Smooth As Butter – Dinner Roll Basics
If you want a piece of your dinner roll, never use a knife to saw it in half. Instead, tear off a bite-sized piece with your fingers and butter each piece individually.
Can someone please pass the butter? It’s polite to only take butter from the dish once, so make sure to take an adequate amount of butter with your butter knife the first time.
Tip: Where does this butter go? Place the dab of butter on the side of your plate.
NEVER Hold Your Utensils in a Fist
It is always impolite to hold your utensils in a fist.
Left hand = fork, and right hand = knife –> Use your fork to secure the food from moving while cutting the food with the knife in your right hand. Simple as that!
Okay, I cut a piece off – now what?
Place your knife down on the edge of your plate with the blade at 12 o’clock and the handle at 3 o’clock.
Swap your fork from your left to right hand while turning the tines of the fork upward – and just like magic you can take a bite of food.
Tip: As soon as you begin eating, your utensils should never touch the table again. Don’t worry, we got you covered on this next one!
Tip: It is a universal rule to only cut food one piece at a time.
What if my utensils need a break?
If you need to get up and use the restroom or simply put your utensils down without indicating you’re finished, there is a resting position for your utensils. Simply place your knife on the edge of the plate around 1 o’clock with the blade inward.
Your fork should be placed with the tines upward around 4 o’clock while tilted to the left just a bit.
Shake it Like a Salt Shaker
Regardless of how much we enjoying our good friend, salt, it is polite to taste your food before garnishing with salt. Also, think of salt and pepper as a couple who shouldn’t be separated. Even if someone only asks you to pass the salt, always pass both the salt and pepper as a pair.
Tip: Always pass to the right.
Calm and Steady Wins the Race
It is a good idea to gage the pace at which others are eating. How does it compare to you?
If you’re way ahead or behind everyone else, slow down or speed up.
Tip: Maybe you’re talking too little or too much. I get it — I’m a social butterfly too!
I’m Finished and So are My Utensils
If you’re finished eating and ready to break out those dance moves, then indicate it to your server!
Once finished eating, place your fork, with the tines upward, directly next to your knife on your plate with the handles at about 4 o’clock.
Tip: Your fork should be on the inside of your knife when doing so! Alright – let’s bust a move!
Other Do’s and Dont’s
Do thank your hosts for the wonderful meal and evening.
Do at least try the food. Even if you’re a picky eater, take a deep breath, and sample the meal. You don’t have to finish every last bite. Fill up on water and dessert.
Don’t overreact if you spill something. Simply apologize and ask for more napkins.
Don’t blow on hot food to cool it down. Turns out, it’s rude and you’re supposed to let it cool down on its own.
Do use a knife to cut your salad.
Congratulations! You survived! By now you’re feeling confident and ready to tackle the mystery that is wedding meal etiquette. Remember not to feel stressed. You’re sure to impress and contribute to the magical Happily Ever After that is a wedding day!
And in case you’d like a video demonstration, here you go!