The Formalities of a Meal

There are several rules that govern the formalities of a meal. You should follow them with proper respect and etiquette. In this article, you will learn how to serve the meal, choose the place setting, and choose a specific centrepiece. You should also know the number of courses that are served. Lastly, the lady of honor should be appointed to serve the guests. If she is unable to attend the meal, she should appoint a replacement.


The structure of a meal is important to the way people interact. Dinners generally follow a three-part structure: the centrepiece, the staple and the trimmings. The structure of a meal can be simple or complex. It becomes more formal during different times of the week, while it remains the same throughout the year. For instance, Christmas dinners feature elaborate rituals, such as carving the turkey and eating plum pudding with brandy butter.

When dining with a formal group, the order of service is important to everyone’s enjoyment. In formal settings, the first person to be served is the lady of honor or the most important female guest. Other factors can determine the order of service, such as the size of the banquet. The following are some tips for proper service. Guests are often served in order of importance. Once the ladies have been seated, the host will begin the meal.

Place setting

There are several basic place setting formalities that all guests should be familiar with. Dinner forks and knives should be placed to the left and right of the dinner plate, with the salad fork and spoon placed to the right. For the dessert course, a small plate and fork are used. Place settings should always be appropriate for the meal type. There are other nuances that you should consider. Here are a few examples.

Each place setting must have a water glass, wine glass, and dessert spoon. Each place setting should have enough room between each item. Dessert utensils are placed between the dessert plate and the main course. Likewise, two spoons and knives are required for dessert. A place card, placed in front of each plate, should accompany each serving. The plates and glasses should be clear of unused utensils.

Number of courses

The number of courses at a formal dinner varies from region to region. Typically, a meal will have three or four courses – the appetizer, the main dish, and the dessert. More elaborate meals may contain as many as twelve courses. In Europe, the menu sequence is classical, indicating the order in which the different dishes are served. In America, the number of courses is usually six, but some families opt for ten or even twelve.

A full course dinner will include five, six, eight, or even 16 courses. Some formal dinners may even have twenty-one courses. Formal dinners tend to follow established menu planning conventions and include hors d’oeuvres as well as different beverages. Each course is carefully paired with the others, so you’ll want to learn about the various wine pairings. A full-course dinner will likely be a full meal, so it’s best to plan accordingly.


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Dessert utensils

The placement of the dessert utensils at a table depends on the type of meal. Soft or firm desserts should be placed in tall, narrow glasses. The spoon and fork should be placed horizontally on the dessert plate or in front of the dinner plate. A butter knife is also placed in a bowl on the table and the blade should be facing the diner. The table setting is set for right-handed diners.

The placement of the utensils is dictated by the menu. The first fork is on the outside of the menu, while the ones for subsequent courses are inside the menu. This is to make it easy to reach for the items in each course. The fork is a common exception to the rule of three per side. When using the dessert fork, the handle should face the right side of the plate for easy access.