Below is the table layout of a formal setting. There are simpler settings but it is probably better to understand the formal setting first. Once you understood the formal setting, you will not get confused with other simpler settings.
The table layout may look very scary and complicated. As long as you follow the guidelines below, you will not go wrong.
Here is how you can remember:
Bread on the left.
Meat in the middle
Water on the right
Use the utensils from the outside and slowly work your way in.
Dessert Setting: Formal VS Informal
Formal Setting The dessert knife is placed on the right side of the plate. The dessert fork is placed on the left side of the plate.
Informal Setting Both dessert knife and dessert fork are placed horizontally on 12 o'clock position of the plate. The dessert spoon is laid on top of the fork, with the handle facing right. The dessert fork is laid below the spoon, with the handle facing left.
How about the Glassware?
The layout of glassware are similar to dining utensils. Start from the outside, but this time it starts from the right. In accordance of order, here are how to use each glasses.
The sherry glass/ aperitif glass is located on the furthest right and is the smallest glass. Sherry is normally paired with the soup course.
White wine glass. Slightly larger than the sherry glass. White wine is normally paired with the fish course.
Red wine glass. Slightly larger than the white wine glass. Red wine is normally paired with red meat. The glass has a bigger bowl, which allows the wine to breath.
Water goblet. The largest glass on the table.
Champagne flute. The long thin glass that sits behind the water goblet. Champagne is only poured during dessert time.
Do I have to remember all these?
The answer is actually NO. During the meal, you will only be served one course at a time. And you just need to go with the flow. For instance, if you are served with Sherry. Just use the Sherry glass and leave other glasses alone.