Table Styling 101: Charger Plates
If you follow me over on Instagram, a few weeks ago you may have seen me ask my followers what sort of thing they would like to know about styling their tables. After all, your guests will be sat at their tables usually for a few hours and we all know that 'first look' gasp when entering a reception area is down to the decoration of the space.
As such I have broken it down into different elements and this blog post is all about charger plates because it seemed to be the biggest request, and one that seemed to have the most of you baffled!
So let's start...
What is a charger plate?
A charger plate is a large decorative base that your dinnerware is then set on top of during formal occasions. They might also be known as service plates or under plates and are merely decorative. They provide an elegant way to serve multiple course meals, where each course is in a separate bowl or plate and then placed upon the charger plate.
Charger plates can catch pieces of food and prevent spills and messes that would otherwise stain the tablecloth or flow onto the table. Chargers also help to retain the heat in dinnerware since they are placed directly underneath plates and bowls.
What are charger plates made of?
Charger plates come in different materials from acrylic to glass, plastic to rattan, this is a great way to add a little personality to your table.
When do you use a charger plate?
Charger plates are laid down at the beginning of the meal before the guests arrive and typically stay for some or all of the courses before the main entrée is served. Once the entrée is served, the charger is taken off the table and replaced with the main dining plate. Etiquette dictates that dessert should never be served on a charger - however, it's your wedding so do as you please!
Should everyone use charger plates?
Charger plates are wonderful and they can really finish off a table, however there are times that you might choose not to invest in them. They might not always be suitable and that can come down to the size of your table and space for your guests. Let's say you have 90 guests and space for only 9 round tables. With 10 guests to a table, things can be a little tight and a squeeze, especially if you have a table that is around 6ft in diameter which is often at some venues, even 8ft rounds can be tight! When calculating the acceptable amount of room per guest you consider the person's shoulder width, as well as the minimum depth of your place setting to include plates, cutlery, glasses, candles, serving dishes etc. As such, when looking at elements that you can
change, charger plates are the first thing that I would recommend if upgrading the table size isn't an option. Charger plates add extra width to a persons table setting and it can feel crowded. Another time that it might not work could be to do with the formality of the occasion and the style. Is it appropriate to have a charger plate, or would it be better to have a flat
place mat, or nothing at all? Sometimes there is a place for them, whereas others it might seem like you are gilding the lily.
I actually co-wrote a blog post with the wonderful Enamelware Events on styling your table and crockery that was featured on The English Wedding Blog if you'd like to read more!