A History of Table Settings

Nov 06 2013

Service plates, also known as charger plates, are decorative plates placed beneath standard dinner plates. Used for more formal events, such as weddings and upscale parties, these plates first gained popularity in the 19th century. Regaining popularity in the early 1990’s, food is not served directly on these charger plates, often causing them to be known as chop plates or under plates.

The word charger originated from Middle English from 1275 to 1325. A charger often signified either a large platter or a shallow dish designed for holding liquids.

Larger than standard dinner plates, and since they are not used for food, charger plates come in an assortment of materials, ranging from plastic, china, wood, metal, glass and even pearl. They are decorated with a variety of substances, some of which may be toxic if consumed.

Charger plate etiquette varies among restaurants and caterers. Many professional catering companies typically remove decorative charger plates once guests are seated and before food is served. Charger plates generally remain on the dining table through appetizers, salads, soups and first courses, serving as a sort of base upon which dishes are placed.

If charger plates compliment dinnerware patterns, they are often left on the table during meals. They are, however, always removed prior to dessert.

Charger plates should always be placed approximately one-inch from the edge of the table and between the silverware settings.

A proper formal dinnerware setting is as follows:

Water glasses, white and red wine glasses are always positioned to the right, just left of the coffee cup and saucer, which is placed to the far right.
The bread and/or salad plate is placed to the left, with the accompanying butter knife placed on top.
The beverage, soup and dessertspoons are placed to the right of the knife. However, the soup and dessertspoons may also be placed on the table when soup or dessert is served.
The salad and dinner fork are placed on the left.
Charger plates should be placed under dinner plates to dress up table settings. Dinner plates are placed on top with soup bowls resting on top of the dinner plates.

Just Charger Plates carries a wide assortment of decorative charger plates, including round charger plates, square charger plates and octagonal charger plates. Available in a variety of colors and materials, customers can choose from a wide assortment that will surely match any table setting styles.