By: Tracey Manailescu, WPIC Co-founder and Vice President
As wedding planners in Canada, we are often seated with the guests in the main dining room during dinner service. This is so that we can best supervise the events that unfold over the evening. If we can’t keep an eye on what is happening, how can we possibly step in and do our jobs when something goes awry? Because of this, we need to ensure that we know and use our dining etiquette. This article will focus on must-know table manners for wedding planners.
Since we are typically working 12-14 hours on a wedding day, we need to be fed. This is why we include meals in the main dining area in our contracts. Any wedding pro that is working the duration of the wedding, and is onsite during the dinner service should be given a meal.
Some venues will have the wedding team eating in a different area than the guests and we can watch the evening unfold on a monitor. Honestly, this is a bit difficult as we can’t see the entire room and what is happening. Other venues will have the wedding team taking shifts to go and eat their meal in another area. If no meal is provided, than the wedding team will, and should have a clause in their contract that they will be stepping out to go and purchase a meal. Do you really want the wedding team to be off-premises and miss out on key moments because they weren’t being fed?
Issues That Could go Wrong
During the meal there are a variety of issues that can and do occur quite often. Speeches are most likely going on and can get out of hand. Open mics can go bad in no-time. Kitchen mishaps happen with food restrictions and allergies. Children’s meals need to be given. Lights are dimmed or not. Guests may be drinking too much and may need to be cut off. Demanding guests and arguments may need to be diffused, and various other situations can occur.
We need to be able to foresee a problem and act quickly before guests, or our couples are aware of it. The photographer and videographer will need to be jumping up and capturing special planned moments, as well as impromptu surprises that happen. The DJ may need to jump in and intervene when an unexpected guest comes up to give a speech and it’s all kinds of inappropriate.
Let’s assume all is well, and we are ready to eat at a vendor table or a table with other guests. I’ve been placed at both of these as well as at family tables with parents and siblings. Every couple will be different.
The guests and other wedding pros are going to expect you to know your dining etiquette and watch and mimic what you do. We spend quite a bit of time on this in our WPIC Wedding Planner & Coordinator Certification course. It also is important to know when you are attending a conference or industry event.
Before the Meal
- Place your emergency kit, purse and phone out of the way. Under your chair or on the back of your chair is great. In no way do you want to be inconveniencing others around you.
- Put your napkin on your lap
- Your water glass will be on the right side above your cutlery
- The bread plate will be on the left side
During the Meal
- Only begin eating when everyone at your table has been served
- If someone is waiting on a meal due to a food restriction or allergy it is up to that person to tell you to start eating
- Use the cutlery from the outside and work your way in for each course
- Do not blow on your food
- Pass the salt and pepper together
- If you need to pass food to others, do so from left to right
- Don’t speak with your mouth full
- Use your utensils properly (know which hands to cut and eat with, where to put them when resting, when you need to go and check on something but are coming back, and where to put them you are finished). Continental style is the most commonly used and accepted world-wide (hold fork in left hand and knife in right), and American style is US based (once finished cutting, switch hands to eat with fork in right hand).
- Know what to do with your napkin when you are getting up to help with something, or need to step away for a minute (it goes on the back of your chair)
- Keep at the same pace as other guests while eating (not too fast or too slow)
After the Meal
- Position your cutlery in the 4:20 position to let your server know that you are finished
- Your napkin should be folded loosely and placed on the left side (right side if you are in the US).
- Never pick your teeth or put your fingers in your mouth while at the table with others
- Be kind and courteous to your servers and others at your table
Do you have any other tips to add to the above article? Let us know in the comments below.