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Place Settings: What is a Charger Plate?

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

What is a Charger?

This one question kind of separates someone in the event industry (or someone interested in events) from the rest of the world. Unfortunately the charger is commonly overlooked by the untrained eye, but is an essential ingredient when designing a place setting. Every single event planner should know the answer to this question.

Barn wedding reception tablescape.
Tablescape designed by Luxe Life Event Design. With custom-made place cards, menus, favors and table number!

All About Charger Plates

A charger plate, typically shortened to "charger" (also called service plate), is a large plate that is placed at each guests place setting. The use of the charger is derived from the concept that at a formal dinner your guests should never be seated at an empty table setting. Therefore the charger acts as a holder in between courses (as to not insult your guests!) and can also help to add to the overall deign of the tablescape.

Often used in seated meals, your plate with your meal will be placed on your charger. Food will never be put directly on the charger, it is meant as a place holder for your plate. For a traditional dinner service, the charger will remain on the table for all courses being served until being removed just before the dessert course. You can also use chargers if you have another less formal catering set up, such as buffet or stations, though for this style of service it is optional. I always suggest including a charger for dinner service at events that have a seat for every guest.

Types of Chargers

Both practical and decorative, chargers can dress up the table and help carry your theme or colors throughout the table. The standard ones you may find at restaurants and weddings will typically be round and will either be gold or silver and made of plastic/acrylic. Now, chargers come in many materials:

  • slate

  • glass

  • porcelain

  • wood or faux wood

  • rattan

They also come in just about every color and are available in square, wavy, or other shapes and textures.

How Much do Chargers Cost?

To purchase, they’ll cost anywhere from $1 to $20 or more a piece. If you want to include a unique charger for your event, it may make sense to rent (at $3-$8 or more a piece), especially if you have a large guest count and don’t plan on using them again in the future.

For ideas on how to incorporate chargers or whether or not you need them, reach out to us!

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