These different cake stands can actually be used for any type of event when decorated accordingly, but you need to take three things into consideration: 1) the kind of event you're planning, 2) the kind of cake you're having for the event, and; 3) the 'look' you wish to achieve with your display. Once you figure these out, you will then get a clearer picture of what cake stand you need, and what you can do with it to achieve the look you are aiming for.
Plateau: A very basic stand, the cake plateau is something one could use at a simple housewarming party, or perhaps a regular family dinner. Usually made of silver or porcelain, it somewhat resembles a pedestal cake stand, but without the long pillar supporting it underneath. Sometimes though, it has three or four short "legs" that give it a small height advantage compared to the other dishes on the table.