The Trifecta of Wedding China

What couples should consider when registering for china.

Written by: Isabelle von Boch


There is much to be considered when registering for wedding china, and many of the popular or “traditional” guidelines do not necessarily reflect the genuine needs of today’s couple. Also, Americans are encouraged to register for only two sets of dishes – the sophisticated, formal china that spends most of the year in the cupboard, and the casual china of poorer quality that is used every day. Don’t register for a lifestyle in which the everyday is treated as inferior! Your most beautiful things should be seen and used often. Gorgeous, quality china doesn’t have to be fragile – it can be strong and safe for the dishwasher and microwave. Toss aside the notions of the “traditional” five-piece place setting and informal china, and select the number of pieces and patterns based on their usefulness and the meals for which they are intended.  

Breakfast Set
For your breakfast china, you do not need to register for five-piece settings or all the traditional serving ware because you won’t use everything for the morning meal. Choose a pattern that is happy, has color, and wakes you up. I suggest breakfast for six, as you may occasionally have family visiting, so my recommendation is to register for six of each of the items below unless otherwise noted.

*Dinner plates. Ham and eggs, pancakes, French toast – all the traditional hot-breakfast items require a spacious plate. 

*Bowls. I am a big proponent of bowls! Any bowl with a plate beneath it is perfect for cereal, yogurt, fruit, and breakfast soups such as miso. Oatmeal should be served in a flat-based bowl so the toppings are easily mixed with every bite. If hot cereal is a menu staple in your repertoire, register for rimmed soup bowls.

*Cups. You need a large-size breakfast cup or mug for morning coffee, café au lait, cappuccino, and other morning drinks. If you’re a tea drinker, be sure to include cups and saucers. Otherwise, save them for your dessert set. Eggcups are obviously ideal for breakfast if you are so inclined, but if you won’t use them, don’t add them to your wish list.

*Platters. A platter or two on which to serve breads, such as muffins and scones, or sliced fruit will complete your cheerful breakfast tableau.

Dinner Set
My recommendation is to select dinner china that is available in open stock, which means you may register for individual pieces rather than in five-piece place settings at a time. A pattern that may be dressed up or down and works easily with other designs is ideal for dinner. Although, 12 is considered the standard, base your count on your individual needs. 

*Dinner plates. The dinner plate is used for the main course, and holds the soup bowl if one is used.

*Rimmed soup bowls. A rimmed soup bowl, which looks like a deep plate, is best for anything that has a sauce, such as pasta or risotto. Sauce will run away on a flat plate. 

*Salad plates. Salad plates can also be used for appetizers, so they are a wise, practical investment.

*Oversized pasta plates. Choose white oversized pasta dishes to make food the star when serving risotto, pasta, stews, and one-pot meals. These are great for main-course salads, too, and make ordinary food feel like it has been prepared by a gourmet chef. 

*Gravy boat. The gravy boat may end up holding gravy only during holidays, but it can also be used for sauces, maple syrup, hot fudge, raspberry coulis, and other melted or fluid substances, so it’s definitely worth adding it to your wish list. 

*Serving Pieces. A selection of platters and bowls in different sizes, including a covered vegetable bowl for soups, will complete your dinner set.

Dessert Set
A dessert set calls for a lavish pattern, full of color and decidedly feminine – if your husband-to-be objects to a floral pattern for your dinner set, your dessert dishes are the place to indulge in all the flowers you wish. This is also a great place to add platinum or gold accents since you won’t have too many to hand wash. In addition to dessert, this set can be used for Sunday brunch, tea, or for small bites in the living room to create a special atmosphere. Although you will register for fewer product types, you should match the quantity of each item to your dinner set.

*Plates. A salad plate, or bread-and-butter plate if you prefer, is correct for dessert and may also be used for appetizers. 

*Teapot. The boiling water is transferred from the kettle to the teapot and the tea is steeped in and served from the pot.

*Coffeepot. Coffee is transferred from the machine’s carafe and served from the pot.

*Cups and saucers. This is the best place to register for cups and saucers since they will get the most use.

*Sugar bowl and creamer. Cater to the comfort of your guests by having everything at hand.

Every time you and your husband sit down for a meal, you are strengthening the fabric of your relationship. Registering for three different patterns of fine china is not extravagant if you will be using them all on a regular basis. It would be extravagant to register for one set of valuable china and then keep it hidden away in the cupboard unused! Guests will have a greater selection from which to choose, and you will be elevating your dining experience every time you sit down at the table. What could be a greater gift than that?

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