One of the first things couples add to their bridal registry is dinnerware, and particularly, wedding china. Although the word “china” often referrers to all dinnerware—formal and casual—not all china is alike. There are a number of shapes, patterns, materials, colors and most importantly, price points to choose from. But before you start out on your search for wedding ideas and beautiful table settings, take our crash course on how to select china that will last you a lifetime.
China basics: determining quality
Fine wedding china is made from one of two sources—bone china or porcelain. Bone china is regarded as the highest quality bridal registry china you can buy, because of its incredible durability. During the firing process, bone china withstands tremendous heat. Although the finished product is considerably lightweight, bone china is many times more resistant to chipping or breaking than other types of dinnerware.
Porcelain has many of the same characteristics of bone china, but is often less expensive than bone china and is more ideal for everyday use. Casual dinnerware options include stonewear, earthenware and glass. These are typically less expensive than both bone china and porcelain.
Tip: Bone china should always be hand-washed in warm (not hot) water and never placed in the microwave. For porcelain and casual dinnerware, always check the back of the dish to verify if it is microwave and/or dishwasher safe.
Place settings: buy the numbers
A traditional fine wedding china place setting comes in 5 pieces (dinner plate, salad/dessert plate, bread & butter plate, teacup, and saucer), while more casual china includes only 4 pieces (dinner plate, salad/dessert plate, bowl, and tea/coffee cup).
The number of place settings to ask for in your bridal registry depends on how often you plan to use your china. Although some say that a 10 to 12 place setting is ideal, you don’t have to buy that large of a quantity if it does not fit into your lifestyle or reflect your personality as a couple. However, if you are a couple that loves to entertain, you’ll want to ask for more pieces to suit your needs.
China patterns: finding your style
Every couple’s decorating taste and bridal registry is different. While some prefer flash and pizazz, others might like to keep things more simple and subdued. No matter where you fall on the decorating spectrum, there is a wedding china pattern to match your personality. Some of the most popular china patterns are banded (with 22-karat gold or platinum rims), have floral designs or Asian (oriental) motifs.
Tip: Want to know what to do with that mismatched china you received as a bridal registry gift? Mixing and matching place settings is a great way to add flair to your dinner party or table setting.
Additional serveware: completing your set
Your basic fine wedding china place settings are just that—basic. Other serveware items like sugar bowls, gravy boats, trays, and coffee and tea service sets come separately. Depending on your china pattern and type, you might be surprised to find that additional serveware items can cost almost as much as a 4- or 5-piece place setting! Although china sets may seem to be the most expensive line items on a bridal registry, you should consider it an investment to be used for many years, which can be passed down for future generations to enjoy.
Tip: When completing your china set, be sure to include standards like utensils, bowls and cups in various diameters and sizes.
This basic guide to selecting wedding china shows you what to look for when shopping for your bridal registry. When selecting wedding china during your wedding planning, always choose pieces that are fitting to your personality and meet your current entertaining and dining needs. Luckily, most tableware stores keep stock of popular lines and patterns, ensuring your ability to continue adding pieces throughout the years as your needs change.