Beautiful dinnerware can be a surprisingly large investment for newlyweds. Originally designed to help couples acquire a full set of fine china, wedding registries often now include both the formal dishes and one or two sets of casual dinnerware. However, registries are quite flexible, and you can choose just the dinnerware you want -- whether you need complete sets or a few pieces to expand what you already have. If you make a list of the pieces you want before you start shopping, you can shop quickly and concentrate on style.
Fine dinnerware is made of bone china or porcelain and is usually white or mostly white, often decorated with a delicate pattern. The formal china place setting is the centerpiece of the dinnerware registry because it helps insure that the couple will get equal numbers of plates and cups. It is customary to register for 8 to 12 place settings and for the basic serving dishes.
Five-piece place setting (dinner plate, salad plate, bread or soup plate, cup and saucer)
Cereal or fruit bowls
Covered serving bowl
Large serving platter
Small serving platter
Dishes intended for everyday use are usually made of earthenware or stoneware. Casual dinnerware is heavier and more colorful than formal china, and a great option for "design-your-own" sets. Pick all pieces from one pattern, or choose the place settings from one pattern and then accent them with serving dishes of other styles. Order more of the small plates and coffee mugs if you prefer to entertain with appetizers and desserts instead of full meals.
Four-piece place setting (dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, coffee mug)
After choosing your patterns and basic dishes, look at the extra pieces that will personalize your dinnerware. If the pattern you chose doesn't include these pieces, look for them in a complementary pattern.
Charger plates for formal dinners
Salt and pepper shakers