Ah, the wedding registry – one of the most fun parts of wedding planning! I loved shopping around with Jacob for things we’d need right after the wedding (since we were moving in together for the first time), but it was also so romantic thinking about the kind of life we’d want later down the road. I love the thought of extravagant entertaining, and even though we don’t have the room for grand dinner parties right now, I know that in the future we’ll want to be able to welcome people into our home with warm hospitality. For me, part of preparing for that season of life was choosing our wedding china.
Now, there’s nothing that will make you feel more like an old soul than hunting for a Bed Bath & Beyond that still has fine china on display (I had much better luck at Macy’s!). Formal entertaining seems to be a thing of the past, but with my love of beautiful tablescapes, I knew I wanted to find a timeless china pattern that would elevate an everyday table setting into something more. However, knowing how often people register for china and never end up using it, I kept a few things in mind when shopping for the perfect pattern:
- Something classic and elegant that will stand the test of time (both in quality and in style)
- Something that can be dressed up or down for various occasions so it can be used regularly
- Something that brings me joy and is exciting to bring out!
- China that sits on display in the china cabinet and is never used (or only used once or twice a year)
- Something with a vintage-looking or fussy pattern that can’t be easily mixed with accent plates
- A pattern whose pieces would be painfully expensive to replace in case of breakage (Herend was out of the question!)
CHARGER crate & barrel stainless steel charger plate // FINE CHINA lenox federal platinum 5-piece place setting // STEMWARE waterford ‘lismore’ goblets // FLATWARE mikasa ‘regent bead‘ // FLATWARE robert welch ‘caesna’ // MONOGRAM shuler studio antique chic embroidery font // NAPKINS custom order from JuliaCreationDesings on etsy // NAPKIN RINGS crate & barrel ’emerson’ napkin rings
For me, that timeless pattern was Lenox Federal Platinum. I love the simplicity of the creamy bone china complimented by shiny platinum rings. It’s not a set that will ever look dated (which I hope will help it become a family heirloom – I would love to pass the set on to a daughter that will really cherish it someday!), and the unassuming pattern makes it easy to layer with accent plates for various holiday seasons. I see us using our china for Sunday suppers, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthday brunches, dinner parties, and every special occasion in between – life is too short to not pull out the good stuff every chance you get!
All that being said, I have to be honest. Jacob and I didn’t end up keeping our fine china on our registry. I had registered for twelve place settings when we first started putting our registry together, but a few months before my first bridal shower, we decided to take it off. Keeping in mind we got married one month after our college graduation, we needed a lot of basic essentials for our new life together. In order to prioritize those necessities, we removed all the fine china from our registry – a decision I do regret looking back on it. If you want to register for china and know you’ll use it, definitely keep it on your list!
After the wedding, I knew I still wanted a set of fine china, but I figured we would just buy a place setting here and there over the years, as the pattern I wanted retails for $100 / place setting (quite the investment for a full twelve place settings, especially since we’d be buying it ourselves). But, nearly six months after our wedding day, we have gotten very lucky (that, or the angels have been smiling upon us!).
We decided to pop into a Habitat for Humanity ReStore one December afternoon, and would you guess what we found? A 5-piece place setting of Lenox Federal Platinum (new and still in the box) for a small fraction of what it would cost retail. Less than a week later, I visited my brother in Austin and found a kind gentleman selling four brand-new place settings he and his wife received for their wedding (but didn’t see themselves using) for the price of one. Suffice to say, we now have five place settings and our current dining table is only big enough to seat four – that’s pretty good in my book! While we didn’t actually receive our china as a wedding gift, I still consider it to be our “wedding china”, and I’m so thankful we were able to start our collection so much earlier than anticipated!
We hope to inherit silver one day, but for the time being we’re pairing our china with an 18/10 stainless steel flatware set from Mikasa in the pattern Regent Bead with additional pieces (butter spreaders, cocktail forks, and demitasse spoons) from the Robert Welch Caesna collection, which compliments the silhouette of our main flatware very well. For stemware, I managed to find a set of thirteen Waterford Lismore goblets (my favorite crystal pattern) at an estate sale in Houston when I visited my parents in December, and they make such a beautiful pairing with our china. I’m still on the lookout for a set of iced beverage glasses, but I know we’re inheriting crystal from my grandmother, so we’ll likely use what she gifts us. My parents also gifted us a beautiful set of dinner napkins embroidered with our wedding monogram from Shuler Studio, which I just love!
I absolutely love how stately everything looks together – it feels fresh and modern, while also being formal enough for special occasions. I’m so excited to bring this table setting out for both Sunday suppers with just the two of us and entertaining in larger numbers further down the line. I’m also shopping around for some fun accent plates I can add for Christmas and Easter, and I love that the simple elegance allows me so much freedom when it comes to layering different styles and patterns!
Tips for Choosing Your Wedding China:
- Choose something you really love! My husband and I are definitely traditionalists, but we prefer styles that feel more updated and fresh. If you love the look of vintage florals or bold geometric patterns, don’t be afraid to register for something a little more fun!
- Make sure to mind the price point. If you’re registering for china instead of buying it yourself, it’s important to take your guests’ budgets into consideration. Don’t think you have many guests that would be willing to spend $400+ on a place setting? Maybe skip the Herend and go for Wedgwood or Lenox instead.
- Also, keep in mind how often you’ll be using your china and what the replacement costs are. Replacing a piece of Lenox Federal Platinum here and there won’t break the bank, so I’d feel totally comfortable letting our future kids use our china for family dinners (once they’re out of a high chair, of course!). If your pattern is so expensive that you’re afraid to take it out of the cabinet, you may not get as much use out of it as you’d like. Choose something that you can afford to replace, and you’ll be far more likely to pull it out more than twice a year.
- Don’t be afraid to mix and match. Love the dinner plate from one pattern, but the salad plate from another? Register for individual pieces instead of full place settings to get the exact layered look you want!
- Read the care instructions before you choose a pattern. If you won’t be up for hand washing your china after a meal, you’ll likely want to avoid patterns with gold or platinum trim. Metal-trimmed china also generally can’t be microwaved, so keep that in mind if that’s a deal breaker for you.
- Bone china is a cream color, and porcelain is white. If you prefer the crisp look of white dinnerware (or already have some porcelain serving pieces you want to match with your china), you’ll want to choose a pattern made of fine porcelain. Bone china is colored with bone char, resulting in a beautiful, slightly translucent cream color. There’s a pretty stark color difference between bone china and porcelain if they’re placed right next to each other, so if you don’t already own bone china, I would find somewhere to see it in person before registering for a bone china pattern (Macy’s is a great option). Some people love it (like me!) and some people don’t – it’s all up to personal preference!
To all of my soon-to-be brides, are you registering for fine china? And to any ladies that are already married, what china pattern did you choose when you got married? I would love to hear about the combinations y’all have come up with!