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Without a doubt, plates, cups, and bowls are lifestyle essentials and one of the first things couples may think about for their wedding registry. A player in everything from weeknight dinners to fancy dinner parties, your dinnerware not only sets the tone for your table but also speaks to your lifestyle as well. And while everyday dinnerware and formal china can be slightly different, dining has become more casual and so has our dinnerware. You might want something a little more durable and dishwasher-safe for daily meals and then opt for a more delicate, luxe set for formal events. But with innovations in technology and more affordable options out there, it’s also possible to register for one set that will do double duty.
Since a quality set may last for years, choosing something you love is important. Material, shape, color, pattern, and style are all important considerations to make when choosing the dishes that are right for you. Plus, you’ll want them to compliment your food, kitchen decor, and overall style. Whether you’re in the market for a durable everyday set or looking for an opulent, classic pattern, we’ve rounded up the best in every category. Because sitting down to plates you love makes even the simplest meal something to look forward to.
Read on for the best china.
Best Modern: Wedgwood Jasper Conran Strata 16-Piece Set
Crafted of fine bone china and embossed with subtle radial lines, this set gives off an understated, modern vibe without diverging too far from tradition. Designed by Jasper Conran for Wedgwood, this one is refined enough for formal dining, but versatile to use every day.
Best Budget: 10 Strawberry Street Wazee Matte Coupe Dinnerware Set
Available in five muted tones, this hardworking dinnerware is durable enough for everyday use, but the modern design will steal the show at your next dinner party. It's wallet-friendly too, so it's a great option if you want to get extra pieces or splurge on serving pieces.
Best Boho: Anthropologie Old Havana Dinner Plates
Hand-pressed mandala patterns and layers of rich turquoise glaze come together in a whimsical stoneware set. Crafted in Portugal, the dinnerware has an organic, handmade quality that emanates bohemian charm.
Best Everyday: Hawkins New York Shaker Stoneware Dinner Plate
Inspired by the simplicity and pragmatism of Shaker designs, this stoneware set is perfect for everyday use. Chic and modern, the pieces are utilitarian without losing their aesthetic appeal. Plus, they’re available in a selection of pretty, interchangeable shades to suit your style.
Best Bespoke/Rustic: Astier de Villatte Rien Plates
Perfectly imperfect, this bespoke French dinnerware has a rustic look that speaks to its rich history. Each piece is handmade in an antique Bastille workshop on the Rue St. Honore in Paris using a traditional technique passed down over generations. Made of black terracotta, the dinnerware is finished in layers of milky white glaze.
Best Iconic: Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Plain Porcelain Dinnerware
Nearly 1,200 meticulous, hand-painted brushstrokes create the fronds, brackets, and medallions on these intricately patterned plates. Produced continuously by Royal Copenhagen since the 1770s, this iconic blue and white china may be over 200 years old, but it’s the definition of timeless.
Best Retro/Mid-Century: Russel Wright American Modern Dinnerware
If you’re looking for something with a vintage vibe, this set is the real deal. Designed by Mid-Century icon Russel Wright, the dinnerware has gently curved lines and comes in an array of retro shades. Choose a single color for the set or mix-and-match for a more eclectic look.
Best Outdoor: West Elm Modern Melamine Dinnerware
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you’re going to want shatter-proof dinnerware that can withstand the elements. This melamine set features modern silhouettes in a selection of vibrant, summery colors—perfect for a pool-side snack or a picnic dinner!
Best Splurge: Hermes Bleus d'Aiulleurs Dinnerware
Bold, blue, and white radiating patterns create an eye-catching array of patterned plates. Each Limoges porcelain piece is emblazoned with a different design that all comes together in a graphic, artistic statement for the table. It may be a splurge, but it's something you'll treasure forever.
Best Textured: Macy's Michael Aram Palace Dinnerware Collection
Inspired by architecture, this porcelain dinnerware set pays homage to Indian design. The intricate geometric patterns reflect the arches, finials, and ornamentation of palaces and embellish each piece in textured relief. A subtle, but striking statement for any table.
Best Monogrammed: Pickard Color Sheen Monogrammed Dinnerware in Blue and Gold
Love a good monogram? Then you might want plates that don your moniker. An elegant statement for a traditional table, this set has handprinted rims and gilded lettering. Each piece is handmade in Illinois by the renowned American manufacturer, Pickard.
While your choice in china ultimately comes down to needs and style preference, we can’t help but love the Wedgwood by Jasper Conran set. Understated enough for everyday use and chic enough for a formal gathering, this versatile set serves it up for every occasion. If you’re looking for china that’s both formal and iconic, the Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Plain Porcelain Dinnerware is ornate, striking, and comes with a serious pedigree. Craving a pop of color? Coralina by Oscar de la Renta is all about brightness without being overstated.
How many dishes do I need?
Place settings generally come in either four or five-piece settings. Four-piece settings are more common for casual sets and include a dinner plate, salad or dessert plate, soup bowl, and mug whereas the five-piece setting is more typical of formal sets and includes a dinner plate, salad, or dessert plate, bread plate, and a cup and saucer. Not so keen on having a stack of bread plates? Some sets are available to be purchased as "open stock", which allows you to buy individual pieces you know you’ll use.
For everyday dinnerware, six to eight place settings are a good number to get you started as a couple. It means you’ll have extra plates in rotation while others are in the dishwasher and if you’re entertaining, there will be enough settings for a few guests. For formal china, we recommend registering for eight to 12 settings, which is enough for dinner parties and holiday gatherings.
What are the best types of ceramics for plates?
There are four main types of ceramics that are used for dishes: earthenware, stoneware, porcelain/china, and bone china. Each has unique properties that make it uniquely suited for different types of use.
Earthenware is a glazed and fired ceramic that has a thick, rustic look and feel. Most hand-painted plates are made of this material. It tends to be the least expensive type of ceramic when it comes to dinner plates but is not as strong or durable as the other types. It is also prone to chipping and staining. Some earthenware can withstand the dishwasher and microwave, but it’s best to check with the manufacturer's recommendations first.
Stoneware is typical of casual, everyday dinnerware. It tends to be more durable than earthenware and is versatile and easy to maintain with the ability to go in the microwave, dishwasher, oven, and freezer (although, again it's a good idea to check with the manufacturer's recommendation). Thicker than finer materials like porcelain or bone china, it’s available in a range of finishes from shiny to satin and matte.
Porcelain or china
Porcelain and china are both made of fine particle clay that is thin, delicate, and has an almost translucent quality. The material contains kaolin, feldspar, and quartz that is fired at a high temperature, making it extremely durable and allowing for shaped detailing to be incorporated into the design of the plate. Many types of porcelain and china can withstand the dishwasher and microwave, which, along with their fine appearance, make them ideal for formal entertaining, but also a good choice for everyday use.
Bone china is the most durable and chip-resistant of all ceramics. It has the same composition as porcelain, but with the addition of bone ash which allows it to be thinner, lighter in weight, more delicate, and with greater translucency than porcelain. It also tends to be warmer in tone than porcelain, which is typically a brighter white.
Why trust Brides?
Brides contributor Elizabeth MacLennan has been scouring marketplaces around the world— and web— hunting down that just right object for over 15 years as a prop stylist. Read: she’s seen just about everything when it comes to goods for the table! With a discerning eye and astute mind, she considers quality, function, and design when she’s vetting products. That means— these sets of china meet all the requirements. Plus, they’ll look gorgeous on a table!