Most couples nowadays aren't registering for fine china, but still want something nice to serve their guests with on holidays, dinner parties, and special occasions. So here is the compromise and meeting in the middle: everyday china. My Mom had a set that we referred to as the "old lady dishes" beacause they were pastel colors. We've gotten more use out of it than the fine china. I mean, who REALLY wants to hand wash dishes while in a turkey-coma?
Here are some more economical ways to get a more formal look from sets that can withstand daily or bi-yearly use.
For the Traditionalist:
If you still want the elegant look of fine china without the hassle, the Fleur de Lys dinnerware set from Anthropologie (pictured above except for large serving plate in the middle(that's Juliska)) is perfect. I absolutely LOVE it- if I didn't have to worry about paying bills and saving to get my own place, I'd go out and get the whole set today.
For the Middle of the Road person:
If you don't want your china to look stuffy but still want a look that is classic, opt for a punch of color. The Fiesta dinnerware is perfect for this and gives you a couple of options. Option 1: Coose 2 complementing colors and use one as the base color and the other as an accent color. In other words, register for all of your dishes and salad bowls in the chosen base color and register for items such as the gravy bowl, pitcher, chargers and butter dish in the chosen accent color (you could use the 2 colors pictured above- Dillard's did a similar combo with Cobalt Blue as the base and Shamrock as the accent color). Trust me, this looks really good together especially when you add in option 2. Option 2: Follow option 1 and then add a bit of elegance by registering for a silver serving platter and salad bowl. If you really want to "kick it up a notch", monogram your serving platter. (images below via Dillard's)Option 3: For those of you on the more adventurous side, get a place setting in every different color (or at least the ones that look good together).
For the Bohemian or Artsy person:
Hand-painted ceramic dinnerware. While visiting the Amalfi Coast on a trip to Italy, I fell in love with the local ceramics and pottery. The beautiful, bright colors are cheery without being too overpowering. And apparently this look is all the rage- it was all over Anthropologie when I went last week. I found the set below online from a store on the Amalfi Coast called Il Ninfeo.
Mix and Match!
The possibilities are endless... Get solid colored chargers, pitchers, and serveware and pair it with the hand-painted dinnerware and vice-versa. You can even use a more neutral serving platter like the one from the Fleur de Lys collection with the hand-painted stuff. Just make sure that you have a few "anchor" pieces to keep it from looking like you have inherited every one of your relative's dinner and serving sets over the past 20 years.