Beginner’s Guide To: Formal Dinnerware

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Now that we’ve covered the basics of casual dinnerware, we figured it was time to go over the next step (and sometimes the most confusing one) in your entertaining arsenal: formal dinnerware.

What is it?

Formal dinnerware, as the name implies, is used for more formal occasions and allows you to set the tone for a special meal, as well as your entertaining style. This type of dinnerware consists of a separate, 5-6 piece set that’s more elaborate than your everyday go-to plates and dishes. The core set includes a dinner plate, bread & butter plate, salad plate, cup and saucer, and, depending on what you are serving, a soup, pasta, or rice bowl. To elevate your table or add some color to your presentation you can also add a charger, which is a decorative piece not intended to be used during dinner. As you’ll be presenting larger quantities of food to your guests, a formal dinnerware collection also usually includes extra serving pieces, like a gravy boat, fruit & dessert bowls, platterssalt & pepper shakers, a teapot, and a pitcher.

Royal Copenhagen Mega Fluted formal dinnerware collection sold on

How many should I register for?

We recommend registering for 10-12 settings, since you’ll likely be hosting a larger number of guests for more formal gatherings. Calculate the maximum number of guests you might have at one time and add 1 or 2 place settings to the final numbers—this will help you account for the occasional broken plate or two. Remember that this is a set you are likely to have for a very long time, so choose something that is both high-quality to last the test of time, and really speaks to your style.

I need it if…

If you love to entertain, are the go-to hosts during the holidays, or even just cook at home often and want something to dress up Sunday suppers, then formal dinnerware is for you. Your registry is the perfect time to upgrade, as your guests will want to help you invest in these nicer serving pieces to kickstart your newlywed entertaining. You can also mark the more expensive items for Group Gifting to make pricier items accessible to all.

Which style is right for me?

Everyone has different tastes, but porcelain and bone china are the most durable materials, as they’re chip-resistant and dishwasher safe, making for a long-lasting set that’s easy to clean up. Here are three styles we’re currently loving:

1. Basic White

You can’t go wrong with classic whites. This style will give you the most flexibility, as you can mix and match with other table accessories and even dress it down for everyday use.

1. Villeroy & Boch Anmut Dinner Plate
2. Villeroy & Boch Anmut Rice Bowl
3. Villeroy & Boch Anmut Dinner Oval Platter

2. Pop of Pattern

We love the playful yet timeless nature of this Royal Copenhagen collection, a modern interpretation of the 1775 classic pattern Blue Fluted Plain. The Fluted Mega collection has a classic white and blue palette in a whimsical, botanical-inspired design.

1. Royal Copenhagen Fluted Mega Dinner Plate
2. Royal Copenhagen Fluted Mega Mug, Set of 2
3. Royal Copenhagen Fluted Mega Oval Dish

3. Bold Metallics

The touch of gold on Kate Spade’s Richmont Road Collection adds a touch of interest and elegance, while remaining neutral enough to fit into any tablescape.
kate spade Richmont Road 5-piece place setting sold on

1. kate spade new york Richmont Road 5-Piece Place Setting
2. kate spade new york Richmont Road Coffeepot with Lid
3. kate spade new york Richmont Road Pasta/Soup Bowl

Start picking out formal dinnerware to add to your Zola registry with our selection of Formal Dinnerware Sets on our Registry Checklist, which will guide you through our most popular sets of formal place settings. We’re 100% positive you’ll find one that you can imagine handing to your grandchildren at the Thanksgiving table in the years and years to come.


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  1. Pingback: Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Registries — The Best of 2017 – Mediasota

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