Table Setting

Planning Tips: The Big Debate – China v. Plastic

Planning any modern event has its share of challenges, but one of the biggest questions we find brides and event planners mulling over is this: China, or Plastic?

For a formal sit down dinner, your guests will likely be expecting China. But for buffets or meal stations, there might not be an obvious choice. There are of course various factors, like your venue, budget, and the kind of event itself. We’ve put together an honest list of Pros and Cons to help you in your planning process.


Reasons to Use China:

– Because of their elegant and delicate nature, china elevates your event as a whole. It’s perfect (and usually expected) for a formal plated dinner or an indoor event.
– China naturally becomes a part of the decor on your table, making it ideal for any event with a specific color palette and theme.
– China also helps to contribute a complete table setting. Think champagne flutes, red wine and white wine glasses, bread and butter plates, etc.
– Some venues include china in their rental making it ideal for budgeting purposes.
– Glass stemware/barware allows various options for your guests at the bar.


– China is breakable which can affect your damage waiver.
– More service staff is required when serving on china which will increase your budget.
– Renting glass stemware and barware adds up quickly with a higher guest count and a full bar.
– Many venues don’t include china with the rental or include very basic or even unappealing designs. Renting specific china to match your event’s theme or even renting basic dishes can become costly.

Cedarwood Open House, Mar 2016 Jen & Chris Creed (18)

Reasons to Use Plastics:

– Plastics are great for events with a lot of options and stations, allowing for multiple plates to be picked up as guests graze and move about the room.
– Plastics reflect a more casual feel, which is perfect for more laid back events where the entire vibe is meant to be relaxed.
– Because they will all end up in the trash, plastics generally require less service staff.
– Nicer plastic products can be convincingly appealing, which is wonderful for business casual or cocktail style events on a budget.


– Plastics aren’t notably more cost effective per person than china once you add everything up, even though the service costs less.
– Plastics are not ideal for a preset table setting or any formal event.
– Plastic plates accrue more waste.

For those in between events that aren’t necessarily black-tie formal or backyard BBQ casual there isn’t always an easy answer to this. While plastics are great for buffets and stations, many formal weddings choose to elevate their tablescapes by opting for china. Keep in mind that Dream can coach you to the best solution no matter the event and happily manage china rentals or provide plastics for your event.

Ready to start planning our dream event, whether using china or plastic? Send us an email at and get started!