It was a natural choice—using the beloved, collected dishes from my mother and grandmother’s curio cabinets. Dishes so loved they live behind glass windows—like a piece of fine art in a museum. It was a natural choice to use the collections of Mamaw’s and Mama’s plates and tea cups—thrifted from Goodwill or yard sales, found in auction boxes and on wooden shelves. The church plates were a light green, plastic, and simply obscene for a navy and gold wedding. The beloved dishes of my loved ones weren’t plastic or styrafoam—they were washed and re-used, to be loved again and again. It was a natural choice to honor those I love and what they love.
Months before the wedding while visiting my mother, she tenderly takes the first set of dishes she ever owned from a box that lives in the attic. Holding one, silver rimmed, Winter Set plate from American Royalty, she smiles and talks about saving money to buy a whole set of nice dishes. Not plastic divided plates, not thick dinner plates, not a ceramic set from Target—a set of nice dishes. Her own set of dishes for hosting, for entertaining, for the sheer delight of eating from something nice. She laughs that she paid full price for them—she’s never done that for a set of dishes since.
The stories that came from the dishes on that special day were many. “I ate from a set of dishes I collected plate by plate from my local bank” or “the dishes you had are like a set of my great grandmother’s.” They were stories of love and memories of shoo-fly pie, green beans, and corn on the cob. Stories of homemade meals and slow food cooked by loving hands.
By using them, we honor them. By delighting in their form and function, we honor the something before our eyes. We honor the craftsmanship. We honor the artistry and the intricate design of the pattern. We honor the lives they’ve lived before gracing our tables. We honor my grandmother and mother who love dishes so dearly that they hunt for them, collect them, and display them behind glass doors in their homes.