I was putting away my dishes yesterday and kept looking at the cupboards of stuff that we had accumulated over the years. I was contemplating what I would have done differently when we registered for our wedding gifts and set-up our first kitchen together. I have a bit of an inside scoop - I used to work in the gift registry department at The Bay, Queen Street while attending U of T. I would help people pick out what they needed for their first home as a couple.
So here is a list of dinnerware that we ended up using all the time and recommend for your first kitchen:
(12) Dinner Plates
(12) Salad Plates
(6) Cereal/Soup Bowls
(6) Pasta Style Bowls
(12) Full Box Set of Everyday Cutlery
(12) Tall Water Glasses
(6) Juice-Sized Glasses
(2) Serving Platters
(1) Salad Bowl with Tongs
(1) Sugar Bowl, Creamer, Teapot
(12) Wine Glasses (inexpensive kind that your drunk friends can break)
(6) Champagne Flutes (see above)
(6) Martini Glasses (same rule applies)
Make sure you choose something that can go into the dishwasher and you will seriously use everyday. Pick out a brand like Denby, which is durable and will last for years to come and not looked all scratched up. Yes, they do cost around $30/plate - but it is a wedding gift and stuff that you wouldn't be able to afford on your own.
I would recommend doing less quantities of mugs/glasses and add-on if you think you need more. Think realistically if you are going to live in a small condo or starter home with less cupboard space. If you are thinking of registering for China, skip it if you don't even have a good everyday dinnerware set yet. Focus on getting the stuff you need first and upgrade all those crappy dishes from University.