Many brides prefer the family’s heirloom china

Ever since she was a little girl, Amanda Davis dreamed of one day having her grandmother's cherished wedding china as her very own.

“As a child, I always loved listening to stories about past family gatherings as Mamo took each piece of her china out of the hutch so carefully,” Davis says. “I can remember thinking about how this same china had been used for numerous family gatherings and feeling a sense of connection to my grandfather, who died before I was born, through the china that I knew he had used with my grandmother on similar family occasions.”

Davis had no idea her grandmother, Bettie Guillion, shared a similar dream. Guillion knew her granddaughter loved her china, and planned to pass along her precious heirlooms when Davis grew up and set her own big date. But there was one problem – missing pieces. Guillion received the set for her own wedding in the early 1940s and while she had managed to keep most of her beloved collection through the decades, somewhere along the way, the cups and saucers disappeared. Guillion's daughter, Linda Bohannon, thought it would be impossible to replace them.

“My mother picked her china out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog more than 60 years ago, so we knew there was just no way we'd ever find it,” Bohannon says. “The only thing she could remember about her china was that it was made by Homer Laughlin. That didn't seem like much to go on, so at that point I just hoped we could find some nice cream colored pieces Amanda could use with the set.”

Bohannon heard about Replacements, Ltd., known as the world's largest supplier of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. When she visited the company's Web site, Bohannon found a list of china made by Homer Laughlin and noticed photographs of most patterns. She started clicking away and was almost speechless when she came across an image that looked very familiar.

“I called my mother and asked her, does your china have little pink and yellow roses on it, and could the pattern name be 'Countess'?” Bohannon remembers. “That was it; that was her china! I was completely flabbergasted. It never entered my mind that we would be able to find the exact pattern. My mother was absolutely thrilled!”

Davis isn't alone in creating wedding registries for family treasures. Many brides are choosing to complete china, crystal and flatware sets lovingly handed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter. Unfortunately, if the patterns are especially old there is a good chance that the manufacturer no longer produces the pieces, making it nearly impossible to track down at most department stores.

“We're one of the few places brides inheriting heirloom patterns can turn to for help because of our huge, diverse inventory of discontinued patterns, some more than 100 years old,” says Traci Hart, Replacements' director of customer service. “Nearly 80 percent of our bridal registry sales are generated from discontinued and heirloom patterns. What's more, we've put together a group of associates to specifically handle all registry requests. Because these folks are really familiar with our bridal customers, we can offer more personalized attention. It's almost like having your own personal shopper.”

Brides like Davis, who don't know their pattern name, are in luck. The company also offers a free pattern identification service. Replacements' research team receives nearly 3,000 requests weekly from people who don't know the name or manufacturer of their patterns.

“I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to receive this piece of family history,” Davis says. “I can already picture myself as a mother and grandmother pulling this same china out of my own hutch as I tell stories of my grandmother. I hope that in the future they will feel the same sense of family history and pride and that I will one day be able to pass it on to my own granddaughter. To know that it will be used in future generations of my family in the same way it was used in past generations is an amazing gift.”

You can learn more about Replacements' bridal registry and free pattern identification service at Replacements.com. – ARA


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