We often have brides ask us, "what's the difference between a salad and dessert plate?" Our answer? Excellent question!
The answer depends, in practicum, on the manufacturer. For most, there is no difference. The salad and dessert plate is interchangeable. For others, like Herend, every pattern comes with two plates: a smaller dessert plate and larger salad.
This is because, hundreds of years ago and still today in some parts of the world, the dessert course was its own meal. After the main course guests would remove to the parlor where they would enjoy champagne or a dessert wine, a selection of cheeses (and sometimes nuts), dessert, and then coffee or espresso.
While we love this tradition, we understand that it's not practical in the fast-pace of today's world. Nor is it practical for many brides and grooms to register for an extra set of salad/dessert plates, both from a financial perspective and from the vantage point of room (where would you store it?). So, we recommend registering for only one size that you can use for either salad or dessert.
One last tip: for many of these plates, their finishes can be affected by oil and vinegar. So, when using them for salads, be sure to rinse them immediately after use.