The Good Stuff
The world of wedding registries is seeing a renaissance in traditional items and luxury goods—and that’s a good thing. While trendy ergonomic lemon squeezers and countertop espresso machines can be fabulously fun additions to today’s newlywed nests, it’s the fine china, the good crystal, the luxury linens, that are likely to be with you through the years, and become heirloom pieces to be passed down to and enjoyed by future generations. With that in mind—and with the price points most fine tableware and home goods carry—here is what to keep in mind when registering for classic wedding gifts.
Everyday Elegance. Your mom insists you need at least 12 full place settings of china, silverware and crystal, not to mention a luxurious silk-blend tablecloth for the dining-room table you have yet to purchase. But today’s modern couple may not necessarily need or want to register for all of the traditional items their moms and dads stocked up on decades ago. Instead, register for what you really love, and keep practicality in mind.
“Couples should understand that many of the popular or traditional guidelines do not necessarily reflect the genuine needs of today’s couple,” explains Isabelle von Boch of famed European tableware-maker Villeroy & Boch. “Why register for an extravagant set of china and keep it hidden away in the cupboard, unused? Beautiful, quality china doesn’t have to be fragile. It should be strong, and safe for the dishwasher and microwave.”
Transitional clothing—pieces that work well both day and night—are staples in a fashionista’s closet. The same principle holds true for creating a fashionable yet practical tabletop at home. Keeping versatility in mind while registering for luxury items—especially when it comes to tableware and flatware—is a must. Choose pieces that work well not only for special occasions, holidays and upscale dinner parties, but also for everyday use. “Don’t register for a lifestyle in which the everyday is treated as inferior,” explains von Boch. “Register for a pattern that may be dressed up or down and works easily with other designs.”
Consider investment pieces that you will use every day or more often than on major holidays, she suggests, “and your investment will be worthwhile.” She adds, “In terms of place settings, multi-functional little plates are great gems to bring the ‘wow’ factor to any party or for everyday living.”
And remember, “Couples do not have to buy a traditional, five-piece-place-setting china collection,” advises von Boch. “Register for china that is available in open stock instead.” Open stock china simply means this: Couples may register for individual pieces—dinner and bread plates, for example—rather than the traditional, complete place setting. The result is a collection of high-end china that suits a couple’s entertaining needs and contemporary lifestyle.
The Case for Crystal. It may seem like an indulgent item on your registry, but, in fact, crystal is something couples should keep on their short lists. “Whether a couple chooses traditional, vintage-inspired, or stemless tumblers, crystal is meant to be enjoyed and can be used for any occasion,” von Boch notes.
“Buying a new home, the arrival of a new baby, a hard-earned promotion at work, and, of course, wedding anniversaries, are just a few of life’s milestones that couples will have to look forward to after the wedding day,” explains Michelle Richards, director of public relations and special events for Waterford Wedgwood. “Whether it’s as simple as a toast with your treasured Champagne saucers or as decadent as a sparkling Waterford chandelier in your dining room, crystal is fast becoming the universal symbol of chic elegance and sophistication.”
Beware Hot Trends. That Greek-key or chevron-patterned china is stunning, yes. But in 20 years will it still be chic? While registries certainly are a time to choose items that reflect your style and personality, it’s wise to indulge your eclectic tastes with items you can change out over time—bed linens, towels and decor items, for example—and select china with an eye on enduring style. “Classic china is always a good bet,” says Julie Shuford of Bering’s. A couple of her favorite patterns? “Herend’s ‘Golden Edge’”—a scalloped-edge pattern with delicate 24K-gold trim—“is beautiful and classic.” She also likes Juliska’s “Berry & Thread,” an easy-to-care-for, handcrafted stoneware line with a lower price point.
If settling on one china style seems a daunting task, don’t. There’s no hard-and-fast rule that says couples have to register for one single pattern or style. “Registering for three different patterns of fine china is not extravagant if you will be using them all on a regular basis,” says von Boch. “Couples can pick different design patterns from differing collections to elevate their dining experience every time they sit down at the table.”
His Opinion. As a bride you might find it easy to steer your beloved into registering for crystal Champagne flutes, gold-plated dessert saucers and fine silverware. But just because he seems disinclined to place any obstacles in the path of your enthusiasm doesn’t mean you should leave him out of the fun.
Before adding items to your registry, include your fiancé in your plans. “It is important that while a bridal registry is, well, a bridal registry, your fiancé should play a hand, if he is so inclined,” says Shuford.
Have him weigh in on areas where his interests lie, such as the grill or bar. For example, crystal rocks glasses or tumblers, a martini-shaker set or whiskey decanter are great additions to any well-stocked bar. He may also want to be involved in decisions on items that affect his daily comfort, such as luxury bed linens and towels.
Price Range. When registering for classic tabletop and luxury items, consider including pieces for as low as $40 and up. “This gives room for guests to purchase something at all ranges,” says Shuford.
Adds Elizabeth Swift, gift-registry specialist with iconic Houston retailer Kuhl-Linscomb, “It is important to cover high and low price points on your registry and several items in each category. Your guests want to feel like they have plenty to choose from for the varying events they will be attending leading up to and including the wedding. This is the one time in your life you will have lots of help purchasing items from your wish list, so select those big-ticket items for your registry as long as you cover the other end of the spectrum as well.”
You never know who may want to splurge a little or go in with a group of people to get you an amazing gift. If the only items you care to add to your registry are pricier than most guests will likely purchase, one way to skirt the issue of price point is to register for gift cards. “Gift cards on your registry are a wonderful option for guests, as they can be purchased in any amount,” Shuford notes.
While Shuford recommends keeping price point in mind while registering for luxury goods, she offers this caveat: “When considering higher price-point registry items, we suggest moving forward with what you like. It is far better to register for what you like as a couple—even if it means only ending up with six place settings when you would like 12—and collect the pattern or pieces over the years, than to settle for something. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your wedding registry doesn’t have to be either.”