*Image and dress (!) above via Castellar Granados.
I often receive queries from brides-to-be asking what to put on a registry. Below, I’ve selected all the items I would register for if I were newly engaged. Many of these items are all-around great items for any household, whether you’re upgrading or refreshing your china cabinet, setting up your first apartment, or looking for staples that you never received when you were engaged. Note that I have limited my choices to items at Bloomingdale’s, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma. I believe it’s fairly standard to register at two places, with the possibility of adding a third for formal china (i.e., Scully & Scully — though Bloomie’s carries a lot of the same high-end china brands), and these shops have almost everything you could want to register for.
On the subject of china: we only registered for formal china and decided to make do with the everyday dishes we already owned. If I could do it again, I would register for a full set of everyday china as well as formal china, but this in part depends on how big your wedding is, and also how expensive the formal china you select is. Formal china from traditional, high-end brands like Spode, Herend, and Bernardaud can be outlandishly expensive — I have been invited to weddings where a single dinner plate was $395! In short, there is some mental math you have to do — there are only so many guests.
And when in doubt, go with white everyday china. We have gotten bored with and gradually retired several sets of colored plates. White shows food much better anyway.
Personally, I would advise focusing on and even over-registering for items related to your china (i.e., multiples of serving bowls that match your set) and glassware cabinet (i.e., multiple sets of wine glasses, drinking glasses, etc.) and skip some of the less expensive kitchen tools you might feel compelled to add to “round everything out.” Frankly, you can find a lot of the best kitchen implements — I’m thinking of things like wooden spoons, whisks, spatulas, peelers — inexpensively at Amazon and just order for yourself. (As an example, I strongly prefer $4 Kuhn Rikon peelers to more expensive stainless steel models from OXO and Rosle. I would much rather have received an extra cereal bowl in my china pattern than an overpriced peeler!) I also think no one really wants to buy a couple of $8 items for a bride and groom — I find guests gravitate towards one meaty, substantial item, like a towel set, a place setting, a serving dish. In my opinion, there is simply something more appealing, more timeless, more elegant about buying a $30 serving dish for a new bride versus a $30 salad spinner, too. So I would spend a little time thinking about what items you would prefer to purchase privately yourself. (I once saw a toilet plunger on someone’s registry. I understand practicality but !!!) In short, you will not find a lot of smaller kitchen items on this list, and intentionally so.
Last note: I would encourage you to add a handful of bigger ticket items, like a vacuum, knife set, or Vitamix, because I often went in on bigger gifts like these with my college girlfriends.
+Servewear: Register for as many of the coordinating serving pieces as you can find for your china set(s) — even duplicates. My mother-in-law gave us multiples of serving dishes that coordinated with our china and I am forever grateful — makes entertaining so much easier. This size of serving bowl is perfect for so many things, the footed bowl is lovely, and this platter would be ideal for anything from slices of steak next to a heap of roasted potatoes to cookies for dessert! Registering for a couple of plain white serving dishes or bowls is always a good idea, too.
+Cutlery: PB has several attractive, timeless stainless steel sets you will never tire of and that will last forever. I like this Georgia style and this bamboo style. Whatever you do, register for a set of Laguiole steak knives! Beautiful and we have used them at least once a week since we tied the knot.
+Table Linens: Quilted tablecloth or runner in a classic white, or any of the pieces from this scalloped Matouk selection, whether placemats, napkins, tablecloth (or all).
+Servers: WS (but also check to see what comes with your cutlery — they often have servers that coordinate, and I would prioritize those).
+Cutting Board: Boos.
+Vase: Monique Lhuillier.
+Wine bucket: Aerin.
*We have a couple of plastic and ceramic mixing bowl sets, but I think stainless steel is the way to go. These are sturdy, can be placed over heat (i.e., can serve as a double boiler / be placed over simmering water to keep potatoes warm), will not scratch, and are lighter-weight (and more durable) than ceramic. If you prefer ceramic (convenient because they can double as serveware in informal settings), these are nice.
ALL-CLAD POTS AND PANS* (EITHER A SET OR SELECT THE SIZES YOU WOULD USE MOST OFTEN — AT A MINIMUM, A FRY PAN, A SMALL SAUCEPAN, A 4 QT SAUCEPAN, AND SOMETHING BIG ENOUGH TO BOIL PASTA IN)
*I also love (!) the look of copper cookware, but it is much more expensive (and requires more maintenance to keep shiny) than stainless steel. We ended up registering for just one Mauviel piece in copper — a saute pan — and have slowly added additional pieces ourselves over the years. If you are of a similar mind, I would also recommend registering for one Mauviel piece but focusing the rest on more reasonably priced All-Clad workhorses.
+Appliances (I would select a handful you really will get use out of — i.e., I have friends who would never make use of an electric kettle or stand mixer, but would live by the coffee machine):
TOASTER (NOTE DIMENSIONS – HAVE HEARD THESE ARE SURPRISINGLY BIG)
+Glassware: I did a complete roundup of all my favorite glasses (for wine, cocktails, water) here, but if you are narrowing in on just one or two places to register, Pottery Barn is a good place for nearly everything you’ll need. I love our Schott Zwiesel wine glasses and these drinking glasses are very similar to the CB2 ones I own and love.
+Miscellaneous. I find people enjoy giving the one-off items on a registry. Here are a few great additions to any home:
CAKE DOME / PUNCH BOWL (WE OWN AND LOVE THIS)
P.P.S. My all-time favorite home gear. (Why did nobody tell me to invest in a good quality vacuum or iron sooner? Best gifts to myself.)