For many engaged couples, just the idea of registering for wedding gifts can seem daunting. When almost anything can be yours for the asking -- garden tools, wine, furniture, even a trip -- it's difficult to decide. But traditionally, wedding gifts are items that will help you create your new home and are intended to last a lifetime.
Whether you register at one store or several, always consider your personal style and home decor. Think about your plans for entertaining. Take an inventory of items you own or will inherit. Include items for different budgets and occasions, such as engagement parties and showers. Try to choose pieces you love now, but look to the future, too.
China, stoneware, flatware, and glassware traditionally make up the largest part of a gift list. It is customary to register for two complete sets, one for daily use and casual entertaining (usually sturdy stoneware or earthenware and stainless-steel flatware), and one for formal occasions (usually bone china or porcelain and silver flatware). For each set, choose the china, flatware, and glassware together because they will be used together. Plan to register for at least eight to 12 place settings.
China is usually sold in five-piece place settings that include a dinner plate, salad plate, cup, saucer, and bread plate or soup bowl. Consider adding pieces such as pasta bowls and chargers and serving pieces such as vegetable bowls and platters. Some shops such as The Wedding List allow couples to register for individual pieces so items such as salad or dessert plates can be mixed and matched for a final effect that is unique.
Flatware is also typically sold in five-piece settings that include a dinner fork, salad fork, knife, teaspoon, and tablespoon or soupspoon. Double the number of salad forks and teaspoons so you'll have enough for dessert. Register for butter knifes, steak knives, fish forks, and serving pieces, too.
Glassware is sold by the piece. In addition to wine glasses and tumblers in various sizes, include extras like brandy snifters, beer mugs, and liqueur glasses. It's also a good idea to register for extra everyday wineglasses because these are frequently used items.
Entertaining pieces, such as trays, platters, and bowls, add color and interest to the table. In addition to ceramics, look for metals, wood, and glass, but make sure they do not clash with your china pattern.
Beautiful and practical kitchenware -- ranging from pots and pans to bakeware, knives, and small appliances -- will be essential in your new home. In addition to a basic set of well-crafted pots and pans that includes a saucepan, saute pan, stockpot, skillet, omelet pan, and perhaps a wok or Dutch oven, consider adding cookie sheets, cake and pie pans, and muffin tins to your registry if you are a baker. If you plan to entertain during the holidays, don't forget to include a roasting pan and rack as well as gratin dishes.
Look around the shop, and you'll also discover countless other essentials such as mixing bowls and cutting boards as well as small, inexpensive items, including can openers and measuring cups, which make excellent shower gifts.
A collection of linens for the table, the bed, and the bath is an important part of a new household. You can quickly change the tone of a table with the napkins and tablecloth alone. In addition to classic white or ivory, choose a few more distinctive sets that complement your everyday and formal tableware.
For each bedroom, register for two sets of sheets, plus pillows, blankets, a mattress pad, comforter, and bed skirt. Consider different sets for summer and winter.
For the master bath, register for four sets of towels, each including bath and hand towels and a washcloth, plus two bath mats. Choose two sets for each guest bathroom and perhaps delicate fingertip towels for the powder room.
Giftware and Accessories
Include giftware -- the vases, frames, pitchers, and candlesticks that make a house a home -- on your registry, as well. Adding these items, along with accessories such as desk sets, luggage, picnicware, allows guests to purchase something related to a shared interest or to purchase a single, special item rather than part of a 12-piece set.
Many shops with registries provide couples with a worksheet to help keep track of gift requests and will also provide updated versions of the registry online. So if you want to add or delete items, or if you've simply forgotten what's on the list, you'll be able to access your registry easily.