It’s such a wonderful time of the year to become engaged! If you have, then you’re already aware with the first flush of romantic fervor and excitement that there’s SO much to be done in such a short amount of time! Choosing the date, finding the perfect place for the reception, creating the perfect atmosphere with flowers and food, and in my mind, the most important choice of all, The Bridal Registry! I remember so many times when couples became engaged in our store moments after he bought the ring that she was just glancing shyly at! I’ve cried many happy tears, when years later, these same sweet girls, now young mothers, brought their new babies for me to hold when they came home for the holidays! I’ve always loved the fun of the bridal registry, watching our couples begin to create their lives together, listening to them talk about how they wanted to entertain their friends and families!
It was always such fun watching them when they saw our china room for the first time, laughing with excitement as they realized that their choices weren’t limited to just the few things that they had seen in department stores or magazines! A fine gift store will have beautiful china, crystal and silver from all around the world, and many pieces of gorgeous giftware that you won’t ever see in a “big box” store! It can be very confusing at that first glance, and I loved my role as navigator through the registry process, so that the gifts that our couples chose for themselves really reflected the two of them as well as the family that they would eventually create. Remember that the responsibility of maintaining your bridal registry is a gift for the store/s that you select and you should be treated with a lot of respect by the consultants who work there! Don’t register with a store if the sales help is unfriendly or if you are treated impatiently. They are going to become an extension of your family for a while and you’ll, need to be able to count on them to be patient, calm and caring, especially when the wedding date begins to seem too close for comfort! Make sure that the registry has a good return policy, so that you can take a few months to get settled into your new life without having to worry about being stuck with too many ice buckets or silver trays! Be sure to ask about the store policy for special ordering the pieces from your registry that aren’t in stock. Good stores will have a gift certificate that they will send before the gift is actually ordered for you, so that you can choose whether or not to keep it. If you are registering at more than one store, you’ll need to get a good journal to keep track of your gifts. This way, the stores you’ve chosen don’t have to deal with stocking and handling unnecessary merchandise, and you aren’t aggravated because you’ve received 3 Havilland gravy boats! Once you’ve been given a platter, or anything that you want only one of, please update the other registries quickly so that they can focus on selling all of the other lovely gifts that you want! Keeping pre-stamped thank you notes nearby and writing them as soon as you receive a gift or certificate guarantees that they’ll never become an unfinished chore!
Make sure that you understand what the policy and charges are for shipping your presents, as ideally you will want your gifts shipped as soon as the store receives them unless you have instructed otherwise. It is important to understand how they will handle any UPS tracking issues that they need to when a package is missing. Feel free to ask all of the questions that you need to, so that you understand how your registry will be handled. Fine specialty stores are usually very busy during the bridal season, and by being as specific as possible in the beginning, you will avoid any unnecessary problems down the road. Gift wrapping is usually complimentary, but if you are environmentally conscious and don’t wish to have your packages wrapped that’s okay too! Just make sure that the consultant that you’re working with lists ALL of your special requests on your registry so that they are not accidentally overlooked!
My last piece of practical advice is, PLEASE don’t make the mistake of choosing a store based only on heavily discounted price. The best stores offer wonderful service, knowledgeable help and the newest patterns! Please send your guests to the store that has willingly spent so much time and effort helping you select all of your beautiful gifts. The service that you are receiving from a wonderful store does come with a price tag but it’s really worth spending the extra percentage that you would be saving if you registered with one of the catalog discounters. Knowledgeable giftware consultants are expensive to hire but they are so important for guaranteeing the wonderful experience that you, your husband and grandchildren will appreciate for a lifetime!
The chances are far better with a specialty store that you’ll get the level of service that you desire. When something comes in broken, or isn’t quite right, a fine store will have the experience to handle the problem. Most will bend over backwards to deliver a package personally if a guest comes in at the last minute and says “Please, can’t you somehow get it to her today?” I can’t tell you how many rehearsal dinners I’ve taken gifts to, or how many times I ran to the engravers in the middle of the night to have something redone that wasn’t quite right and needed in the morning! Remember, you deserve the finest service that any store has to offer, but when a store has to compete with a large discounter for a sale, great service becomes too expensive for most specialty stores to provide. Because the process of planning an extraordinary wedding can be so frantic, this is one time when you’ll definitely want fantastic service!
Spend a lot of time enjoying the process of registering! It is important for you to be able to walk around with the plates and glasses in your hands, living with them for awhile. If you’re leaving the store after the first time without a clear decision, a good rule of thumb is that the first plate that you remember after you’ve left will be the pattern that has captivated you! Concentrate on choosing the dinner plate first, because if you think of the table as a blank canvas, the dinner plate will become the largest focal point in your painting! If you have them, bring swatches of fabric, pictures of your dining room or anything else that will help you convey the feeling that you desire. A great store will have consultants who know quite a lot about interior design, helping you to choose incredible combinations of color, style and texture that will allow you to create many different looks from your new set of dishes! For example, the stunning Old Imari pattern which is very formal/traditional and frequently coupled with antique sterling, can be dressed down to an almost contemporary level for an exotic Japanese dinner by using a gilded straw placemat, chopsticks and glassware whose design mirrors the strong shapes that are found in the plate. After you’ve chosen the plate, have fun getting to know the many crystal patterns available, and finally choose silverware or stainless to complete your gorgeous table setting! Don’t worry about it if you fall in love with more than one crystal pattern, mix them together! If you love colored crystal, it can be mixed with clear crystal to create an enchanting effect!
Remember to select a gorgeous pair of candlesticks for your table because mixtures of cut and simple crystal as well as different combinations of flatware are at their loveliest by candlelight! Don’t hesitate to ask the consultant if you can take your patterns home overnight, so that you can get to know them for a bit without distraction. Most stores will happily let you do this, with the agreement that they are returned unharmed the next day. After you’ve completed your registry, all that’s left to do is wait with happy anticipation for the first gifts to arrive, and once your wedding day has come and gone, the two of you can spend many quiet romantic dinners together , mixing new traditions with the old , creating the perfect blend of family!
I’m wishing you a wonderful life together filled with all of the joy and breathlessness that a great marriage can bring!
Picture of Wedgwood Anthenium courtesy of Wedgewood UK
Freelance Writer, Herbalist, Aromatherapist, Lover of all things Fragrant and Beautiful, Lifestyle, Bridal Registry ~ Gifts and Tableware Consultant, Personal Shopper and Food Concierge!