Engagement season officially ended on Valentine’s Day, which means that wedding season is rapidly approaching. When I “polled the audience” in December, I was blown away by the number of y’all who want information about all things wedding related – tips on registering, planning the big day, throwing a shower, etc. Well, ask and you shall receive! To celebrate my forthcoming novel, which is all about weddings, I’m kicking off a series of bridal-themed content, starting today with my take on the essential tabletop/hostessing items to include on your registry. Below, I share my thoughts on everything from flatware to china and highlight some of my favorite brands and products. A few things to keep in mind:
- I suggest service for 10-12 for most of these categories, but ultimately that really depends on your individual needs.
- We all know I’m the last person to ask about kitchen equipment. For a great guide on all things “cookware,” check out the What’s Gaby Cooking resource list.
- Think holiday by holiday. What accessories and tabletop pieces will you need to host celebrations in your home? This includes more specialized items such as a gravy boat for Thanksgiving, Seder plate for Passover, etc. Look at a calendar, go through the year’s events, and think strategically about what you’ll need to set the table for the holidays you personally celebrate.
- Remember that when you register for your wedding, you’re not accumulating every single piece you’ll ever own! As your life evolves (and you eventually have more space), you’ll add pieces as you go. Don’t feel pressure to imagine that one day, you might need 15 serving trays. The goal now is to create a solid foundation.
Ok, y’all, let’s dive in! Please note that this post includes affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission from purchases made through them.
EVERYDAY DISHES – service for 10-12
It hardly needs stating that you should have white, neutral dishes for daily use. They’re also great for casual entertaining because it’s easy to dress them up with pretty linens, dessert plates, and interesting flatware (more on that below). One idea is to register for two sets: a first that’s classic and simple (such as Pottery Barn Great White or Target’s Coupe Dinnerware), and another that has some additional interest. Maybe it’s something with a square shape or organic vibe. Pretty details such as a scalloped or beaded rim, bamboo accent, or basketweave design are always fab. Juliska’s “Berry & Thread” is a classic. It’s nice to change it up, even in everyday life, and having a few sets of plates will keep your table designs feeling fresh.
One other note: register for some pretty dessert/salad plates. Layered on top of a white dinner plate, these are a great way to bring a pop of color or seasonal flare to your table, and they’re relatively small and easy to store. How pretty are these, these, and these?
Favorite Resources: Williams Sonoma, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Juliska, Vietri, Target, Crate & Barrel, Anthropologie
FLATWARE – service for 10-12 (silverware, steak knives, serving utensils)
If possible, register for two sets. An all-purpose, stainless steel set in a neutral shape is your basic building block. Robert Welch pieces at Williams Sonoma are wonderful because they’re chic enough to use on a formal table. I also suggest registering for a second, “fun” option: gold, bamboo, tortoise, wood…the list goes on. Having choices means that you’ll be more creative when setting the table.
Don’t forget a set of steak knives! Also be sure to register for the serving utensils that match your flatware. In fact, get a few sets (trust me, you’ll always need more serving spoons).
As for formal, sterling silver…of course, it’s nice to own. I have my grandmother’s and it’s a treasured heirloom. If it’s your thing, go for it. But I do think there are lots of options that negate the need for high-maintenance sterling. It’s lovely to have, but certainly not a requirement. Also remember that antique stores are a fantastic resource for finding sterling silverware sets at a decent price. And if you inherit it and need more pieces, Replacements, LTD is a great place to find things!
- Gold: West Elm, Amazon, CB2, Macy’s, Williams Sonoma
- Bamboo: Juliska, Pottery Barn
- Lucite: Chairish, Pottery Barn, Vietri
- Wood: Belk, Pottery Barn
- Horn/Tortoise: Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma
FINE CHINA (yes, you need it!) – service for 10-12
Clearly, I am a huge lover of all things traditional and that includes fine china. Even if you don’t use it frequently, I firmly believe that special place settings help to elevate holidays and celebrations, and these are the pieces that are meaningful to hand down (my wedding china is Herend Chinese Bouquet Blue). I also think we’re seeing a trend of mixing high/low these days, which is creating more opportunities to whip out the “good” stuff. Even if you’re having a casual dinner, setting up a pretty sweets buffet with china dessert plates is a fun way to end the evening.
Keep in mind that you DON’T have to get a full set in all the same pattern and color. It’s fun to combine a few different designs – this gives you more flexibility and you’re less likely to tire of what you own. Also remember that you don’t have to register for every piece under the sun. Unless you actually think you’ll use the dainty teacups, cachepots, and saucers, give them a skip and focus on the dishware.
I also recommend formal chargers – Anna Weatherly and Annieglass have great options (Annieglass gifted me these amazing chargers for my Christmas table). I love a layered look and chargers really help elevate a place setting. Plus, they can double as large dinner plates.
Favorite Resources: Herend, Bernardaud, Anna Weatherly, Annieglass, Hermes, Mottahedeh, and Royal Crown Derby are fabulous but pricey. Lenox, Wedgewood, and Twig New York have beautiful, more affordable options. Pillivuyt porcelain at Williams Sonoma is gorgeous and appropriate for both everyday and special occasions.
TABLE LINENS & PLACEMATS – these often come in sets of 4, so get at least 2 sets of each item
This is my weakness, so I say more is more! Having a supply of mix-and-match linens is the easiest way to make a table special. When registering, think about the colors and patterns that will complement your dishes and china. Your linens don’t have to be matchy-matchy; in fact, I think it’s more interesting to play with different patterns in a coordinated color scheme. This is Mrs. Southern Social, so I must advise that you have at least one set of monogrammed napkins! They instantly elevate a table.
Favorite Resources: India Amory, Amanda Lindroth, Pomegranate Inc, Sferra, Hibiscus Linens, Courtland & Co, Leotine Linens, Ellis Hill, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Serena & Lily, D’Ascoli
SERVING PIECES & CAKE STANDS – 6 serving platters and 4 serving bowls in various sizes, 1 cake stand
Stock up on white serving pieces in various shapes and sizes. Ina Garten always says that food looks best on white platters (she’s 100% correct), and you can find great options everywhere these days. Don’t be afraid to mix different shapes and designs – this keeps a food display interesting. Having everything in white unifies your collection even if one dish is round, one is square, one has a scalloped edge, etc. I suggest getting 6 trays/platters (2 large, 2 medium, 2 small) and 4 serving bowls (2 large, 2 medium).
A cake stands is a must for serving desserts and I also use them for cheese displays, hors d’oeuvre, and small, savory bites (example: this year’s Super Bowl). Get one in white ceramic/porcelain or clear glass/crystal to start.
If you’d like to add in some specialized pieces (i.e. something other than simple and white), I love the options at Beatriz Ball (paid partner; using these in an upcoming shoot), Annieglass (paid partner; see their platters on my Christmas table), Juliska, Vietri, Heath Ceramics, Serena & Lily, Home with Hechart (y’all love this set of bowls they gave me)…the list goes on!
Favorite Resources: Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, Target (esp. Threshold and Hearth & Hand), Beatriz Ball, Annieglass, Juliska, Vietri, Heath Ceramics, Serena & Lily, Home with Hechart
GLASSWARE – service for 10-12 (goblet, water glass, old fashioned/whiskey glass, stemless wine glass)
I find that choices about glassware really come down to personal preference. Are you an oenophile? Then you’ll want proper red and white wine glasses. Don’t love wine but are majorly into cocktails? Be sure to get martini glasses and high balls, and maybe just one all-purpose wine glass. Champagne lover? Bring on the flutes and the coupes! Again, this really depends on what you love to drink and serve.
In terms of the basics, I love an all-purpose goblet that I can use for wine, water, iced tea, etc. William Yeoward has fantastic options (obsessed with these and these), and there are similar pieces at Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. I find that old fashioned and whiskey glasses are great for cocktails as well as straight liquor – Simon Pearce has beautiful choices. I also love a dishwasher safe, stemless wine glass. Every brand and store has these now, from Target and CB2 to Riedel (tip: Riedel also does a line for Target that is full of fabulous pieces). These are great for midweek use, and never underestimate how nice it is to clean up from a party and NOT have to hand wash the glasses!
While most of my glassware is clear glass or crystal, it’s also fun to have a set in a pretty color that coordinates with your china and décor.
Favorite Resources: William Yeoward, Riedel, Riedel for Target, Simon Pearce, Estelle Colored Glass, Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, CB2, Williams Sonoma
These are the smaller pieces to keep in mind when you register:
- Ramekins – Use for dips, spreads, and food prep. I’d get a set of 6 to start.
- Cheese Board/Slate Cheese Tray – Boards can also be used to serve things like pizza (love etuHome).
- Cheese Knives
- Appetizer/Tapas Plates – You can also use these on the table to hold things like butter and cream cheese, or put under an open jar or ramekin to catch drips (love these).
- Appetizer Forks, Knives, and Spoons – For serving small bites or spreads.
- Pitcher – Can also use as a vase.
- Candlesticks – Molly Sohr just introduced me to the selection at Farmhouse Pottery, and I think West Elm has great choices, too.
- Napkin rings
- Vases – A pretty collection of bud vases makes it easy to arrange simple flowers, and they make a great centerpiece scattered down the middle of your table.
- Gravy Boat – You’ll need one for Thanksgiving!
- Melamine Plates and Serving Pieces – This is really for brides who love to entertain outdoors or by the pool. If that’s you, look for melamine lines from favorite brands such as Juliska, Vietri, etc.