Back when I was trying to gather wedding registry ideas eleven years ago (ELEVEN! YEARS!), I remember being… well, frankly, really confused. What on earth should we put on our registry? What would we really use? Why were the list of best wedding registry items so boring? So in the end, we focused on two things: basics and classics. I figured that we needed to make sure we had plates that would last for the rest of our lives (which was smart). But beyond that, I figured we should just keep it simple. Trends change, and I didn’t want to be stuck with stuff that felt super dated. And while I do fully endorse keeping it simple when it comes to your day-to-day china, a decade into being married, I’ve decided I was wrong about the rest of it. In forcing myself to pick things that felt classic and timeless, I stopped myself from having fun. And I’m still very grateful that I got those classics (because they do stand the test of time). But it turns out I know my taste, and my taste hasn’t changed much since… well… high school. So I’ve spent the years since adding fun and personality to our table settings.
When my RISD-trained WASP grandmother with impeccable taste died almost five years ago, nobody else in my family was very interested in inheriting all of the dinnerware, serveware, and glassware she’d collected over the years. Since we were moving into a house with big closets and space for entertaining, it all landed at my house. (Poor me, right?) And as it turned out, my grandmother didn’t do basics. Instead, she did beautiful things. And that means I ended up with a tea set painted with beautiful Japanese fall maples, a cut-glass punch bowl with cut-glass cups in a variety of patterns, a beautiful green and gold patterned china set, and too many beautiful little things to count. (Lovely silver sugar bowl? Check.)
Becoming a Real Grown-up
Since then we’ve Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Passover, Sukkot, and pretty much everything else. It’s funny how adult hood happens slowly… and then all at once. And because we were past the panic and freak out of the first hosting, we started to step into our role as real adults in the family. Real adults who bring out the good china, and the cut glass, and the big serving dishes to host the big holiday meals. As we did that, I started to realize the gaps in our collection. We had beautiful interesting smaller pieces from my grandmother, but all the serveware I had picked was deadly boring (and dull AF is really not my jam).
But more than that, the only table linens we had registered for were white. With white napkins. And white plates. (Not to mention the tablecloth we’d gotten for our teeny-tiny apartment table doesn’t even fit our full-sized family table.) So a year or so ago, I decided to start collecting more things that would make me feel like an adult when I hosted meals. My hope is that by getting good table linens, I might actually work up the nerve to host real-life dinner parties. (My friend Jordan does dinner parties in a way that I always envy but have yet to emulate.)
When I was coming up with wedding registry ideas a decade ago, the traditions I’d want to create with my family never crossed my mind. We’re Jewish, and traditions are a foundational to how we create a Jewish home (and kid really really love traditions). And, no surprise, given my line of work, we really love holidays and celebrations in our house. (My kids will make a party for literally anything… those apples didn’t fall far from the tree.)
All of that means I’ve started to be really thoughtful about small traditions I can create for my kids throughout our weeks and our years. And I’ve done that with red napkins for Valentine’s Day breakfast, a beautiful Seder plate for Passover, and I now need to acquire floral plates for Sukkot and harvest plates for Shavuot. And given that my kids came into this world ready for a celebration—one on the Fourth of July, and one on Thanksgiving weekend—we’re always ready to make those holidays super special.
So, inspired by my grandmother and the lack of excitement in my own original registry, here is what I would register for today if I knew then what I know now. You’ll want to include a mix of price points on your registry, but don’t be afraid to include a few higher-priced items. You never know whose love language is gifting, or which of your friend groups is going to want to go in on a big group gift. So with that, here are my picks for beautiful serveware that is not at all basic, things to make holidays feel extra special, and a few other things to usher us into proper adulthood. (Because we did register for nice roller suitcases, and those legit have made our lives better ever since.)
Not Timeless, Beautiful
I’m in love with Kate Spade’s Birch Way collection. It’s not super cheap, but that’s fine, because I don’t need the whole set. I really want their sugar bowl and creamer to make my breakfast table a little more beautiful. (In fact, I’ve had these on Pinterest for years and am currently wondering why I haven’t bought them yet.) I’m really into mixing and matching on the dinner table—see: all of the beautiful cups and plates I inherited and want to use—so I’m also into the serving bowl. As it turns out, you can never have enough serving bowls.
I love anything minimal with a color pop. Bonus points if it’s a hidden color pop. This is a perfect bowl for serving sides, and I never have enough bowls for sides. This green matches with the Kate Spade (above) and my grandmothers china, so it’s a win.
I have learned over the years that I like anything I can ROYGBIV, because putting things in rainbow order is the most satisfying feeling there is. So I want these rainbow tapas bowls, so I can ROYGBIV them over and over for the rest of my life.
I’m clearly into lush botanicals right now, but it goes with all my grandmother’s stuff, so I’m not mad about it. This tray is perfect for serving things at brunch. Though as my grandmother taught me, life is short, so eat off your bone china whenever you feel like it.
Practical Wedding REgistry Ideas
I’m a tea drinker, but David makes himself drip coffee every morning. And somehow it never seems to not be on our counter. The one we have looks decent, but I’d like to kick it up a notch with something designed to be on display—and something that will always be clean, once you throw the coffee filter out and toss the mug in the sink.
So, trivets. Turns out those are a thing you really need, whenever you’re serving a decent-sized meal. (I’ve also learned that this is a deep seated part of my WASP heritage… WASPs love a trivet, and I’ve inherited many… but somehow never enough.) They also are one of those things you never think to register for, so you end up with something ugly, or plopping lovely serving dishes on towels. I’m on the hunt for more of them, because I am by heritage a WASP and we always want more trivets and these are striking. Here for marble and metal together. (I didn’t think to register for trivets, but you really should.)
The thing about trivets is you need lots of them (did I mention that?), and they must be mix and match to fit the WASP aesthetic. This ceramic trivet (that looks a little like wood at first glance) brings some minimalism to the table, which helps ground things when you have a lot of patterns in the mix.
And while we’re on trivets with metal accents, I’m deeply in love with these terrazzo, marble and copper ones. Mid-century, just like much of my Grandmother’s collection.
I love that this serving bowl has personality, but is also enough of a neutral that I can pair it with other wild patterns as a simpler note. It comes in a variety of colors, but I’m really feeling this blue-on-blue toned dish.
Remember how I said you can never have enough serving bowls? This is a universal rule, and should be on every wedding registry idea list ever made. And while I want some of my serving bowls to be beautiful ones to make my celebratory table a little lovelier, I also want some nice day-to-day bowls that still have a little extra visual interest. These do both, plus the set of four bowls hits all my size needs, and nests for easy storage.
Turns out, when you have little kids, they pick a lot of flowers for you. (And if you don’t have little kids, you should take a note from those love bugs and pick a lot of flowers for yourself.) I never seem to have enough small vases for those sweaty handfuls of flowers, and this vase is so lovely.
Make space for what you want in this world, and one of the things I want is more fresh flowers. These vases are simple and lovely, and looks nothing like the cheap vases that you get from the supermarket or bodega, that always seem to stick around.
And while we’re talking vases, over the years I have learned that you need one in all the sizes, including huge. The plum trees in my yard are in bloom, and this weekend I’m going to cut a few branches and put them in a giant vase. This one has a modernist origami look that I’m really digging.
What I hate more than anything is a salad that hasn’t been pre-mixed. So everything in my life got better when we got a proper salad bowl and started using it. We inherited one from my grandmother with a leaf shape, but I like to vary it up a little. And this wood-bottomed glass bowl is the kind of minimalism that I’m all over.
I’ve found that it’s really helpful to have a pitcher or two on hand, so we can easily refill water at more formal dinners or serve a bunch of kids some fresh lemonade on a hot summer day. This pitcher is a great version of a classic shape. It comes in white, which is nice to have around, but I’m big into black accents on all my home goods, so I like the modern feel of the slate version.
I like having a small pitcher on hand, for family celebratory breakfasts where I don’t feel like plopping a jug of milk on the table, but I also don’t need to serve an army. This beautiful blue pitcher is casual but impactful in a way I can really get behind.
Things like cutting boards tend to be… well… boring. These, however, are not. I love the colors and that they’re made from sustainable materials.
Wedding registry ideas to Make your Table Stand Out
As I mentioned, I’ve recently gotten really into table linens (again, that’s my grandmother speaking through me. We use placemats or table runners every day (it’s the cheater’s way to keep your table clean and your breakfast feeling impeccable), and I want more tablecloths for days we have a little something to celebrate. This rainbow pattern looks perfect for a pop of fun.
I strive for control in this messy painful world but having a nicely set table day to day. But the only way I’m going to make that happen regularly is by having products that make it easy. And that means good day to day table linens. And these Round Blush Placemats are minimal modern and perfect. (Bonus tip, buy two packs so you have enough when you lose one.)
Right now we have exactly one set of placemats, which means when they’re in the wash, we’re out of luck. They’re also cheap placemats, which I discovered shrink… and shrink and shrink and shrink. So it’s time to level up to a couple of sets of placemats, and these textured striped placemats in pink are just perfect.
I’m also rep hard for tablecloths (which are truly the best wedding registry idea), and have decided that having a linen table cloth is a marker of real adulthood… look, we all have our weird bench marks. I’m 40 and I somehow still don’t have one, but this simple linen one is really giving me effortless but stylish vibes. Perfect for a Sunday brunch, or Shabbat dinner.
Again, with the linen. And again and again! It looks beautiful, washes well, and looks better with time) I like to have table cloths for important occasions—and I want to use them more for Shabbat dinner. But a table runner lives on our table. A friend said that my breakfast table looks better than her dinner table, and I pointed out that it wasn’t because of hard work, it was because of a table runner and cloth napkins. (Because always cloth napkins.)
I have several of these Otomi Table Runners that I bought in Mexico. I try to buy them as close to the source (artesian) as possible. That means I don’t buy them from white American re-sellers. So I sourced these for you from an Etsy store based in Mexico, which is about as good as we can do without a passport. I have these in bright pink and black (black is my all time fav) and they live on our dining room table most of the year. The traditional version is multi-colored and I plan to add those to my collection one of these days.
Look, I know this is a whole lot of dollars, but that’s what wedding registries are for. This is the kind of table runner you put on the table for looks, and remove when you have say, goopy maple syrup on the table.
I grew up using only cloth napkins, and I run our house the same way. (WASP vibes run deep, what can I say?) While we have special sets of napkins for holidays, and white ones that stay white because we only use them for dinner parties, we also keep a bunch of everyday sets on hand. But the older I get, the more I like to make every day fancy by going beyond the plain white napkins. These napkins are perfect for every day, at least in my world.
No matter what holiday we’re celebrating at the moment, these gold brushed foil napkins are on deck to become her new celebration napkins. (Any list of wedding registry ideas should include things for small celebrations.)
These simple red striped napkins perfect for Valentines day, 4th of July, and any other holiday that needs a pop of red cheer.
Finding napkins that are not horrifically ugly or cheap feeling is a lot harder than you’d think. People who use cloth napkins everyday are pretty rare, so for those of us how do, we really have go dig for the good stuff. These beautiful blush napkins give me wholesome farmhouse breakfast vibes, without feeling shabby chic.
Wedding REgistry Ideas For Making Traditions & Memories
Movie night is a very, very big deal in my household, and I’m always into giving the kids a little more tradition, and helping them celebrate the every day… or once a week. So clearly I need this popcorn bowl set.
Wedding registry idea lists never include religious objects, but if you are religious, it can be a great time to get beautiful and meaningful ritual items. I get really excited when I see fresh, modern Judaica. Because there are two rules for Judaica: at least half the time it’s awful, and there are about three styles in existence, so take your pick. I need this beautiful color wash Seder Plate in my life badly.
On the same note, I’m always looking for a good pair of Shabbat candles, and they’re not easy to find. These deliver beautifully, in a way that lets me add ritual to our family life… and look really stylish while doing it.
I have a little boy who loves collecting treasures wherever he goes, and I recently realized that we needed a place to display both his treasures and family treasures… so they stay special and don’t become junk. I couldn’t afford this shelf from Ferm Living without saving up for it but it’s very high on my wish list right now. It’s perfect for displaying treasures. Right now those might be treasures leftover from your wedding day, and one day they might be the collection of heart-shaped rocks you find on special outings.
My kids have discovered breakfast in bed, and as we all predicted, they are INTO IT. But they’re currently bringing up breakfast on a cookie tray. So I know they would die over this breakfast in bed tray, and use it to make the Mother’s Day magic really happen. This one is stylish and collapsible. Double score.
My mom had these intensely beautiful woodland paper plates leftover from a birthday party when I was tiny, and on special days we got to eat grilled cheese sandwiches off them. Clearly they left an impression, because more than thirty years later I’m telling you about them. Sadly, they were paper, so at some point we used them all up. I want to have similar make-a-random-day-special plates for my kids, and these we can use and reuse. They’re also perfect for our Jewish floral dairy holiday of Shavuot.
Adulting, Leveled Up
A place for everything, and everything in its place. It’s the maximum I live and die by at home, and it’s not a bad one for your wedding registry ideas list. And having a letter holder is a key part of that. We’re currently using a toast rack that we got on our honeymoon (which I love). But this brass letter holder gives me vibes of my High WASP great-grandmother’s breakfast table with a modern twist, and I want it on mine.
You know how I said I never have enough serving bowls? Well, I somehow also never have enough clocks. And those wedding registry idea lists never suggest clocks. (Why is that?) I work hard to get us to step away from our cell phones when we’re at home, and that means we need good old-fashioned wall clocks. This marble one is shockingly reasonably priced, and I want it for my bathroom (because, the morning rush). But this affordable and simple one belongs in my kitchen.
My great-aunt has an excellent cloth napkin trick (because yes, WASPs are really into their cloth napkins). She has a variety of napkin rings, and she mismatches them. That way everyone in the family knows their napkin ring of the moment, so they can put their napkins and placemats on the sideboard after dinner, and pick out their own napkin in the morning at breakfast. (Because you can’t be washing them after every single use.) The problem is everyday napkin rings are not really in vogue right now, and I’ve been struggling to find styles I like. I adore these marble napkin rings though, so they’re going to join my collection soon.
David likes to buy ugly cheap kitchen towels from wherever he happens to be shopping at the moment, and I’m not here for it. Life is too short, and we hang our kitchen towels out to dry where we can see them, after all. I like to have a variety of patterns, from really simple to more elaborate, so I can pick whatever I’m in the mood for. The only problem with this floral towel is I might always be in the mood for it, and it will have to get washed. Again, kitchen towels don’t seem to be commonly included on wedding registry idea lists, but they should be.
I have learned that most effective way to eliminate bathroom mess is to have a place for the welter of toothbrushes and soap. I love the old-world feeling of this brass bathroom trio. They give your bathroom a sense of having been here forever, but you can still move them from house to house. The Victorians knew how to do some things right, and this is one of them.
I have this Parachute linen duvet (skip linen sheets, they feel like burlap, but their percale sheets are amazing.) Sheets never seem to make the wedding registry idea lists, but you should. Not just sheets, but high quality sheets you couldn’t buy for yourself.
One of my home goals is to get properly set up for houseguests. We don’t have a guest room, but we can still take care of the little things. And a bedside (or couchside) carafe for water is one of those super thoughtful details.
Bedside lamps are that thing that you think you don’t really need (there are enough different light sources in a bedroom right?) but in fact you really, really do. I read before bed, but I also read to my kids every night before bed. But still, my bedside lamp game is weak. This one is unusual and beautiful, and I love it. Plus it has a dimmer, which is just so clutch.
We did register for high-quality roller suitcases changed our lives, with the idea that we wanted to travel a lot. And we traveled so much that we wore them out. We replaced them with hard-sided suitcases that have made our lives even better. These suitcases are the best of both worlds (and you can get them in pink!).
David loses his key and wallet every other day, which makes me crazy, because if you just put them in the same place every day you wouldn’t lose them. Does he listen to me? No. So I’ve been meaning to get a catchall tray to remind him, and this one is perfect.
While I’m not always loving the Boy Scouts’ politics, I do really adore this soap dish. My kids are just starting to read, and I feel reminding them of the values I want them to live (while getting them to wash their hands) is never a bad thing.
Yup, it’s another trivet. I could legit make a wedding registry idea list that’s just trivets. It’s hard to have too many. But this one is a solid mix of fun and practical, with a list of seasonal fruits and veggies, in a seriously great design.
I feel like you should always put one dreamy big ask on your registry. It’s perfect for a group gift… or possibly your Nana’s loaded friend who you’ve never met and isn’t invited to the wedding, but loves her BFF. Interior design is my jam, but I’d love help from a pro to help me level up. As a wedding registry idea? Sign me up.
Have you registered or Started to receive gifts? What is your favorite thing so far? Are you already married? What would you register for today, if you could? Whats Are your very favorite wedding registry ideas?