Present Perfect

China and towels and sheets, oh my! Here’s how to get the wedding gifts you really want and truly need

0813-planning-perfect-platesPlan Before You Scan

There are no rules when it comes to registering, but before you grab a SKU gun and start loading up your wish list, Susan Bertelsen, group vice president of Macy’s wedding and gift registry, says it pays to do your homework: “Assess what you and your partner already own, what you need, and what could use an upgrade,” she says. “Think about how you live right now and how different that may be five years from now.” Are you Food Network fanatics? Register for pots, pans, cookbooks, and tools to hone your cooking skills. Hope to one day host Thanksgiving at your house? Select fine china and fancy serving pieces to entertain in style.


Ready, Set, Shop

• Register soon after he (or she) puts a ring on it, especially if you plan on having an engagement party and/or bridal shower.

• Create registries at two to four different retailers—more can make you look greedy. In addition to national chains (e.g., Williams-Sonoma or West Elm), don’t forget local stores like Alice Lane Home Collection, Hip & Humble, Orson Gygi, New Orientation, and Root’d.

• Choose more gifts than the number of guests you are inviting. According to Audrey Stavish, Bed, Bath & Beyond’s registry expert, a good rule of thumb is to select at least two gifts per guest (couples count as one).

• Include different gift types and price points. “Inexpensive gifts like measuring spoons, shower curtain liners, and soap dishes are great for guests on a budget,” says Mara Harwood of Salt Lake City’s Events by LMG. A few big-ticket items are OK, too. “Friends will often pool funds and purchase more expensive gifts as a group,” explains Sur La Table’s Eli Winkler.


Mind Your Manners

Registry etiquette rule no. 1: “Never list a bridal registry on a wedding invitation—it’s a total faux pas,” says Sean Bradley of Salt Lake City’s Tabula Rasa Social Stationers. Instead, include the registry on your shower invite. “The point of a shower is gifts; the point of a wedding is not,” explains Ann Jager of Salt Lake City’s Ann Elizabeth Custom Graphic Design and Printing Studio. If you insist on including registry info with your invitation ensemble, Jager recommends using an insert card; but a better option is to direct guests to a wedding website for additional details. Following the big day, send thank-you notes as soon as possible. “They should be hand-written, personally addressed, and mention the gift by name,” advises Bradley.


On the Table

Hot Plates: Register for fine china and casual dinnerware, plus coordinating flatware and glassware. “I always recommend my brides register for a nice set of china and crystal,” says Michelle Cousins of Michelle Leo Events. “These are expensive items that most couples are unlikely to purchase for themselves.” Melissa Crotty of Park City’s Root’d likes Juliska dishware for its variety and durability, while Jessica Bennett of Orem’s Alice Lane Home Collection favors Crate & Barrel’s dinnerware collections for their budget-friendly price tag and versatility. Typically, 8-12 place settings should cover your needs, but consider how many people you plan to entertain and how often.

Serve It Up: Complete your tabletop with linens, trays, platters, condiment dishes, hostess sets, and carving knives and boards. Crotty and Bennett also recommend a splurge-worthy vase or bowl that can be used for serving or centerpiece arrangements.



High Fives

The top five registry picks last year from two popular retailers:

Sur La Table

1. Sur La Table Pearl 16-piece Dinnerware Set
2. Breville Compact Smart Oven
3. Cuisinart 9-cup Food Processor
4. Sur La Table Platinum Professional Bakeware, 7-piece Set
5. All-Clad Stainless Roasting Pan with Rack and Lifters


1. KitchenAid Ultra Power Stand Mixer
2. Calphalon Hard Anodized Non-stick 10-piece Cookware Set
3. Dyson DC35 Digital Slim Multi Floor Vacuum
4. Giada De Laurentiis 7-inch Stainless Steel Mezzaluna Knife
5. Fieldcrest Luxury Bedding


Cook Things Up

Potpourri: Quality pots and pans will make all the difference in your cooking. Cover your bases with the following: saucepans (2- and 4-quart), skillets (10- and 12-inch, one non-stick), sauté pan, large pot, ceramic baker, casserole dish, and a roasting pan with a rack and steamer insert. Or pick a set, such as the Scanpan CSX 7-piece cookware set or Sur La Table’s hard anodized nonstick 10-piece set.

Slice It Up: Quality knives are a kitchen must-have. “I couldn’t live without my good set of knives,” says Crotty. “They’ll last you a very long time if you take care of them properly.” She recommends the Wüsthof Gourmet 12-piece block set.

Go-Go Gadgets: Stock up on helpful tools like a box grater, garlic press, tongs, stainless steel spoons, pepper mill, timer, ice cream scoop, peeler, measuring cups, can opener, and kitchen shears.


Outside the Gift Box

From travel funds to camping gear, it’s not uncommon for modern couples to forgo fine china in favor of non-traditional gifts. “Build a registry that matches your lifestyle—don’t just register for something because it is a traditional item,” says Sabrina Soto, HGTV designer and Target’s style expert for the home. If you go this route, though, consider registering for a few items to accommodate guests (like your great aunt Winnie) who may prefer purchasing, say, picture frames and stemware.

Honeymoon Fund: Harwood says honeymoon funds are ultra-popular with contemporary couples. Get donations for your dream vacay via a service like Traveler’s Joy or the Honeyfund, or set up an online registry at

First Home Fund: Financial registries that help fund the purchase of a couple’s first abode are becoming more common. Instead of asking for cold hard cash, register with an online service like,, or

Charitable Donations: If you already have a stocked household, ask guests to donate to your favorite local non-profit in place of gifts. Or support multiple charities with an online registry via or

Non-Trad Items: Love fine art? Get your collection off to a solid start by setting up a fine art registry at Gallery MAR in Park City. Love Utah’s great outdoors? Register at a local sporting goods store or adventure retailer like REI.


Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Sweet Dreams: “Make sure you have a nice place to sleep at night,” says Bennett. “Focus on a quality bed, mattress, and bedding.” Register for two bedding sets—sheets, duvet cover or quilt, pillowcases, and shams—and an additional bedding set per guest room. Crotty says when it comes to sheets, don’t skimp on your selection. “The higher the thread count, the softer the sheet,” she explains. She suggests sets by Matteo and Bella Notte.

Wash Up: Select towels and accessories for each bathroom. Pottery Barn’s Kendra R. Stewart recommends three towel sets—bath towel, hand towel, washcloth—per bathroom, plus a bath rug, coordinating shower curtain, and other accessories. Choose plush, absorbent towels, like Pottery Barn’s fluffy and fast-drying hydrocotton collection.

On the Floor: Bennett says every couple should include an 8×10 area rug in their registry. “It will define your furniture grouping, add your own twist on a space, and introduce some pattern and style in your home.”


Taste Makers

Three of our favorite local food bloggers share their kitchen must-haves:


“If you like to entertain, you can never have enough stylish platters. I find them on clearance racks at kitchen stores like Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma. Fun pitchers from Anthropologie are also nice for serving drinks.”

—Becky Rosenthal,
SLC Foodie,




“Register for a set of All-Clad stainless steel pans. I’ve cooked with many different types of pans, and these have improved my kitchen skills more than any cooking class or cookbook.”

—Heidi Larsen,
Foodie Crush,




“I don’t bake cookies without my Silpat baking mats from Orson Gygi in Salt Lake City. I love that I can use them over and over, and the cleanup is easy.”
—Maria Lichty
Two Peas and Their Pod,