Some of us have an inherent eye for timeless style but, for the rest of us, the idea of building a beautiful, forever-worthy wedding registry can seem as daunting as the prospect of planning a wedding itself. You might be asking: What items are nice-to-haves, and what are need-to-haves? Is it better to focus on registering for beautiful gifts or practical, down-to-earth essentials? Where do you even begin?
To make the whole process easier, we enlisted the help of the editors at Vogue magazine, who created a wish list just for new wedding registrants at Williams-Sonoma. It’s full of exceptionally-crafted cookware, smart appliances, heirloom-worthy tabletop pieces and more. We asked Vogue.com’s Living Editor Virginia Van Zanten, who curated the wish list, for her sage advice on how to build a registry that’s both design-focused and down-to-earth.
It was a bit of both. Of course there were certain staples I had to add: Shun knives and Mauviel cookware, but I was also considering how each piece would look in our kitchen. I like pieces that can easily go from store to table. That are beautiful but are also workhorses. Fortunately, many heritage brands tend to be really well-made and also quite attractive. And I’m a firm believer—particularly when it comes to the kitchen—that an investment in quality is always wise.
Sometimes it seems like there’s a fine line between registering for statement pieces and registering for practical, everyday items. How would you suggest balancing the two?
Perhaps I’m a bit boring, but I’m a fan of focusing on the essentials first—a set of cookware and knives you’ll have forever, for example. But in the process of making that list of essentials you’ll inevitably come across some amazing pieces that you’re so smitten with that they become essentials. Always add those pieces. You might not use them as much as a sturdy cast iron skillet, but you’ll probably smile every time you do.
What’s your advice for selecting a china pattern (especially if you’ve never owned a set of fine china before)?
Picking just one china pattern for me is an impossibility. I like far too many to only use one. So I mix and match. I registered for 14 settings of a classic white, thin-walled, dishwasher safe china. Dishwasher safe makes it perfect for every day and a thin, delicate weight makes it feel formal enough to mix in with the vintage Royal Copenhagen and Herend patterns I’ve slowly been collecting.
The Vogue registry includes lots of copper, which seems to be making a bit of a comeback. What do you think it brings to the kitchen?
Copper may be continuing to have a moment in home decor, but I think good quality copper pieces in the kitchen never go out of style. Think about what your grandparents had hanging above the stove—probably copper. Or visit the beautiful and (once) functional kitchens at Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley—copper for days. It may take a bit more work to keep clean, but it’s beautiful and cooks very evenly.
What’s a common registry mistake that you notice?
The most common mistake I’ve seen among my friends is registering for things just because someone tells them that they should. One friend registered for fine china because her mother in law insisted. Not only did she not receive the full set (and she’s not inclined to complete it on her own) but she has yet to use the pieces once. Register for what you really want and will actually use.