Entertaining Essentials

Whether you love hosting big soirées or entertaining just a few, these registry items will add function and flair to your table.

By Courtney Toomey

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes entertaining. For most newlyweds, when the party ends at the reception hall, it is just beginning at home. During the first couple months of marriage, many honeymooning couples start fielding questions from family and friends asking if they will host the next holiday dinner or throw a housewarming party. So being prepared is important. One surefire way to guarantee the cabinets are stocked and the table set appropriately is to register for the must-have entertaining essentials that every couple needs.

Kathy McTigue, director of The Registry at Bloomingdale’s, suggests that couples have fun with their bridal registry but also select items with the long term in mind. “We encourage couples to take their time as they register and select things that they really love,” says McTigue. “They should not be heavily influenced by suggestions from family and friends and should focus on planning their future together.  Couples should also keep in mind that their lifestyle will change as will their needs.”

The Registry at Bloomingdale’s offers a special experience for soon-to-be brides and grooms, from a personal registry consultant and exclusive savings to honeymoon perks, free monogramming and more. McTigue believes these extras can be extremely helpful. “Many couples find building their registry overwhelming, which is why we have consultants dedicated to registry and true specialists in the area.”

The Nambe Yaro Salad Bowl, made of acacia wood, with coordinating servers, adds warmth to any table setting.

The Nambe Yaro Salad Bowl, made of acacia wood, with coordinating servers, adds warmth to any table setting.

Once the bride and groom shake out their registry jitters, the fun can begin. While the couple ultimately runs the show, their consultant is there every step of the way to offer expert guidance, professional opinions and nerve-calming advice. For the couple that hosts family and friends often, McTigue firmly believes that entertaining starts with great tableware. “It’s best to start with the serving pieces that guests will see. These should reflect the tastes and lifestyle of the couple, from the cheeseboard, chip and dip trays and hors d’oeuvre plates to the glassware,” she explains. “Once we understand the couple’s sense of aesthetics and style of entertaining, we can suggest the best items for them, such as varietal-specific wine glasses for the wine connoisseur or a mandolin for an experienced cook.”

However, couples who are not entertaining pros don’t get left out in the cold. While the majority of brides and grooms instinctively register for kitchen essentials designed for meal preparation, the consultants also suggest focusing on the presentation part of entertaining. “Often they have not been preparing meals for more than two people so they may not realize how many serving pieces they will need,” McTigue points out, adding, “We like to encourage them to think of their table as a wardrobe, where they can mix patterns and textures to present a more eclectic table that reflects their personal style. Of course, a beautiful pitcher, unique salt and pepper shakers and condiment dishes can really add flair.”

 This classic Kate Spade porcelain dish set in blue and white is perfect for mixing and matching your dinnerware.

This classic Kate Spade porcelain dish set in blue and white is perfect for mixing and matching your dinnerware.

If an engaged couple is still searching for registry suggestions after working with a consultant, McTigue suggests adding these popular items to their list. “At Bloomingdale’s, china and crystal continue to be must-haves on most registries—even if the couple will be living in a smaller city space with a single set of dinnerware,” she says. “A set of cookware and small appliances for their kitchen, along with some decorative vases, frames, bowls, etc., are almost always present. After all, many friends and family members will want to see their gift in the couple’s home.”

While every couple wants to make their loved ones happy, the most important thing they can remember when setting up a registry is to follow their own personal style. “Couples should keep thinking about their future needs to be sure that this opportunity helps their friends and family members provide lasting memories,” says McTigue. “While they should take advice from those with more experience, in the end, their registry choices need to be their own as they embark upon the adventure of creating a new home and life together.”

While creating a bridal registry can be an overwhelming process, couples should take this experience in stride. Being prepared, having a sense of personal panache and selecting both basics and out-of-the-box items will ensure every gift has a part in making memories that last a lifetime.

As a native of South Coast Mass., Jen knows southern New England well but is never surprised when she discovers a new favorite destination. An English major who has worked in publishing as an editor and freelance writer for over 15 years, she enjoys interviewing, writing and especially blogging for Southern New England Weddings (because weddings are endlessly pretty and inspiring!). She lives in Rochester, Mass., with her husband and two young daughters.

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