A week before my 11th wedding anniversary, we were having breakfast with another couple, who were just about to celebrate their own first anniversary. I gestured at the glasses on our table. “We got these for our wedding! We put candles in them at the reception.” My husband turned to me, amazed. “Oh really? I had forgotten!” It is funny what 11 years of marriage, one home renovation, and two children will make you forget. And yet how much stays a constant, including — to my surprise — many of our wedding gifts.
I remember feeling so angsty about my wedding registry. We were both almost 30; we had the trappings of individual households. I already had my KitchenAid mixer. Did we really need to go through with this capitalistic wedding ritual? But the voices of tradition and generosity prevailed and we made a very small wedding registry, filled with the things that I thought would really stand the test of time: china, flatware, glasses, towels, sheets. To this day I’m so grateful for the people who helped us stock our house for living and for hospitality. It was a privilege to get gifts, and also to really need rather little.
More about my wedding: My homemade wedding cake, and the food we served for the meal
As my wedding anniversary breezes by (it’s TODAY!), another year in the books, it seemed a good time to look back on what we really have loved and used from our registry. The best gifts have been those that also helped us be more hospitable hosts.
The Wedding Gifts That Have Lasted
1. Very plain, very beautiful white china dinnerware.
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I really wanted “real” china, dinnerware that was classic but had an elegance and felt really beautiful in the hand. I ended up picking the Anna II line of bone china dinnerware, from Crate & Barrel. This now-discontinued china is, to me, still the platonic ideal of everyday china. The plates were classic and old-fashioned with wide rims. The teacups and saucers are practically perfect. And as simple, plain dishes, it’s easy to use everyday and not just reserve for special occasions.
We don’t stand on ceremony with it; we use these pieces every day. Nothing has chipped or discolored, and amazingly, almost all the pieces are intact. This set was, to me, quite expensive, and I felt a little embarrassed putting something like it on my registry. But I love the fact that so many people contributed to my set.
Buy it now: This was discontinued shortly after my wedding but Crate & Barrel’s Bennett rimmed china has a similar look, especially in the plates.
2. Classic, well-balanced flatware.
You guys, I was so picky about flatware. I want it to feel good in my hand, and balanced — not too starkly modern or sharp-edged. We ended up with the perfect set, Lenox Gorham Studio flatware. The forks and spoons are rounded and sit nicely in the fingers, and the bowls of the spoons are sensible and not ridiculously flat or too wide to put in your mouth comfortably. The knives have a heft you want. I adore our flatware and it’s held up well and stayed good-looking for years. It’s very reasonably priced too — if you need flatware you could do far worse than snapping up this whole set. And oh, I love the serving pieces too, which are super good looking and practical.
Buy it now: Lenox Gorham Studio flatware, $128 for 8 settings and serving pieces too.
3. The most classic French drinking glasses.
We registered for the classic French Duralex Picardie tumblers and also bought some on our own. These are made of tempered glass and are basically indestructible. We used what we had to hold tea-light beeswax candles at our reception (I did the flowers and table decor myself) and then they went into service in our home. They arefantastically flexible; I use them not just for water but for candles, mise en place, little servings of pudding, ice cream, holding a sponge by the sink. I think we’ve broken maybe two in all this time. (Although when they do break, they break spectacularly.)
Buy them now: Duralex glasses can be found in many places but I think the best price on the Picardie tumblers is at Amazon ($13 for 6 of the 5-ounce glasses).
4. One perfect white platter and one perfect white serving bowl.
The Anna II china pattern from Crate & Barrel also included a perfect platter and serving bowl. My friend Chris gifted us both pieces and I’ve used them constantly ever since. They look brand new; the beauty of this china is that it doesn’t scratch or discolor. I really think everyone needs at least one perfect platter and one perfect bowl.
Buy them now: Again, this line was discontinued shortly after my wedding, but this Wedgwood option is a good dupe for my serving bowl and this Wedgwood platter is a near-perfect match for mine.
5. Ultra-thin (but reasonably-priced) wine glasses.
Last but not least, we registered for wine glasses. We picked thin and really delicate wine glasses in red and white sizes from Crate & Barrel with a classic rounded belly and thin stem. I love them, but we’ve broken by now perhaps a third of them.
Buy some more durable ones now: Riedel O Cabernet/Merlot + Viognier/Chardonnay Stemless Wine Glasses, $90 for eight at Bed Bath & Beyond
And then here are the things that we received and no longer have:
- Crate & Barrel mixed linen and cotton sheets: These just didn’t last. They got holes quickly, which was disappointing. I stick with 100% linen now.
- Composter: An idealistic friend gave us an indoor composter we used for three years until it died.
- Various other kitchen pieces and tools that, while nice, just didn’t last more than a few years.
Did you have a wedding registry? What was on it?
More on wedding registries:
- I Didn’t Register for Formal Dinnerware and I Actually Regret It
- Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Registries
- The 10 Things Most Couples Are Adding to Their Wedding Registries These Days
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