How To: Registry Pains

Here’s how to stock up on the best Philly has to offer — without the stress

I never thought I’d spend an hour agonizing over the color of a covered
casserole (raisin or sage?), but that’s just what happened a week ago when I was filling in some of the gaps in our Macy’s registry. This is the kind of thing my fiancé doesn’t get – I know I can expect his “Am I marrying a crazy woman?” look if I admit to being thrust into throes of indecision over tableware. What he doesn’t realize is that it actually makes perfect sense. “You have this great opportunity to have people buy you all these beautiful things, so you want to pick things that last a lifetime,” says Lynn Rosen, Philadelphia author of Elements of the Table and Dining and Culture correspondent on NPR’s A Chef’s Table. “Plus, you’re trying to anticipate how your lifestyle is going to change and whether these things will still be in style in 50 years.” See? No pressure. No pressure at all.

[sidebar]Where to Start
Barry Terris, co-owner of Center City’s Manor Home and Gifts, has recently seen an increase in the  number of organized brides who march in to register armed with wish lists and photos printed from Manor’s website – and that’s a good thing. To start, spend time before you hit stores jotting down lists of what you need and taking note of your style as a couple. “Try to be realistic,” says Rosen. “You may have a vision of yourself presiding over a table set with fancy china, but ask yourself if that vision is real.”

Manayunk bride Shannon Collins and her fiancé, Josh, prepared to register by looking in their cupboards and seeing what they needed, says Shannon: “Silverware that wasn’t from the Dollar Tree and glasses that didn’t have Ninja Turtles on them.” They also needed dinnerware to replace their mismatched thrift-store finds – but not fine china, since their lifestyle is far from fancy. “We wanted to make our everyday surroundings mesh with our personalities 100 percent,” says Shannon.  They registered for one set of china (Lenox’s Chirp pattern) that’s versatile enough to be used every day and dressed up for fancier occasions.

Bipartisan patterns like this one are growing in popularity. At Scarlett Alley in Old City, lots of brides choose Mariposa’s String of Pearls pattern in white as their only set. And at Manor Home and Gifts, both Juliska’s Berry and Thread collection and the pewter-rimmed dinnerware by Match are extremely popular for those who don’t want to register for two sets. But whether you’re a one – or two-set couple, everyone agrees that china is the best entry point for registering. “It makes the biggest statement,” says Liz Scarlett, owner of Scarlett Alley. “And it’s less overwhelming to start with one thing.”