Registry: Heavy Metals

Navigating a registry list requires a combination of style and determination, but with cues from this season’s best trend—must-have metallics—browsing for potential presents can be smoother than your first dance.

Navigating a registry list requires a combination of style and sheer determination. Classic china or Vegas flash? Eight place settings or 12? Fancy flatware or casual cutlery? Decisions, decisions. With help from local gift gurus and this season’s best trend—must-have metallics—browsing for potential presents can be smoother than your first dance.

Metal has been making a shiny splash on the fashion runways at shows by designers Donna Karan, Derek Lam, and Vera Wang. Now that gold, silver, and bronze have transitioned into home accessories and tabletop designs, registries everywhere are brimming with bright metals.

Gold Rush
“All metals are hot,” says Panamai Manadee, owner of Boston’s Bliss Home. “Platinum has become a classic standby, but gold is really making a comeback in a refined, non-Dynasty way.” Eighties excess has given way to simpler gold and silver statements, says Manadee, like platinum-rimmed plates and the French champagne and rose-gold accent pieces from Jean Louis Coquet.

Natalie van Dijk Carpenter, co-owner of Lekker Unique Home Furnishings in Boston, agrees that metal, and particularly gold, has become a mainstay on wedding wish lists. “It’s all gold. Gold on platters, on glassware, on vases—it’s everywhere,” she says. “There has always been china with tiny gold rims. Now dinnerware companies are taking a chance and updating their plates for a more modern feel. They’re making the gold accents bigger and bolder.”

Tiffany & Co. includes several metallic items on its registry lists. “Gold is very popular, both in jewelry design and tableware,” says Allen Nissim, Tiffany’s Chestnut Hill director. He points to the store’s Palladium china, with its radiating gold and platinum pinstripes and handpainted gold rim.

Local artisans are going for the gold too, like Great Barrington ceramicist Michael Wainwright. “Almost all of my works include some sort of metallic element,” he says. His creative crafts and elegant tableware—black and gold crackle lampshades, gold- and -silver-accented pillows, platinum- and gold-colored photo frames—are available for registry at the Gifted Hand in Wellesley.

Basic Metals
Registry experts emphasize that gold and metallics work best as accents, with subtle finishes. In other words, beware of too much bling. “Most of the metals we’re seeing are not gleaming,” says Denise Teti, registry manager at Louis Boston. “They’re more matte and textured and show a lot of depth.”

Whether or not you want your housewares to shine, there are basic metal objects that Teti recommends every couple sign up for, such as a sharp set of stainless-steel knives and copper cooking utensils. The latter can serve many purposes, and often have brass or hammered-steel touches. “You can cook and serve with them, or put them on a display bar to add style to your kitchen,” Teti says. “Copper is functional and beautiful and will last your entire life.”

Stainless-steel silverware works for everyday use, and silver-plated or sterling-silver flatware is best for special occasions, says Kim Madden, bridal services manager at Reed & Barton in Taunton. She suggests brides register for silver-plated or polished-aluminum hollowware, such as an ice bucket with tongs, napkin rings, a chip-and-dip set, and a serving tray. And, of course, no newlyweds should be without a set of sterling-silver candlesticks.

Couples who prefer classic white-on-white dishes can add some glimmer to their table settings with Chilewich’s vinyl-aluminum and gold-tinted place mats from Bliss, or polished-aluminum bowls from Reed & Barton’s Bannister Collection.

Registry Rules
The silver lining of registering for metals is that the range of price points will give your guests options. “The registry sweet spot is usually somewhere between $75 and $250, depending on your social circle,” says Manadee. Younger couples can respect their friends’ budgets with affordable metal gifts such as those Chilewich place mats from Bliss ($13.95 each) and aluminum-and-walnut candlesticks from Reed & Barton ($81 for two). For guests with a little more to spend, ask for platinum-brushed Viennese dinner plates from Louis Boston ($85 each).

Though couples should stay sensitive to their guests’ incomes with a few affordable gifts, Madden says not to shy away from extremes. “A registry is your wish list,” she says. “You can put down more expensive items and friends can go in on a group present. Pricier items are often the whole point of a wish list.”

Most experts agree couples should register at two or three stores. “It depends on what a bride is looking for,” says Carpenter, “and whether she wants a formal store, or is looking for pots and pans.” She recommends creating wish lists at both kinds of shops, or having one main registry and a second one for custom-made creations.

Try to register at least six months before the wedding, says Manadee, particularly if there is a chance of having early engagement parties or bridal showers.