Receiving Advice

Photo: Brad Paris

When should you register?
In those circles where engagement gifts are given, it’s good to do it as soon as the ring is on the finger. Otherwise, about six months beforehand.

Is there anything you can do to prepare?
Do a little feasting of the eyes so that you know what your taste is; a lot of times, day one, scene one, people haven’t got a clue.

What are couples registering for at Bergdorf?
We have the most beautiful things—not toasters and blenders, but things you would love to carry into your new life, like a copper double boiler with a porcelain base or a marble-topped cheese board with accompanying knives.

How many stores should you register with?
At least two, and if the guests are from out of town, someplace local, where one of the families is from.

Whom should you bring along for guidance?
Some couples bring five or six people; everybody has something to say and it can be no fun. Bring your mother or sister, someone close to you who knows your lifestyle. It’s too soon for a decorator, though. Way too soon.

A decorator! Do they really weigh in?
Oh, sure. And they can be a wonderful guide, but it’s just too soon. You don’t know how it’s going to go yet.

What can you expect guests to spend?
Usually there are two tiers: the friends of the couple and the friends of their parents. You want to accommodate everybody, so we usually start around $100 and work up.

Is putting lavish items on the list in poor taste?
I believe in having a couple of over-the-top things on every registry: a Lalique bowl, Saint Louis cut-crystal stemware. Last year, we had some terrific French shovels—literally, for digging a ditch—everybody wanted to register for them.

When should you send a thank-you note?
Immediately, because people want to know. Most of the calls we get are: “I never heard from so-and-so; I wonder if they got my gift.”

Do you ever play referee if a couple disagrees?
Yes, especially if they come from different backgrounds. I just remind them that they can always change their mind about their registry; the permanent thing is each other.

What makes an amazing wedding gift?
Practical but special. You can always buy the toaster, but you will never buy that beautiful vase or a set of china that makes your heart sing. It sounds corny, but when you take out those champagne glasses in twenty years and say, “We got these for our wedding,” it’s special.

Receiving Advice