Recently I had an interesting opportunity to work with beautiful Miss USA, Erin Brady, whose reign is coming to an end this summer to design her wedding registry. Erin and her fiancé are getting married this year. A properly designed registry is an excellent and effective instrument to let guests know what exactly you would like and appreciate as your wedding gifts. And of course, this is also your chance to get some really interesting and special pieces which you can keep in your family for generations and otherwise would probably never buy.
Bernardaud, the leading luxury French porcelain manufacturer since the 18th century graciously welcomed Erin and me into its flagship showroom on Park Avenue and East 59th Street and collaborated with us by displaying all of their fantastic porcelain collections in one location. We are very appreciative of their consideration and participation.
When designing a wedding registry it is important to plan meticulously. Erin and I met prior to visiting the Bernardaud showroom and discussed her style and entertainment preferences, as well as the anticipated location of the newlyweds' residence. Establishing at least those aspects will save time and eliminate costly mistakes. It is also important to know your guests and design the registry which will offer an opportunity for all to participate.
There are a few things you have to ask yourself before designing a registry. First, it is important to estimate the size of the family or friends you might host so that you can correctly order the amount of china and serving pieces. Depending on a budget, you can start with an 8-piece place setting and add some serving dishes and expand later as needed. What's great about Bernardaud is that the designs are truly timeless and they stay in production for a long time, so you can always add to your collection or replace broken pieces.
Here are the basics you will need:
- Dinner plates
- Salad plates
- Soup/Pasta bowls
- Bread & Butter (optional)
- Teacups & saucers
- A couple of serving pieces (optional).
When creating a list of china for your registry, think seasonality and versatility. Choose a light colored palette such as lavender, light green or periwinkle blue for your Spring/ Summer collection to celebrate the warm weather holidays like Easter, Mother's Day, or simply first day of summer and deep, rich-colored collection in burgundies, burnt orange, rose gold, chocolate brown or any other color that strikes your fancy to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas in style! Here are the ideas that were presented to Erin.
Erin shared with me that she likes to entertain in the fall and I couldn't agree more. Very warm rich colors, reds, wood tones, dark cherry are Erin's favorite. There is just something so warm and inviting about entertaining in autumn -- a hearty meal, full-bodied wine and great conversations at the table. If that's your favorite month as well, select the plates to showcase all the gorgeous colors autumn has to offer.
My goal was to put together a very elegant but yet traditional fall set for Erin that she can use for years to come. I generally love mixing high and low but for this setting we went all the way. We chose intricately designed porcelain salad plates with the gilded fan pattern to create some dining table drama and I layered the setting with simpler gold-rimmed dinner plates in white and a burgundy charger which really helped to define the color palette and further emphasized the delicate design.
Don't get discouraged by the hefty price tag of the salad plates, you just need enough to mix with the more affordable white dinner plates with golden rim from Parmyre collection. And as a base I used Opaline charger in Black Tulip (burgundy color). Think seasonal when it comes to flowers, it saves costs and adds to the richness of the table. As a vase I used Bernardaud's candle votive in gold but you can easily re-purpose some objects from your household, there are no rules, everything will work.
Change your tablescape with the season. When I think about spring entertainment, the bright colors, seasonal flowers and produce, light, colorful dishes packed with seasonal ingredients come to mind. Apply the same concept when choosing your Spring/Summer set. For Erin, I created this very feminine, sophisticated setting with three collections mixed together.
As the foundation I used Bernardaud's Frivole collection with its sprawling light green leaf design and imaginative amethyst pattern which is daringly original and faintly feminine. But to make this setting even more interesting and give the bride more options in the future for adding to her existing collection, I used Constant dinner plate with its modern interpretation of the Empire style and decorations of traditional acorns, oak and laurel leaves which provided the creative contrast for this setting.
The result was an elegant, delicately sophisticated, spring inspired table décor; one that your guests would be impressed by and absolutely in love with! As a base- Opaline charger in heather color.
Spring flowers like lilacs, peonies, roses and tulips pick all those colors from the plates and compliment the setting in unison.
White plates go with everything, you can dress them up or down, add color, texture, bring antique elements. And let's admit- the food does look better on white canvas! For this table setting, I mixed two modern white collections, both resembling water.
I picked Bulle collection for the charger and the salad plate due to its truly unique design. The salad plate has been crafted to resemble a rain droplet bouncing back off the water surface and the charger has an opposite effect, the droplet striking the water with the concentric ripples of water expanding outward.
To stay a little playful with this setting I added an all-time brides' favorite Ecume White collection as a dinner plate. Ecume translates as sea foam which is depicted by the masterfully refined enamel work on the white borders of the plate.
Decorate the table with fresh herbs; I used a water goblet in amethyst color to display the fragrant oregano, mint and thyme. And purple napkin to create a contrast for the setting.
Erin is particularly fond of modern style and for that I assembled this beautiful gold leaf incrusted setting. There are two collections combined, the gorgeous Feuille D'or or Gold Leaf from which I used the charger and the salad plate as the base of the setting and Fusion, a rectangular radiant white porcelain plate to add the modernity. The two geometrical shapes- rectangular and round work so well together to create a setting that would fit in wonderfully in any modern décor and yet has that element of timelessness that will endure for years to come. This table setting with silver or golden leaf embellishment will be perfect to celebrate a stylish cocktail party or your first anniversary at home. This setting will look beautiful in a New York City apartment and later can be easily transitioned into a suburban home.
As a simple, no-fuss yet striking floral display, use orchids. Cut each individual orchid bud and place it in the clear glass with a little bit of water on the bottom and place your arrangements sporadically along the table for some beautiful effect.
Tips and Advice:
- Staying relaxed as the hostess is the key to success. Relax and enjoy the time with your friends and family
- Create an ambiance
- Get organized
- Plan ahead
- Set up your table the night before
- Everyone looks better with the candlelight
Photographed by Gary Flom
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