Weddings Week 2011: an insider’s look at how to buy the perfect wedding gift

Weddings Week 2011: an insider’s look at how to buy the perfect wedding gift

Unless you want three fondue sets and two toasters, you need to register. Jackie Chiesa, a 30-year veteran at William Ashley with impeccable taste and the tact of a diplomat, has helped hundreds of picky couples say “I do” to the right dinnerware

(Image: Vanessa Heins)

Best part of the job: I get to attend merchan­dise shows in Milan and Paris, which is pretty great, but it’s working with excited young couples that I love the most. The experience of registering at Ashley can be overwhelming—it’s 24,000 square feet of stuff. My job is to navigate the hundreds of options and collec­tions to help couples choose pieces they’ll truly enjoy.

And the worst: When couples are bickering, I just step away and give them a moment. If the groom wants bold patterns and the bride wants basic white, that’s going to require some figuring out. But there is always a way to combine two aesthetics.

What every couple should know: If you’re not going to use fancy china and Waterford crystal, don’t get it. I always encourage couples to choose things they will use frequently. If something is going to sit in your cabinet collecting dust, what’s the point of registering for it?

Professional philosophy: The dinnerware sets the tone for the rest of the table setting. It’s like the gown. Obviously you wouldn’t start picking out the shoes and jewellery before settling on the dress.

Current trends: Right now, the platinum band dinnerware is our most popular. Most major manufacturers are making a version of the design. Classic white is also big. Food can look so stunning against a plain white backdrop.

Biggest misconception: I don’t know where everyone gets the idea that china is so delicate. Most of our collections are incredibly durable. And, yes, they go in the dishwasher.

Biggest change: Brides and grooms tend to register together now. When I started with registries, there were a lot more daughters coming in with their mothers. At that time, the girls getting married were still living in their parents’ houses, so their moms would be there to advise on the essentials. Now men really get into the experience.

Some traditions never die: Believe it or not, people still register for gravy boats, though I always call them sauce boats to underline the fact that they work for so many things other than gravy—béarnaise, cheese and dessert sauces. They’re a surprisingly useful accessory to have around.

Horror story: I honestly don’t have any. In all the years I’ve been registering couples, I have not even so much as broken a single piece of china.

For more information on how to make a wedding perfect, see our Weddings Week 2011 coverage