The wedding registry has evolved over the years, morphing from the traditional categories of china, silver, and crystal to include opportunities to contribute to exotic honeymoons or donate to favorite charities. Still, there are certain timeless and essential elements a couple should consider asking for when preparing for a lifetime of entertaining together. Here, Nina Friend of New Orleans, Louisiana-based jewelry and tabletop retailer Friend & Company shares wedding registry recommendations for couples who wish to be well-equipped to host happy occasions, both big and small, for many years to come.

CHINA

Know the numbers. Though it may feel like overkill when you’re newly married, there will come a day when you’re entertaining lots of people—and you’ll want to be prepared. “I always recommend going with a formal 12-piece china place setting,” Friend says. “And even adding a few extra dinner plates in case of breakage, or if you’re serving buffet-style.” The exception: cups and saucers, which take up a lot of storage space. For those pieces, Friend says you can get away with only registering for eight sets.

Feel free to mix and match. “The trend used to be to have one cohesive look across your entire china pattern,” Friend says. “But today, the table is much more interesting if you mix and match your plates.” To create a beautiful and timeless combination, she recommends building from the bottom up by choosing a solid colored charger, going with a traditional gold-and-white dinner plate, and then adding in color with a more complicated patterned salad plate. “You can always change up your salad plates for seasons, or when the mood strikes you.”

Bridge the gap between formal and casual. When it comes to place settings, our culture is more casual than it’s been in decades past, but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice style. “I love it when brides register for an in-between line for their casual china, like Sasha Nicholas,” Friend notes. “It’s a wonderful monogrammed line that’s perfect for everyday use, but when you bring it to the dining room it adds interest to the formal china.”

GLASSWARE

Be strategic with your crystal selections. While you don’t have to register for water, red, white, and champagne glasses in fine crystal, you’ll still need a variety of vessels to suit your entertaining needs. “I recommend choosing more of a medium-sized stemmed glass that can serve as a red or white wine glass,” Friends says. For water, she prefers a tumbler instead of a stemmed glass. “There are lots of beautiful crystal tumblers that can double as bar glasses and are dressy enough for the table.”

Bring in color. Fans of color, rejoice: sparkle comes in many shades, and according to our expert, stemware is an excellent area in which to get creative. “If you want to enliven your table, think of incorporating a colored crystal wine glass,” Friend suggests. There are many beautiful options to choose from, and with candlelight, they look stunning.

Consider a silver goblet. An old-fashioned standard that still holds up today, the silver goblet is due for a comeback. Friend loves them because they bring another element and texture to the table, while tying in your flatware. They also do double duty, serving as lovely vessels for small posies.

LINENS

Personalize your linens. “In the South, monograms are still a big thing,” Friend shares. Adding a personal touch and a timeless quality, there is no better place to display your new monogram than through your table linens. Friend recommends working with Leontine Linens, another New Orleans institution, for all of your monogramming needs (a quick visit to their Instagram account will show why). She encourages couples to not be afraid of color, as it can make your table feel complete and add interest.

SERVING PIECES

Know the must-have utensils. Register for as many large serving spoons as you can—Friend assures you will always have a use for them—and be sure to register for both solid ones and some that are slotted. Don’t forget to add at least one serving fork for meat, as well as a smaller serving spoon for dressings and sauces.

Cover the entertaining essentials. Friend recommends registering for a mix of formal pieces in your china pattern and others that appeal to you. You’ll want a versatile oval platter in your pattern, plus a few other decorative platters to the mix, that can be used for your Thanksgiving turkey, to hold sushi during a dinner party, or serve a beautiful summer salad. Also, register for as many serving bowls in varying sizes as you can that will function as vegetable and salad bowls. A covered vegetable dish is also great for keeping things warm. Don’t forget a gravy boat—opt for silver or one in your pattern—and “Don’t just pull it out on Thanksgiving,” Friend adds. “It’s great for salad dressings and sauces.” Finally, register for one or two silver trays—you will use them constantly throughout the years.

Add a sentimental cake knife. This is one of Friend’s favorite items to give as a wedding gift. A current trend is to have it engraved with the wedding date, and then use the knife to cut the cake at the reception. “In my family, I engraved our knife with our children’s birth dates and used it to cut cake at all of their birthday parties,” Friend says. “It makes the piece come alive, take on special meaning, and even become a family heirloom.”

Incorporate glass elements. To keep your table from looking one-note, Friend likes to add in glass serveware pieces. Some of her favorite are by Annieglass; beautiful, complicated pieces with a gold or silver rim that are handcrafted in California. “They really make a table shine when mixed with pretty silver and china.”

ODDS AND ENDS

Enjoy versatility with a beautiful cake stand. Not to be solely used for dessert, a cake stand can hold a beautiful display of sweets or be used as décor. “The crystal domed stand by William Yeoward is gorgeous,” Friend says of the vessel that can be used for anything from displaying sweets to holding muffins to serving as a base for a floral arrangement. “This is an item that will be used for years to come.”

Think of mint julep cups as multi-purpose vessels. These enduring pieces will carry you through many a life stage, Friend says. In addition to being essential for a Derby party, they can also be used for any manner of cocktails, punch, or even wine. Perfect for holding flowers, they’re also the ideal shape for children’s hands.

Select something masculine. “Carving sets and well and tree platters for meat are always popular,” Friend reports. Also gaining in favor are horn steak knives and tumblers. These natural finishes add a handsome element to the mix, and can keep a table from looking overly feminine.

Opt for a champagne bucket. A beautiful champagne bucket will be utilized time and again, Friend says. It can of course hold a bottle of champagne, but it will also accommodate two bottles of wine, or serve as an ice bucket for your cocktail bar. For an extra personal touch, gift-givers can add a monogram.

Remember the candlesticks. Nothing makes a dinner table come alive like the glow of candlelight, Friend notes. Choose either beautiful silver candlesticks or pretty crystal, and consider registering for a variety of heights.

Pick a water pitcher. A water pitcher is a must-have item that you’ll reach for every time you entertain. Friend recommends selecting one that’s either silver plated or crystal.

Don’t forget flowers. Through the years, you will receive many bouquets, and a timeless vase will be a lovely go-to piece you’ll use over and over again. “William Yeoward has beautiful vases, some with clean lines and others with more intricate etching. You will have these for the rest of your life,” Friend says. She suggests registering for several different shapes and sizes so you’ll have options when decorating or entertaining, noting, “Flowers are the final element that finishes off a table and pulls it all together.”

Photograph by Sara Essex Bradley Photography. TSG Tip 302 from Nina Friend of Friend & Company in New Orleans, Louisiana. Friend & Company is featured in The Scout Guide New Orleans.