Wedding Registry for Crystal 101

Setting a perfect table requires having the perfect crystal. Check here for all the info you need to begin.
Sherise Dorf
by Sherise Dorf

Whether you want to register for crystal or buy your own sometime after the wedding, you'll want to know a few key terms and tips.


Crystal quality can be judged quickly and easily: Look at it. If it's clear and brilliant, it's virtually perfect. The lesser the quality, the more flaws you'll see, including swirls, bubbles, and white chunks. Crystal contains lead, while plain glass does not -- the higher the lead content, the clearer the crystal will appear. Fine crystal is hand-blown and should be colorless. When tapped lightly, it should sound bell-like, unlike the flat note you hear when tapping glass.


When choosing a crystal pattern or style there is only one rule of thumb to keep in mind: "Two-to-one" adherents recommend that if two parts on your table are ornate, such as your china and crystal, then the third part, in this case flatware, should be simple. Crystal also follows this principle and is placed on the table in the two-to-one format -- two elaborate patterns and one understated style. Plain Crystal is just that: smooth glass with no decoration. If you're a minimalist, you'll probably choose this simply elegant crystal pattern. Cut Crystal features a pattern that can range from relatively simple to extravagantly ornate. Your preference depends on your taste. If you're an entertainer extraordinaire or long for the days of Edith Wharton, ornate cut crystal is for you. Banded Crystal has a gold or platinum rim. If you already have (or are registering for) metal-rimmed china, you may choose banded crystal, too. This crystal needs extra care, so read on for cleaning tips.

Stemware Pieces

It's up to you to choose pieces, but you'll likely want 8 to 12 water goblets and a set of varied wineglasses -- including white wineglasses and larger-bowled red wineglasses. Champagne flutes may not be put to use very often, but a pair of crystal toasting flutes is something wonderful to have on hand for celebratory moments. You may also want eight highballs, eight double old-fashioneds, and some specialty glasses like margarita and martini glasses.

Best Brands

Baccarat and Waterford are the cream of the crystal crop. Orrefors and Kosta Boda (both boast great colored crystal) rank high as well. If you want less pricey crystal, Mikasa makes cool, contemporary, and affordable pieces.

Cleaning Tips

  • Fine crystal should be hand-washed in moderately hot water and mild detergent.
  • Use a soft brush to gently clean the grooves in cut crystal.
  • Never wash or even rinse gold- or platinum-banded glasses in hot water or harsh soap -- the banding may wear off. Also avoid lemon-based dishwashing liquid (it's acidic).
  • Place a towel or rubber mat in the sink to prevent chipping if you happen to drop something (we all have butterfingers moments).
  • Dry as quickly as possible with a soft towel to avoid water spots.
  • Store glasses upright to protect rims (especially with banded crystal).
Up Next
  • Brides on wedding day
    How to Ask for Donations Instead of Wedding Gifts