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4 Fun Bridal Shower Ideas that You’ll Actually Enjoy

When was the last time you heard someone talking about a fun bridal shower?

Go on.

We’re waiting.

Yep, that’s what I thought. Although a sweet wedding tradition that celebrates the bride before the big day, many bridal showers center around the not-so-fascinating event of watching an adult open presents.

Yawn. However, as this post by Kellee Khalil demonstrates, there are plenty of ways to make a bridal shower fun for all. Getting ready to plan a shower for a bride in your life? Want to drop a gentle hint about a celebration you might enjoy having in your honor? Here are a few ways to spice up a blah bridal shower:

1. Have a couple’s shower.

Instead of a ladies-only event (save that for the bachelorette party), have a mixed crew to celebrate the couple. This will allow people to mix before the wedding who might not know each other well, particularly if the atmosphere is laid back.

2. Go outside.


A patio party is a great way to keep things causal and have a non-cheesy theme for the shower itself. Ask people to choose gifts that are fun and useful for outside entertaining (hint: check out their wedding registry to see if there are already items that fit the bill). Grill, make s’mores on a bonfire, play lawn games, and generally relax. Looking for an outdoor gift that’s out of the box? A unique planter instantly beautifies any porch or patio and is a sure winner with anyone who likes plants.

3. Celebrate a day in the life.

Another creative theme centers on celebrating “a day in the life” of the couple. Send out invitations with different times and ask guests to pick a gift appropriate for that hour of the day. Suddenly opening presents has moved beyond dishtowels. There’ll be mugs and waffle makers (morning), salad plates and planters (afternoon), cheese plates and wine glasses (evening), and, of course, some fun lingerie and bedding for the night!

spanish mugs

4. Have a cuisine-inspired theme.

Countries and their cuisine are another great bridal shower inspiration. Throw a Mexican-inspired, hacienda-style party or a chic French shower, though maybe not quite so over the top as we saw in Bridesmaids! (Warning, the clip below contains lots of swearing)

Decorate with your favorite Mexican ceramics to serve taquitos and delicious guacamole, adding a Piñata for a entertaining party game. The super original and functional platters and bowls by Gorky Gonzalez or Capelo would be great gifts for a Mexican-themed party. One of my personal go-to shower gifts is Gorky’s Tequila Shot Set. Pair it with a bottle of Patron and you have a gift that will be enjoyed for a long time to come.

Mexican ceramic serving platter

No matter the size or theme, think of the bridal shower as a relaxed event where the focus is on fun, not completing the wedding registry or stressing out. There’s plenty of time for that in the months ahead.

Gift image courtesy emily katherine may.

Picnic image courtesy Urban Hafner.

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The 6 Best Ways to Use Pinterest for Wedding Planning

A friend recently mentioned that she “had her entire wedding planned out on Pinterest,” though she’s not even engaged yet. It got me thinking about Pinterest, weddings, and how pinning has changed how people plan major events. As I quickly found out, I’m not alone.

umbrella wedding photosA look at the Pinterest wedding category shows everything from color palettes to table décor to wedding registries to venues, even when there’s no big day in sight. Just last year Amanda Roman’s boyfriend Ryan Leak planned their entire surprise wedding using her Pinterest board. He overheard when she said to a friend her dream was to be engaged and married in the same day (!!!), and he made it happen. Incredible.

Whether or not your wedding day is set, here are six ways to effectively use Pinterest when planning your wedding (and not let it take over).

  1. Check out boards and see the styles you like. Theme weddings, classically elegant weddings, quirky camping weddings, weddings on a budget, destination weddings… if you can think of it, there’s probably a wedding idea out there for it. Browsing though a variety of boards will let you see what appeals and what’s not right for you and your partner’s big day. Buzzfeed’s top 25 list of wedding Pinterest accounts is a great place to start.muppet wedding
  2. Pin broadly, then narrow down. When starting out, go wild. Pin everything that’s even vaguely appealing. Bridal Guide recommends this technique as a way to get inspiration you may not have encountered otherwise. After you’ve pinned your heart out (give it a few weeks), go back and look for patterns. Chances are you’ll have repeats of everything from colors to bouquet styles to favors, giving you some clear places to start crafting your event.rustic wedding table setting
  3. Pin with your partner. The wedding is for the two of you, so make sure you can both pin onto your boards. Initially keep the categories broad and see where ideas overlap.Bora Bora honeymoon idea
  4. Include a board for honeymoon ideas. You’ll both need something fun to look forward to after the big day.
  5. Include your own ideas. Pinterest is inspiring, but it doesn’t have everything. Upload photos of things that you like, like that window display or save the date card your friend recently sent.
  6. Create a finalized board that fits the mood of your wedding. When you’ve figured out colors, mood, and style, a board with this narrow focus (and fewer pins) will keep the entire event in perspective. Then, as Belle & Chic suggests, stop looking for inspiration and focus on making your wedding truly yours.

Italian Tuscan weddingHave Pinterest wedding boards you truly love? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Also check out our own wedding inspiration board for everything from dresses to cakes to wedding registry ideas and share your favorites.

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The Ultimate Registry Guide: 5 Things to Not Forget

So you’ve registered with your favorite stores for your upcoming wedding. You’ve figured out the big items that you’d love to receive and are ready to rock… right? Not quite yet. While kitchen appliances and bakeware are the most popular registry items, there are plenty of overlooked items that make great wedding gifts and may have been left off your registry.

Here are my top 5 forgotten things you might just want to include on your wedding registry.

  1. Quality sheets. We all know how important sleep is, so why not use your registry to improve the quality of sleep you get. Find a set in 100 percent Egyptian cotton or 100 percent pima french coffee bowlcotton (known as Suprima) with a 300 thread count minimum. A set (or two) of luxury sheets will have you luxuriating in hotel-worthy comfort. Extra pillow covers are always useful too, so don’t forget to add a few more of those to the list.
  2. Coffee or tea supplies. How do you caffeinate in the morning? French coffee bowls are a fun choice for a gift that’s small and versatile. Like French coffee mugs but bigger, coffee bowls work wonderfully for small servings of soup and cereal. Everyone can use another couple of mugs, particularly for when guests come by. A coffee maker, whether a quality French press or fancy espresso machine, and/or a capacious tea pot are other must-haves.green and white tea pot
  3. More plates and glasses. Even if you only think you need a place setting for eight people, remember that things do break. So ask for others to help you buy ceramics you’ll need in the future, replacing that favorite dish or bowl. No matter if you have a design that’s fine china or handmade ceramic, few designs are produced forever, so stocking up now will pay off in the future. The same is true for glassware, both regular and wine glasses.
  4. Organizers. A spice rack, storage containers, or shelf dividers are definitely items that will see daily use. Use this as an opportunity to streamline the design of your home organization. A quality trash can, set of recycling bins, or garage storage are other useful items that many homes could use.
  5. Home bar accessories. A good corkscrew, wine bottle stoppers, and wine rack are a must for anyone who loves to have a few bottles of wine always on hand. Quality bar tools like a cocktail shaker, muddler, bar spoon, or a good ice bucket make mixed drinks even better. The square ice cube trays are also ideal for anyone who’s looking to take their drinks up a notch; the ice takes longer to melt when it’s in a big square block. And no matter your drink of choice, coasters are another item you never have too many of.

cocktail shakerHave other items you think should be on wedding registries? Do you like to buy ceramics or other daily use items as wedding gifts? Have any items you left off your registry and wish you hadn’t, like French coffee bowls or specialized serving ware? Leave a comment below.

Polka dot bed image courtesy of browndresswithwhitedots via Pinterest.

Cocktail shaker image courtesy of lennox_mcdough.

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From Blue and White Planters to Rustic Pitchers: Our Favorite Registry Picks

I love working with couples on their registries, seeing how excited they get about picking out beautiful ceramics together and then hearing about how they use their pieces after the wedding. Couples like Bethany and Martin use their ceramics daily, whether it’s a vase holding fresh flowers on the kitchen table, a pottery wall planter gracing the back deck, or one of Richard Esteban’s playful polka dot bowls filled with yogurt for breakfast.

blue and white serving bowl
jennie's_gogoAlong the same line, I recently visited my cousin’s house and loved seeing the collection of colorful Gorky mugs and bowls (photo on the right) she received from her Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. She and her husband use these everyday, thinking of the friends who gave them and the event they celebrated — that’s what I consider the perfect wedding gift!

In recent blog posts, I’ve talked about ideas for where to register as well as unique gifts that people can give a special couple. Today I’m looking at registries from a slightly different angle, diving into the lists of some of the wonderful couples currently registered at Emilia Ceramics.

Sheena and Blake love blue and white as well as statement pieces with Tuscan charm. Their choices of serving platters and a wine bottle holder point to people who love to entertain. Blair and Christopher have a broad ceramic selection that ranges from big to small: an extra large casserole by Richard Esteban, long rooster platter by Gorky Gonzalez, intricate spoon rest, and even a colorful mini plate.

wine bottle holder
extra large casserole dishJen and Kristina love rustic white pieces from France and striped planters. The white pitcher below (sorry — it was one-of-a-kind and has already been purchased for them : ) and serving dishes contrast beautifully with the orange and yellow of their other favorite ceramics.

chalk white pitcher

Most registries contain serving pieces for entertaining – platters, pitchers, bowls – as well as practical statement pieces like vases and utensil holders. For those with a green thumb, a blue and white planter usually is on the list, and if the happy couple has any kind of yard, pottery wall planters as well. And pieces like the Amor platter are perfect for celebrating love. The range of big to small pieces also is perfect for helping guests pick the right gift for their price range.

blue and white planter

What ceramics do you think should be on every registry? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Why are Ginger Jars so Popular as Decor?

Ginger jars may seem like the latest decorating trend, but these ceramics are truly steeped in history. Ginger jars originally were a way to ship and store spices, herbs, oil, and, yes, ginger, in China. While their exact origins are shrouded in mystery, the vessel became popular during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC–207 BC), Imperial China’s first ruling dynasty. Ginger jars became widely popular in the West in the 19th century, though their purpose changed from a functional shipping vessel to a decorative one for fine homes.

Somewhere along the way, ginger jars also became popular in Mexican ceramics. The gentle curves and playful designs differentiate these tibores (their Mexican name) from their Asian counterparts. Today few people use ginger jars to store dry goods or spices, turning these ceramics into decorative elements throughout the home instead. Dina at Honey + Fitz loves their statement piece appeal, particularly with bold chevrons. Natasha at My Luscious Life recently recommended ginger jars as a way to add timeless elegance to a room; with the wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors available they remain a popular choice for decoration.

However, ginger jars can be more than just decorative. Just take ginger jar lamps as one example. I’ll admit it, I’m currently a little obsessed with the decorative possibilities of ceramic ginger jar lamps, given our new arrivals. But I’m definitely not alone! Small accent lamps or large ginger jar lamps are ideal for bedrooms, offices, and living rooms alike.

Ginger jars also function well as vases, anchoring large bouquets beautifully. Bridelicious recommends using ginger jars as blue and white wedding décor, which I think is a great way to incorporate some stylish history on the big day. Ginger jars also work well to store potentially unsightly items out in plain sight. For example, a friend has a large ginger jar in her entryway that keeps a collection of plastic bags handy for when she walks her dog. I’ve also seen ginger jars lining kitchen counters holding flours, sugar, and other dry goods with style, just as they have for hundreds of years. Some design never gets old I suppose.

No matter where you use your ginger jars, you are sure to enjoy the results. What’s your take on these historic ceramics? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Guest Blogger Bethany: Six Months Later with New Pottery

Martin and I got married this past May and it’s been quite the whirlwind before, during, and since. Our wedding was lovely, filled with laughter, family, and close friends. Getting to Iceland for the honeymoon was fraught with travel delays and missed flights but absolutely worth it in the end. And then we were back home, with a list of thank you notes to write and “normal” life to resume.

Of course, many of my favorite gifts came from our wedding registry at Emilia Ceramics. As I said in my earlier post, figuring out the mysteries of wedding registries was one of the more stressful aspects of getting married. Using the resulting French coffee bowls and other pieces of new pottery, however, is a breeze.

We threw a reception for our San Francisco friends in July and I was incredibly glad to have the platters and bowls for all the food. I think we incorporated almost every new piece of pottery we’d received for the meat, cheese, and desserts to accompany the champagne. The results looked just as good as they tasted and it was a great way to break in our new ceramics.

The best part though is having things we can use everyday. I see the polka dot bowls whenever I open the cabinet and they never fail to make me smile. These hold my yogurt in the morning, soup at lunch, and the occasional (ok, frequent) ice cream sundae as a reward for diligent studying. Even though I’m more of a tea drinker, I still like to use the French coffee bowls when I sit down to write. As a graduate student in English literature and part time writer and editor, having the perfect vessel for my beverage of choice makes all the difference. My favorite bowl has a few drips of glaze inside and they all have subtle variations in the glaze; I love it that each French coffee bowl is truly unique.

Even when we’re not entertaining, we also use the blue and white salad bowl made by Talavera Vazquez to hold fruit on the table. Other serving platters have made appearances at dinner parties and I’m looking forward to the holidays to have even more occasions to use them.

I dropped by the Emilia Ceramics pop-up shop in Palo Alto the other day (when Emily asked if I’d be willing to write a follow-up post) and I fell in love all over again with the polka dot mugs, espresso cups, and other pieces of new pottery on offer there. Even if we’re done with the wedding registry, I already have some ideas what will be on my Christmas list this year!

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Creating Your Wedding Registry: Tricks and Tips

Planning a wedding can be a very stressful time. Even after you choose the time and venue, the seemingly endless list of decisions and wedding ideas continues. What will your invitations look like? How will you decorate? What will people eat? Will there be dancing? Where will you register?Wedding celebration

The wedding registry choice is a tough one for many couples. You want to give your guests options, but not seem greedy. Several of my close friends have gotten married in the past few years and many of them were turned off by the “where to register” recommendations as well as the confusing etiquette surrounding the issue. Still, as a way of protecting yourself from a barrage of questions and worse, receiving tons of gifts you don’t actually want, wedding registries really should alleviate some of the wedding stress.

Getting ready to start the wedding registry process yourself (or know someone who is)?

Here are some tips for making the process streamlined and stress-free for everyone:

  • Make a list before deciding where to register. Sit down with your partner and discuss what things you actually want and need. Maybe you already have six sets of sheets between the two of you, but want a fluffy down duvet or even a new bed. Categorize items by room or type to give a sense of where your desires really lay before any shopping occurs. Ideally you’ll set up your registries 4-6 months before your wedding day, so start this process as soon as possible.
  • Choose a few accessible stores. With your list, figure out two or three stores that fit your needs best; managing ten registries is just asking for added stress! Big box stores and online retailors are popular choices because your guests can find gifts no matter where they live. Many let you set up a wedding registry online and then easily manage it without having to go into the store yourself. But online doesn’t have to equal just blah big box; more and more online stores offer wedding registries (including Emilia Ceramics) so you can still choose your favorite places to shop.
  • Make it personal. Speaking of online, there are websites now that let you create your own centralized wedding registry that draws on items you’ve found at places online. A great new website called Knack Registry is doing just that… stay tuned for Emilia Ceramics to partner with them soon!
  • Ask for what you actually like. Seriously – if you think that vase is ugly now, it’s likely to be even uglier to you in ten years (if you’ve not given it away by then).
  • Have a wide price range for gifts. It’s best to give your guests a wide array of options in terms of gifts. A few expensive items are fine, but strive for balance with more affordable options. For example, instead of a complete set of pots and pans, register for the same items individually to give greater flexibility.
  • Register for enough gifts. Again, options are important. Two to three items per guest can be a good metric, particularly if you have many items under $60 on your wedding registry. Remember, people like having options, and might go in together for expensive items or get you several smaller gifts.
  • Ship items to your house. Simplify what you have to keep track of at the wedding itself (especially if you’re going on your honeymoon directly afterwards) and ask guests to ship items directly to you before or after the ceremony. Many registries even let you put in one address for before the big day and another for after to ensure that gifts don’t go astray.

Have other wedding registry survival tips? Please share them by leaving a comment below.

Champagne image courtesy of siebe.

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Spoon Rest Lovers Unite!

It never would have occurred to me that there might be people who don’t like spoon rests. Just look at an Italian pottery spoon rest and you’ll understand my assumption. These ceramic pieces are a quick and easy way to add functional chic to the kitchen, whether it’s on the stove or countertop. What’s there not to love?

It seems that spoon rest lovers are in the majority, at least according to this unscientific survey by theKitchn. Apparently when talking about “useless” kitchen utensils they mentioned spoon rests and were surprised by the fervent response in support of this essential kitchen tool. While spoon rests can be made out of anything from Italian pottery to a bowl to a flattened wine bottle, I agree that they are an-often overlooked yet highly useful addition to any kitchen. The ideal spoon rest really depends on the cook using it — some enjoy a small, delicate Italian spoon rest, while others need a wider and more hefty Mexican spoon rest. For cooks who want a place to rest multiple spoons, ladles, and spatulas all at once, I recommend a flat ceramic plate. Whichever you choose, using a spoon rest is a simple and practical solution that will inject subtle style into your kitchen.

Curious, I decided to see if others shared my spoon rest love. Some folks on Chowhound listed them as one of the pieces that stays on countertops along with appliances like coffee makers, toasters, and cutting boards. No matter how novice or expert a chef, I think that everyone can use a place to put down a spoon/whisk/spatula where it won’t make more of a mess.

I’ve noticed that people often buy Italian pottery spoon rests as gifts. These pieces, along with Italian hand painted mugs, are good for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, and that holy grail of gift giving: weddings. Practical, functional, and stylish as well as portable, what is there not to love? The variety of designs also means that you can easily find the Italian pottery spoon rest that fits any personality: cherries, lemons, and abstract designs are just a few options that match the décor of any size kitchen space from tiny apartment to professional grade.

Italian hand painted mugs are another good gift choice for many of the same reasons – everyone can always use another mug for their morning coffee or other hot beverage of choice. Perhaps more versatile than pottery spoon rests, Italian hand painted mugs can also function as pen holders, desk organizers, and even a home for toothbrushes. And if you’re looking for the gift for the kitchen that has everything, why not give a matching set like the hand painted cherry pottery spoon rest and mugs? They’ll feel like they’ve stepped into Italy (and think of you) every time they look at the stove.

Spoon image courtesy of mynameisharsha.

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Adventures in Wedding Registries by Guest Blogger Bethany, Bride-to-Be

I’m getting married next month and it’s been quite an adventure. From finding the dress to deciding on invitations to picking a honeymoon destination (Iceland), weddings are a series of decisions that never seem to end up until the big day (and not even then!). In the midst of all this preparation are wedding registries. Do you just look at the knot.com? Pick your favorite stores? What should you even use a wedding registry for? These were all questions I had.

My fiancé Martin and I struggled with where to register for quite some time. We didn’t like the commercial feel of so many wedding-related details, particularly registries. The long list of “must have” items most big box stores present as essential to a wedding registry felt tacky and unnecessary. Since we’re both adults that live together, we already have things like towels, pots, and pans. With my huge family, however, some kind of wedding registry was needed to avoid question overload.

I’d gotten a great blue striped vase from Emilia Ceramics last year and was super excited to find out about their wedding registry option. It felt much better – we’re not people who use fine china, but do like to entertain. Working with Emily was super easy too. I got to shop online, Martin approved my choices (and added some more pieces), and soon we had a registry that was filled with unique ceramics instead of crystal and china that would just stay in boxes. With our tiny San Francisco apartment, we don’t really have room for things that we don’t actively use.

Visiting the pop-up shop in Palo Alto in January also helped with our selection process (and gave me lots of things to covet). I hadn’t realized how huge the gran taza really is or the scale of some of the vases. We also got super excited about the new French pieces with polka dots – they’re totally our style.

While we registered with two other places to give a variety of options for our friends and family around the country, working with Emily was by far the most positive experience. A certain department store (which will remain nameless) had people who said they couldn’t help us and were quite rude. Not a good first impression at all! The whole experience made us never want to go shopping again. Since then, I’ve heard a whole list of horror stories revolving around registries and am firmly convinced that where to register is just as important as other factors in the wedding (and one that carries its own particular kind of stress). My advice for anyone looking for where to register: go with places you like, keep it simple, and focus on what you really want or need (not what the sales clerks say you should have).

I’m being disciplined and not looking at what’s been purchased from any of my wedding registries, but I’m hoping to use our gorgeous new ceramics when we get back from our honeymoon next month. They’re definitely something that feels like the right way to remember such a special day.

Photos of Bethany and Martin courtesy of Quotidian Photography.