What to Put On (and Leave Off) Your Wedding Registry
In a perfect world, everyone would give you cash for your wedding. Depending on the background and traditions of your guests, however, there is a very good chance that there will be at least a few people who prefer to give a gift. In fact, when I go to weddings, I prefer to give a gift so that people can’t put a monetary value on my good wishes. Having a lot of good choices on your wedding registry helps to prevent receiving four pairs of hideous salad tongs, and it’s a great opportunity to get those big-ticket items that will serve you for years to come. (See also: Alternative Wedding Registry Ideas)
These are items most of us can’t afford to purchase all at once, such as cutlery and tableware, as well as nice things every household should have, but that are often low on the need-to-buy-list, such as luggage.
Classic (White) Dishes
A complete set of quality dishes is expensive, and your wedding is your one chance to get a full and complete dinner setting.
Register for high-quality white dishes that will stand the test of time and won’t look dated in a few years (you can always add colorful accent plates). For the best bang for your guests’ buck, register for a quality set of everyday dinnerware instead of a fancy set of fine china that you’ll only use a few times a year. The wedding gift I use the most is a set of white Villeroy & Boch dinnerware given to me by my mother-in-law. It is sturdy enough for everyday use yet pretty enough for fancy dinners.
Sure, you’ve done fine using your set of IKEA flatware for the past few years, but your wedding is your chance to get something a bit higher quality for all those fancy dinner parties you’ll be hosting. You’ll probably never find a reason to splurge on top-quality flatware again, so put some thought into the set you add to your registry. Go for something dishwasher safe and sturdy, in a clean and classic design.
Oven-to-Table-to-Freezer Casserole Set
In your life as a married person, you’ll probably be toting casseroles to a lot of potlucks and game nights, so add a set of casserole dishes to your registry. These handy lidded containers can go from the oven to the table and straight to the fridge or freezer. Whether you choose Pyrex, Corningware, or something a little fancier, this set of casseroles will be useful for years to come.
Open Stock Pots and Pans
Forget the 10-piece sets of cookware that come in a huge box. Chances are that the quality of each piece won’t be the highest, and you’ll get far more cookware than you need.
Instead, register for a couple frying pans (a 10-inch and a 12-inch), a medium saucepan, and a large pot for soups and stews. Choose them based on functionality instead of how well they match. For example, the most-used pots in my kitchen are my 5.5-quart enameled cast-iron Le Creuset pot, a medium stainless steel saucepan, and a couple of nonstick, anodized aluminum, ceramic coated frying pans. Think about how you like to cook, and register accordingly.
Again, forgo the box set and choose a solidly made, quality forged chef’s knife. This is your chance to get a Wusthof or a Shun, so be sure to add it to your list. You can always buy cheaper paring knives and steak knives later, but be sure to add the knife of a lifetime to your registry.
My husband and I never splurge on sheets for ourselves — most of our sheet sets are from TJ Maxx or Ikea — but we still love the quality set of sheets we received for our wedding. They cost $100 for a queen set but four years later, they are still the softest sheets we own. So while you wouldn’t necessarily spend a lot on sheets for yourself, you might want to put a good set on the registry.
A blender, a hand mixer, a kettle, a slow cooker, and a coffee maker are all mid-priced appliances that guests appreciate seeing on a registry, and they are all kitchen essentials.
Quality luggage costs a pretty penny, but will save you so many headaches when rolling them to and fro in airports. Have you ever tried to roll a cheap, 50-pound suitcase with broken wheels on the subway? I have, and I don’t care to repeat the experience.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, consider registering for gear that will help you make family memories. Register for a nice spacious tent and a couple warm sleeping bags so you can camp in style.
Even if you aren’t the handiest couple, a power drill, a couple of screwdrivers, a set of socket wrenches, and a hammer will come in handy when putting up your new bookshelves and your framed wedding photos.
Think Twice About…
Think twice about gifts that you may not need, or have the space for, or are really just clutter.
Before registering for a stand mixer, think carefully. Yes, your wedding might be your best chance to get one of these expensive babies, but how essential is it?
A heavy stand mixer is most useful when you can leave it out on the counter, but do you have the counter space (when you factor in the blender, the coffee maker, and the microwave)? Do you bake often enough that a stand mixer will be that much more useful than a hand mixer? If so, go for it. Otherwise? Think it over.
You know the thing about wine glasses? When they see a lot of use, they tend to break. So go ahead and register for them, but don’t get something so expensive you’ll be heartbroken when it breaks. My husband and I prefer to buy a wine glass at a winery every time we go wine tasting — it’s a fun and inexpensive souvenir, and we can use them later at home.
Decorations and Knick-Knacks
It’s fun to register for home décor items, but don’t go overboard. Your style might change in a few years, so hold off on registering for that deer's head wall sculpture, those vases in multiple colors, or that plethora of candle holders. It’s easy to scan lots of random home décor items when you’re registering, but they won’t necessarily form a cohesive whole in your home.
The exception? Quality art prints or original art. This is your chance to get some REAL art to replace those college band posters you’ve had up on your walls the last few years.
One of the best things about a gift registry is that you can often return or exchange items for store credit or cash, so don't worry too much if you change your mind later!
What were your favorite wedding registry gifts?