GAAAAAAAH! WE’RE MAAARRIED!!!
Yep. That’s us, folks. At our wedding last May. With me doing that scary neck-thing I sometimes do — apparently unaware that I had some strange tan lines going on…
Today I want to talk not about our wedding but rather about our wedding registry. Why? Because there’s a wealth of wedding-registry advice out there, but much of it wasn’t super useful to me when I was planning last year around this time. I see now, for instance, that much of the registry advice I encountered came from or was sponsored by stores that wanted me to set up a registry (with as many of their items as possible). Also, some advice is just totally unrealistic. I found The Knot’s registry check-list to be, quite frankly, ridiculous.
I’ve already talked a bit about my registry on the blog, mentioning that Manny and I were initially hesitant to set one up. After we got engaged, as we were dreaming and scheming, ix-naying the registry was something we agreed on immediately. This was to be a celebration of our love! Not a mad-grab for presents. But then family and friends weighed in. I distinctly remember my mom asking me the following question:
“Do you want nine blueberry spoons?”
“What,” I replied, “is a blueberry spoon?”
She sighed a knowing-sigh. “You’ll find out if you don’t have a registry.”
(Alabama Chanin dinnerware from Heath Ceramics)
I have a good friend who lives in San Francisco; I was visiting her shortly before I got engaged and when it came time to set up a registry I remembered what it was like to be in her house, where her wedding presents were being put to good use. I remembered, in particular, her quality plates, her wonderful cotton-y towels, and the lovely silver frames showing off her wedding pictures on the mantle. It all seemed at once homey and grown-up, which is a nice vibe to strive for in one’s post-nuptial homestead.
I also remember a story about a friend who hadn’t set up a registry. He was having some colleagues from work over for dinner and realized they didn’t have enough matching plates for this kind of entertaining. So there he was, a pot roast in the oven, high-tailing it to Williams-Sonoma for a dining set to the tune of something like eight hundred bones. That’s the cost of an international plane ticket, folks. Good-bye vay-cay.
My point is: Maybe you plan to invest in Nice Things in the future. But the future has a way of sneaking up on us all. Suddenly you wake up and don’t have enough towels for your guests or a group of work friends are on their way over and you can’t set the table.
So here is some advice I give my soon-to-be married friends on setting up their registries:
1.] Ask for what you really want. I worried at times that things I liked were too expensive and thought about subbing out less expensive things. After all, no one wants to look like a crazy diva. But my friends and family talked me out of this. They pointed out that there is nothing compulsory for guests about a wedding registry. And if Manny and I had chosen things based on how much we were willing to spend on them at this point in life, we wouldn’t have gotten the kinds of gifts we could see ourselves using for years to come.
2.] That being said: Strive for a variety of price-points. I think about it like this: When I was in grad school (and super poor), I would approach friends’ weddings with all of my enthusiasm for their nuptials but a small budget to help them kick off their new households. I always appreciated a registry that had cool small-ticket items the couple wanted or needed so that, little budget or not, I could take part in the gifting.
Bear in mind too that as some items are selected by guests, you can and should add more to your registry to maintain the variety of price points.
3.] Have a few registries. Unless you’re having a really huge wedding, two or three registries should suffice. Regardless, it’s a good idea to have more than one and no more than four.
I think we had about 120 wedding guests, and we went with a traditional option (Macy’s) and an online registry site (Zola). I know a lot of people like consolidation sites like MyRegistry.com too. But the Macy’s/Zola combo worked for us for a couple of reasons. Some guests, particularly older ones, aren’t comfortable with the newfangled online-only registries that many couples these days are going for. They still want to go to a physical store. Meanwhile, Manny and I gravitated to Zola because they are great at curating their items, and their site was by far the most attractive of the registry sites I’d seen. Zola also allows you to link to things from other retailer’s sites (which is the great benefit of a site like MyRegistry too). And they have a “group gift” function that allows you to break down the cost of big-ticket items, if you choose.
4.] Look at other people’s registries — particularly the registries of recently married friends — and ask their advice. This is, for most of us (we’d hope), a one-time event.
5.] Plan ahead… while keeping in mind that the first few years of your marriage will probably be more unpredictable than you realize. The thing is, your wedding registry should reflect your ideal home more than the one you currently have. Manny and I quite frankly didn’t know we’d be leaving our Brooklyn apartment and moving into a bungalow in Savannah within months of saying “I do.” But the gifts we’d received at our wedding months before transitioned really well to our new, larger home.
6.] Pick wisely. You don’t want to register for too many items — think mismatch-city — or too few. You might also think about some of the things that people like to buy. For us, things like cutting boards, serving pieces, and picture frames went quickly. And it makes sense; these are discrete items that don’t need to be paired with too many other things to seem like a “complete” gift.
7.] Go to a store and see the items you think you want, whenever possible. I’m glad I did this. I was between the iittala Teema and some choices from Dansk (Christianshavn and Kobenstyle were favs) for our everyday plates. I still like the Dansk, but seeing the iittala in real life made up my mind. Going to stores to do recon also helped me chose the color of certain items (like our mixer) and it prevented me from asking for a vacuum cleaner way bigger and heavier than I either needed or could have easily handled.
Now, on to what we actually put on our registry. Below is some info on items that I continue to be obsessed with, items I see now we could maybe have done without, and items we might have subbed out or skipped.
- Quality dinnerware with coordinating serving ware. I have talked about this here and here. In a nutshell, we really wanted decent plates so we could set a nice table. After all, when we have guests at our home, more often than not it’s to eat something. We went with two sets for eight, formal (Royal Copenhagen) and informal (iittala Teema). Eight place settings made sense to us, and we know we can add to our sets over time if we choose.
- Quality cutlery. I already had silver I inherited that I love. Our everyday flatware was boring, though, so we were really grateful for the sixty-five piece Lenox Portola set we received, which has the right touch of what we think of as Swedish country chic.
- A high-end vacuum. A Dyson or a Miele makes a good investment that will last for an age, and you will be very glad to have it.
- Nice towels. We got a set of Restoration Hardware Turkish collection white towels, and a set of Macy’s Hotel Collection towels in Mica — both of which are TDF.
- Wine glasses (red, white, and champagne). We went with Riedel eight-piece sets for the wine glasses and I’m super happy with them. One day I want to get a set of Orrefors crystal cut wine glasses, like Manny’s grandmother has. But the Riedel are great for now — they’re nice, but not so fancy that I cry when someone breaks one (and yes, this has happened in the last year). My only regret is that I wish I’d gotten the white in stemless, as this reflects our lifestyle a little better. Also, do not skip the champagne flutes. You’ll be happy you have them to make mimosas and for special dinner occasions. We went with Schott Zwiesel Pure champagne flutes and like them a lot.
- Good knives. We went with Wusthof — not a full set either, but just the ones we felt were missing from our collection.
- Feather duvet. A really good duvet is a pretty hefty investment. But you should have one. Our beds should be our sanctuaries.
- KitchenAid Mixer. I’m glad we got that ubiquitous registry-favorite, the KitchenAid mixer, because I like to bake bread. But these are really expensive, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to add it to your registry if it’s just going to take up space in your house like a piece of sculpture.
- Cash gifts. I’m on the fence about this. I don’t feel comfortable asking for money, and I would personally rather give someone a gift they can use, as money is spent so easily on things like electric bills. But Manny pointed out that when he was a bachelor attending a friend’s wedding, he preferred the option to gift money for the honeymoon. Zola, for instance, allows you to ask for cash gifts toward special experiences like honeymoon excursions.
- Fancy bedding. We asked for and received a gorgeous Bellino Fine Linens three-piece duvet set. This did not disappoint when we opened it. But then I washed it. I didn’t think about the fact that it would need ironed. It’s such a hassle that despite the quality of our Bellino linens, we use our low-maintenance Ikea duvet sets just as often. Le sigh.
- Everyday drinking glasses. I love our iittala Kartio medium tumblers. LOVE. But rather than going with the Kartio large tumblers for our everyday drinking glasses, I wish I’d asked for a simple set by DuraClear, which is easier to replace. The iittala ones are expensive and it’s too easy to break them.
(Also, a note: I don’t mention good pots and pans above because Manny and I already had them; but if you don’t, I really suggest you get some. You’ll never regret owning decent All-Clad cookware. And who doesn’t covet Mauviel copper pots? Swoon.)
Other great resources and advice on planning your registry:
thekitchn.com: “The Wedding Registry Gifts We Still Use 10 Years Later (and the Ones We Don’t)”
Real Simple: “I Wish I’d Registered For…”
Brides.com: “Wedding Registry Advice from Real Couples”
What about you?! Any wedding registry tips or advice you’d like to share?