The Advice I Took and the Advice I Ignored When Setting Up My Wedding Registry

The Advice I Took and the Advice I Ignored When Setting Up My Wedding Registry

Stephanie Barlow
Apr 23, 2014
(Image credit: Williams Sonoma)

Ah, the wedding registry. It's what every bride and bridegroom-to-be dreams of, right? As someone with an already functioning kitchen and NYC-sized storage (read: none), I wasn't so sure about the whole process. It seemed old-fashioned, (and, can I say, a little bit greedy) as though we would be demanding our guests meet a spending limit in order to celebrate our union. But in the end, we wanted to give friends an option to purchase a gift and some direction on what we'd use.

Here's a very personal look at the advice I took and the advice I jettisoned in this ritual of the modern American wedding.

The whole registry process can be overwhelming, even for someone pretty familiar with kitchen products. The key takeaway for us was looking for lasting and quality products we'd use. We like to entertain, so updated serving pieces and tableware seemed like a good place to start, as well as upgrading a few old workhorse electrics. And we'd been living and cooking together for more than a year, so we knew what we used (pizza stone, slow cooker) and what had been sitting in the back of the cupboard (specialty cocktail glasses, extra vases).

Advice I Ignored

  • You need a matching set - I love to cook and already own a few great quality pieces of cookware. I saw no reason to replace what's already in use and in good shape just to end up with three matching pieces of the same color. Sure, my beige Le Creuset Dutch oven has some marks from use, but replacing it for one that matched the red casserole pan I registered for just seemed wasteful. We have a few nice knives, so no need to get a whole new set.
  • You need a formal set of fine china - I went back and forth on this one because I love the vintage style of formal dinnerware. But it turns out both my parents and my fiance's parents have sets of fine china they'd like to pass on to us (should we ever have a kitchen large enough to store it). We opted for more casual everyday tableware.
  • You should update your whole kitchen - Not everything in our kitchen is the same age — we inherited dishes that were tired and ready to be replaced, but our flatware was fairly new and we really liked it. This also goes for items you're not sure you need like a food processor or stand mixer. Although I've heard many friends talk wonders about their immersion blenders, I didn't see myself using one and didn't add it to the list.
  • Use an alternative registry - While I've seen some great alternative registries out there, for the ease of our guests and what we needed, a more traditional approach worked best for us.
  • Register for what you'd like to learn to cook - For a brief moment I thought a paella pan would be a great idea, but I knew I could make paella in a regular pan and that I'd probably make paella only once or twice. My general rule of thumb was to stick to multi-use items when possible.

Advice I Took

  • Upgrade, upgrade - Having a working kitchen is one thing, but investing in higher quality items to replace some over-worked and dated items definitely factored into our choices. For example, I'd been using a food processor handed down from my parents for years, as well a sad old slow cooker. I was excited to upgrade these to versions made within the last few decades and that I wouldn't mind having out on the counter.
  • Register for items at price points that make sense for gift givers - What's worse than looking up a registry to find that items start at $150 or $200? We didn't want to be presumptuous but in the same vein, we didn't want to put the onus on guests to mix and match $5 items.
  • Use two registries - We wanted to keep it simple and use only one store, but found that some of the items we were interested in were better priced elsewhere.
  • Register at stores that offer incentives - This was a big decision point in going with a traditional registry for us. We opted towards stores with solid return polices, completion discounts, and stores that offered sales and discounts for people purchasing gifts as well.
  • Add a few "wish list" items - I'd been dreaming of an espresso maker for a long time, and while my French press worked fine, the espresso maker was one of the items I was the most excited about. I knew I'd use it and it would last many years.

What advice did you take and what did you ignore when setting up your registry?

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