There are about 940 million listicles, articles, and blog posts about what to register for at Bed Bath & Beyond or Williams-Sonoma before you get married. It also seems like every store (Target! Anthropologie!) offers a registry, making the whole process convoluted and time-consuming. Should I go cute or practical? Is this a wish-list or a needs-list? Do I really need 30 kinds of serveware when I’ve never invited a guest over in my life?
Well, both, both, and probably not.
I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum. Brides that have been training competitively for this event since grade school, and brides that have lived with their significant other for years and have a fully-functioning household. Some brides need to have the perfect modern-chic flatware (in gold!) and some are totally at a loss with a scanner at Macy’s.
I tiptoe the line between both of these “types”, so I thought I’d share my experiences in the world of registries.
If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I love to cook. It is my passion. I hate that I don’t have more time for it (and a kitchen crew to clean up after me). When I was a little kid, I remember going into home goods stores and dreaming of the day I’d get to pick out my very own plates (I was very into sunny yellow Southwestern-style pottery then; I’ve become a minimalist in my old age). For me, this dream was not associated in any way with a man or a wedding. Having my own supplies meant freedom, adulthood, and self-sufficiency. I assumed that one day I’d be fabulously wealthy, having published a string of acclaimed YA novels, and I could buy my own damn plates.
How does that Alanis song go? Life has a funny, funny way…
I never became an author, and, at 25, am most-certainly-freaking-not fabulously wealthy. I have lived with my fiancé for 3 years, and we have a fully-functioning household and kitchen. So, when I went to register for gifts, my inner child who wanted all the things did battle with my independent feminist adult self who felt all the guilt about asking for a new colander when the Ikea one she had worked perfectly fine.
So, I did the reasonable thing and asked some other recent brides for their perspectives. When in doubt: ask! Talking to my sister-in-law (who got married in 2014) was the biggest help. She’d already been through it; she knew the etiquette.
Ultimately, my registry & bridal shower experiences were really positive, and I learned a lot. None of my guests went broke spoiling me, but each and every one of them made me very happy and showed me immense generosity.
Tips for a Happy Registry
- Be yourself, and be reasonable. Register for things you need and you will use. Ignore the lists that come in the bridal books. If you’re a top-notch baker, get you a KitchenAid, girl. If you did a few-year stint at Starbucks in college, register for that fancy espresso machine! You know how to use it! But if the thought of reading through owner’s manuals and attempting to clean a juicer freaks you out, keep it simple. Get some cute curtains for your living room. Let each choice reflect your actual lifestyle, not your aspirational one.
- Cover your bases before you dream big. If you really want a designer duvet, but you don’t even have a ladle, let the practical take priority. Thus, have a good selection of super cheap (salt & pepper shakers) and super expensive (a Dyson). This is a plus for you and your guests! Since your registry items will be hand-picked by you, you’ll appreciate them all. One of my favorite gifts was an $8 creamer shaped like a cow—the cutest!
- Consider region when registering. I know the internet has all the things and that physical space and distance no longer matter, but I guarantee that you have older family members that aren’t tech savvy. Make sure at least one of your registries is with an easy-to-get-to store. Targets are everywhere. There is a Bed Bath & Beyond in every state. You can do your dream registry, for sure, but be considerate of your guests’ technological abilities.
- Keep an eye on your registry online. If you’re anything like me, you woke up the morning after getting engaged and immediately set up a registry. But things change a lot in a year (or 6 months…or 6 weeks!), so you’ve got to keep it updated! Also, some people will look at your registry and buy you the same items from other stores—make sure you remove these items from your registry to avoid duplicates!
- Save every. last. receipt. You’re going to return things! You’ll probably even return things that you wanted! I ended up having to return a super-cute margarita set and 2 sets of martini glasses because I had other more pressing household needs (plus, no storage space for all that glassware). Also, save appliance boxes (or at least the barcodes and serial numbers), because you never know when you’ll be eligible for a rebate!
- Have fun. It’s supposed to be fun! What’s more fun than presents? However, if the thought of having to inventory your glassware makes you die inside, then screw the registry altogether! Your wedding is about you, your partner, and exactly no one else—tradition be damned!
Stay tuned for my Top 10 Registry Picks!