registry recs

Oh, wedding registries! Some people claim that registering for gifts can be one of the most stressful and argue-inducing times in a couple's engagement (someone actually told Drew & me to have a cocktail beforehand to take the edge off!), but I think it's really one of the most fun things you can do together to get excited about the big day.

Perhaps not every couple sees completely eye-to-eye on future home decor or has the exact same priorities (I will say Drew does tend to want massive TVs significantly more than I do), but registering is the time to dream up your future life together and what it looks like on the home front. Will you have a simple, clean-lines airy look with monochromatic toned walls and furnishings? Do you have a love for all things rustic and go for bear-skin rugs and natural wood details and burlap shaded lamps? Or does the coast call for you (as it does me!), with its brightly colored hues and geometric prints and sea-inspired details?

Is a large kitchen, complete with a Kitchen-Aid mixer and nice knives and stainless steel pans, important to the two of you? Or could you not care less about cooking at home and prefer exemplary dinnerware to serve your takeout and catered meals? Maybe with your busy careers, you want a spa-like experience when you come home, complete with plush towels and luxurious bath soaps and matching His & Her robes? Here is your opportunity to dream big and craft together the life you desire.

Think about your priorities, your lifestyle now, and how you want your lifestyle to be. Will you entertain a lot at home? Do you dream of hosting Thanksgiving for both sets of families come next November? Do you want somewhere to just sleep and keep your things with your on-the-go lifestyle? Are you minimalist and plan on moving someday soon? Or are you wanting to settle down and stay put once you've moved in together? All this can factor into the decisions you make whilst registering.

Here are a few basic tenets of wisdom in registering:

1. Who will primarily be fulfilling these registry requests? Are you inviting a lot of family and older family friends to the wedding? Are you fresh out of college and planning on inviting all your sorority sisters and fraternity brothers to the blowout party? Think about your target audience when you choose where and what range of gifts you register for. Options for places to register range the whole gamut, from big-box retailers like Target and to independent boutiques in your hometown. It never hurts to have a range of options but you don't want to be spread too much in different directions. Three seems to be the magic number of registries (but you don't have to follow all the rules). Here are some of your options:  Macy's. Target. Amazon. Crate & Barrel. Bed Bath & Beyond. Belk. Williams-Sonoma. Pottery Barn. Local specialty stores (there are a billion!). Places like Anthropologie also offer "Wish Lists" you can utilize similarly to registries. Then there's honeymoon registries galore, allowing opportunities to add on massage or spa treatments, champagne and room service, etc... The pragmatist in me tends to want to steer you away from doing the honeymoon registry unless you're already completely set with your home life (maybe you live together already and have all the things you'd otherwise need to outfit your life as a married couple, or you're moving to Haiti to become missionaries and don't need any "stuff" whatsoever), since honeymoons are DIVINE but temporary. But you make the call. :)

2. No matter how many companies you choose to register through, it always helps to give a wide range of cost to appease all your guests. Some people like to get big-ticket items. Some people like to go in with others on a large group gift (especially in office or organizational situations). Some people like to give lots of little gifts that have a theme ("outfitting the master bath" or "all you could need for baking"). And then some people wait until the last minute and just need something in their budget. Please everybody by choosing a variety!

3. If you're registering really early (as in, 6 - 9 months before the wedding day, or a few months before your showers are scheduled), try to register for as few "seasonal"  or clearance/sale items as possible. Some things are seasonless, but occasionally you'll fall in love with a set of dishes that happens to be in the spring line at your department store, or decide that you really should register for Christmas decor (since your tree may otherwise be bare). The issue with registering for a bunch of seasonal stuff is that by the time most guests are actually buying you gifts, those items will be insanely hard to find or completely out of stock, meaning that you'll MAYBE get 1 - 2 in a set, they'll be hard to return if you need to, and everyone ends up frustrated. Sale items can be okay (since limited-time sales oftentimes don't necessarily mean the item is going to be discontinued), but clearance things are almost always impossible to find when you need them. Go for the timeless stuff, y'all!

4. With that same thread, I promise you'll be less regretful if you register for timeless goods rather than what's trendy right now. Part of the fun is picking out the super cool printed towels and a set of china that looks so awesome. But the trendier you get, the more likely you are to hate that item in a couple of years and eventually stick it in the Goodwill donations box. Registry items are meant to last you a long time! Go for longevity. Quality > Quantity, usefulness > "cool", things you love > things you like, timeless > trendy.

5. Listen to your friends and ask what they use the most out of the things they registered for and received. Especially since you have a lot of things in common with your friends, their insight will be valuable so you know what to go for versus what to avoid.

6. Don't be afraid to return things you are "iffy" on or change your mind about. Sometimes people will gift you things that are not on your registry (sometimes those things are great and totally valuable -- as in "why didn't you think of that?!"). Sometimes those things were not on your registry for a very important reason (so thoughtful, but it would really take up more space than ever get used...). Get over the emotional guilt-trip and just return what you don't want and won't use. There's no use in taking up too much storage space just because you don't want to hurt Aunt Mildred's feelings. Most considerate friends & family will include gift receipts or return tags (sometimes you get duplicates or find a better price elsewhere, etc... lots can happen!), so get over the guilt and just get rid of what you don't need. Sometimes you register for things and then decide the things you DIDN'T get would actually serve you better. So return the things you don't want anymore and use that credit to get the things you need. Everyone wins. (JUST MAKE SURE TO WRITE YOUR THANK-YOU NOTES AS SOON AS YOU GET THE GIFTS! No one has to know you returned it the next day.)

7. Don't buy into the crazy long laundry lists of things all the stores tell you that you need to register for. Those businesses are for-profit. They don't know you personally, so they're going to be all-encompassing when they give you suggestions on what to register for. You can always err on the side of too much instead of too little (to give your guests more options, remembering that you can always return things you don't need), but don't get stressed trying to register for every last little thing. Enjoy it; this is one of the fun things!!!!


Here's a list of items that have historically been really lovely to register for & receive:

  • a lot of towels {they say you can't have too many. if anyone could, i think it's us, since we have about eighty billion, but we haven't regretted it. they stay fluffier longer and it means we can wait longer in-between laundry loads. also, when you have kids you'll need a billion. so go ahead and register for a zillion!}
  • china that is mix-and-matchable {determine whether or not you want to register for the fancy "fine china" -- some people are adamant that it is ABSOLUTELY necessary whereas some people don't use it and it takes up way too much space. but whatever patterns/materials you opt to register for, you will need something to eat on and it might as well be intermixable. you'll get more use, it seems more customized and personal rather than something boring and passé, and it's way less boring! by the way, i am all in favor of fine china but only if you use it on a daily basis. and why shouldn't you? if you spend a fortune on it, USE IT! that "special occasion" you're waiting for is your daily life!}
  • this can be the same as the aforementioned china, but i do recommend getting some attractive yet microwave-safe china {because sometimes you'll need it because life gets busy and we're all human here. save yourself an ikea trip to get ugly boring flat-colored microwave safe china by just registering for pretty stuff that you can pop in the science oven. lesson learned over here.}
  • a steamer & quality iron {drew works as an accountant and i'm a wedding planner, so our steamer comes in INSANELY handy! it's perfect for suits, wedding and nice dresses, pants, linens, everything. sometimes we get too lazy to iron things so we steam and done. however, we use our iron at least on a daily basis. get something good that isn't going to scorch your shirts and actually works. opt for the dripless varieties and read user reviews!}
  • a quality vacuum {nothing is more frustrating that a vacuum that doesn't work well. drew & i scoured consumer reports to find ours -- the hoover bagged wind tunnel anniversary edition. it was around $175 - 250, so not expensive, but works AMAZINGLY for pet hair & everyday use. vacuums are NECESSARY for EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE. so get one! it's a great group gift! ps: our hoover tends to bust through vacuum bands here and there, but they're super cheap to replace and can be found at any home depot, target, lowe's, etc. bags are also easy to find and cheap to replace. and the roller can be found on amazon for cheap, too!}
  • a french coffee press {we got a legit coffee maker too, but we use our french press daily. it's easy to use, doesn't make TOO much (only 3 - 4 cups at a time), is easy to clean, doesn't require coffee filters, and produces delicious coffee. cheap, easy, awesome. and pretty! who doesn't feel fancy boiling water in a kettle and making freshly-ground coffee? related items to register for (nice but not totally necessary):  coffee grinder & kettle}
  • a laundry sorter {ours is a combination dirty-laundry sorter and ironing board. drew even uses it as a desk in our bedroom, too. more attractive and takes up (kind of) less space than a traditional ironing board/hamper set. easy to dump into the washer.}
  • organic cotton sheets {these are softer and more temperature-appeasing than normal high thread count cotton sheets. if you're hot, they're cool, if you're cool, they're warm. they're super soft and not terribly expensive. we got ours from target and adore them. get at least 3 sets! i also recommend 1 -2 sets of flannel sheets for the most frigid winter nights}
  • nice, heavy silverware {i like 'em heavy yet dainty. opt not for wooden handles because they warp in the dishwasher. go for timeless because these will last you a long time!}
  • NICE QUALITY KNIVES {nothing infuriates me more than flimsy, cafeteria-grade knives. i'm serious, y'all. get them sharp and built to last!}
  • NICE QUALITY POTS & PANS {you just have to have them if you cook or plan on having anyone in your house to cook. i like copper, but stainless steel is great too. you can do the teflon-coated skillets but some naturalists are against them. see below.}
  • A CAST IRON SKILLET {yes, you need at least one. are you southern or not?! you can make literally anything in one and you can't live without it. trust me. get one in every size if you're truly southern.}
  • a casserole dish, preferably with a lid - monogrammed carrying case optional {ARE YOU SOUTHERN!? if so, you must. there is no question. we did not heed this advice until well after our wedding and it came back to haunt us at every thanksgiving, christmas, and potluck to come. BE WARNED!}
  • a kitchen-aid mixer {if you ever plan to bake anything}
  • a hand mixer {if you ever plan to make frosting, mashed potatoes, pie, or bake in a pinch or on the go}
  • a Silpat silicone baking mat {this is perfect and necessary for biscuit and cookie making. see also:  biscuit cutters, rolling pin, airlock cookie sheet}
  • airlock cookie sheet {this is a cookie sheet that has little air bubbles underneath the flat sheet to provide for even cooking. ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for cookie baking, unless you want black-bottomed burnt nasty cookies or biscuits. also helpful for anything else you plan to stick in the oven, including toast. DO NOT EVER PUT THIS IN THE DISHWASHER OR IT WILL BE RUINED FOREVER!}
  • miscellaneous kitchenware:  rubber spatulas, a can opener, a bottle opener/corkscrew, flat spatulas, a whisk, a sieve, a cheese grater, a slotted spoon, an ice cream scoop, pizza cutter, garlic press, measuring cups for liquid and solid measurements (everything down from 1/4 teaspoon to 1 cup and 1/4 cup - 4 cups for liquid), pot holders, pretty kitchen towels and washcloths, the list could continue forever...
  • a food processor {despite the fact that i rarely used mine in college, drew and i use it on a daily basis now. do yourself a favor and get a mini one and the full-size.}
  • a blender {i recommend the glass ones instead of plastic. they blend better and don't drip or break nearly as easily.}
  • attractive bathroom accessories {ours are hammered silver and they just look so pretty! don't get ugly stuff because you'll be looking at it daily.} don't forget your shower curtains, hooks, and memory-foam mats!
  • coffee cups {i love really pretty ones that may not be super matchy-matchy but at least coordinate.}
  • mixing bowls {i recommend two (medium and large) metal mixing bowls, as well as a set of nesting bowls in all sizes. these come in so handy!}
  • baking pans {a muffin tin, 8" round cake tins, a long rectangular brownie pan, a roasting pan, a 9" square cake tin, a springform pan if you plan to make cheesecake.}
  • magic strips {for even baking in cakes and cheesecakes!}
  • a le creuset dutch oven, or similar {le creuset is the famous supplier of these amazing pots, but we have a similar one of a less-notorious brand and it still comes in handy ALL THE TIME! love love love. we also love our rachel ray casseroval!}
  • crystal glassware {i love riedel stemless wine glasses and also love our crystal highball and rocks glasses that we use for everything.}
  • glass "tupperware" {it doesn't have to be name-brand, obvs. but get something you can put leftovers in so you're not using old empty cool whip containers. and glass is safe for the science oven!}
  • entertaining things:  a serving platter or two, a serving bowl or two, serving utensils, cloth napkins, a table linen or two, some placemats, candlesticks, a cake stand
  • practical things:  a plunger, a toilet brush, trash cans, cleaning supplies, a broom, a mop, a bucket, sponges
  • outdoor entertaining things, if applicable {plan on spending some time partying with friends on your back deck or patio? i recommend pretty but plastic dinnerware, some anti-mosquito candles, and a lovely furniture set. we got ours from ikea and it can't be beat for an apartment entertaining hub!}
sources:  west elm, anthro, crate & barrel

sources:  west elm, anthro, crate & barrel

That's just a teensy bit of advice for you! Now, go grab that scanner and get to work! :)