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! :)

no-nonsense rules for entertaining

As I look around my immaculate house (cleaned from top to bottom this week in preparation for Friday's low-key Easter dinner), it dawns on me how phenomenally motivating entertaining is for whipping one's home into shape. I definitely enjoy having a tidy household (it's so lovely and refreshing! yay!!) but there's just something so enticing about showing off a clean, beautiful space to friends and family that kicks my butt into gear a whole lot sooner than if I were just here enjoying it alone.

You only need a few key elements to have a lovely party:

A crazy gorgeous space:   A grove of trees with chandeliers intermingled . Swoon.

A crazy gorgeous space:  A grove of trees with chandeliers intermingled. Swoon.

1. A beautiful space. It can be beautiful by nature alone, or a blank space beautified by a lovely tablescape and some mood lighting (hello candles or string lights!)... most times I'm a big advocate for entertaining in the home. All you need in that case is a smart dose of spring cleaning and your own keen sense of interior design! Instant party venue!

Making miniatures is a surefire way to dress up basics, like  beer & burgers ! Where can I get my hands on little mugs like those?!

Making miniatures is a surefire way to dress up basics, like beer & burgers! Where can I get my hands on little mugs like those?!

2. Something to snack on and sip. This is one of those golden areas of Southern hospitality: No one need ever go hungry or thirsty on your watch! You certainly don't have to produce a full meal (unless it's a classic dinner party... more on those later!), but a little something salty and sweet never hurt anyone. And as far as libations are concerned, you can go big (a modified open bar, composed of whatever you've got in stock) or go "homey":  a pitcher of sweet tea or lemonade or peppermint punch will do the trick just as well! Always have some bottled or filtered water on hand and when in doubt, make a pot of coffee!!!!!

 Swanky lounge space  with axis furniture, perfect for fatigued guests:)

Swanky lounge space with axis furniture, perfect for fatigued guests:)

3. Adequate seating. Nothing will drive a person to leave early quite like tired legs. Cocktail tables are perfectly acceptable (and aesthetically pleasing) for setting down drinks and chatting with friends, but have SOME seating available for most guests, especially if you anticipate the party going on for an extended period of time. (This is quadruply important when inviting elderly or pregnant guests!) Lounge area, anyone?


4. Background music. A warm, inviting soundtrack puts guests at ease and leaves no early arrivers feeling obligated to break up the awkward silence. Keep the volume low enough to still carry on a conversation without shouting, but not so low as to have people questioning, "Am I hearing things or is Mumford & Sons trapped inside your coat closet?"

5. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL:  The perfect conglomeration of party guests. Make sure to fit your invite list to the occasion (Intimate dinner party? Invite a few great conversationalists who mesh well with others! You'll be spending quite long hours in a confined space with them! Casual barbecue on the bay? Request the company of a rousing group of friends, many whom could play volleyball into the wee hours of the evening!). You can usually invite a few more guests than would fit perfectly in the space because odds are some RSVPs will come back as regrets, but if you're notorious for throwing fabulous parties (and people ditch their previous plans to attend your shindigs), might as well stick to the fire marshal regs.

Cheers to a  rousing group of partygoers ! (Taken from KDE Styled shoot with Morgan Trinker.)

Cheers to a rousing group of partygoers! (Taken from KDE Styled shoot with Morgan Trinker.)


Other little things for bonus points:

A cake! (What brings more festivity than cake, besides cake AND champagne? Those two things are one of the most classic combinations in history. Throw away the rest of the rules if you have these two, because they're all you need for a good party!)

These  striped table runners  totally upgrade the look of pretty patio tables!

These striped table runners totally upgrade the look of pretty patio tables!

Beautiful linens. Linens give such a personalized, detailed little touch. They can really dress up a table, disguise an unsightly hunk of furniture, and make any old party seem luxe and formal! (A white furry throw can act as a delightful luxurious linen at a winter wonderland party!)

Some  legit crystal coupes  are SO much more festive than plastic disposables! (Plus, they're eco-friendlier. Win-win!)

Some legit crystal coupes are SO much more festive than plastic disposables! (Plus, they're eco-friendlier. Win-win!)

Real china or crystal! Everyone knows you mean business when you whip out the fine china. And how much more glamorous do you feel holding a crystal champagne flute than a plastic 8-oz cup? Exactly.

My favorite party theme right now? It's all  Gatsby . Chandeliers, champagne, art deco, flapper hair... give me all of it!

My favorite party theme right now? It's all Gatsby. Chandeliers, champagne, art deco, flapper hair... give me all of it!

A THEME! I will always have an ineffable fondness for themed parties... There is just something so whimsical and fun about decorating with a particular big-picture-concept in mind, dressing up in something out of the ordinary, and having something interwoven in every little facet of the party. It's like revealing a secret! Divine.


There you have my no-nonsense rules for entertaining! It's really all just complete common sense, but I also think of it as a perfect science. My very favorite science of all!


monograms and prints and trays, oh my!!!

If there is any Southern in your blood, you inevitably have an insatiable desire to monogram None other than (Tennessee native) Southern belle Reese Witherspoon has said it better:  "My rule is, if it's not moving... monogram it."

It's no wonder that weddings are the perfect occasion to shower brides with all things monogrammed:  they're (probably) obtaining a whole new set of initials! There is something undeniably exciting about unwrapping a shower gift and seeing that new last name letter engraved or embroidered... it gives a sense of permanence ("OhmyLawd, y'all, we're REALLY getting married!") and unity. Some say it's bad luck to monogram anything you use BEFORE the wedding (including ceremony programs -- I'm looking at you, Martha Stewart), but I'm more for practicality than superstition:  God willing and the creek don't rise, you're going to have those new initials for the rest of your life! (What's an extra month or two to exercise them?)

One of my favorite friendors (friend-vendor) from Making Things Happen last year, Mandy Volpe, just released a new line of gorgeous monogrammed Lucite trays that would be the PERFECT shower or hostess gift!  [DISCOUNT CODE BELOW!] As a self-professed entertaining addict, these are Southern belle-approved and absolutely fabulous. They are ideal for bringing new husbands breakfast-in-bed, storing pretty trinkets on your vanity or dresser, providing a lovely backdrop to place that unsightly remote control, keep your notebook and favorite pen on your drab-looking desk, or even to mount on your wall to show off those pretty initials!!! (I have a friend who's done this and it's gorgeous! Instant Southern wall art!)

Mandy's trays are in a myriad of beautiful patterns and colors. Shower your BFF with a tray in her wedding colors, or win the best-bride-ever award by gifting your bridesmaids with something they'll actually USE:  a lovely monogrammed tray in their favorite hues!

BONUS: She even has a DARLING "Happy Birthday" tray. For those of you with children (or just an ageless sense of wonder!), this would be perfect to present with a birthday biscuit (complete with a lit candle and singalong!).

DISCOUNT CODE:  Use the code "openingday" to get 20% off anything at her Etsy shop!

Congratulations for launching this new branch of business, Mandy!!!