Build a Smart Wedding Registry: A Guide


It’s better than Christmas and better than birthdays: grab your lover and your beloved latte and wander your favorite stores with a little scanner, effortlessly creating unending lists of all the many things in your future life together. You may have previously ordered takeout for 365 days of the year, but put a diamond ring on your finger and suddenly you dream of gigantic fluffy towels, a pin-tucked duvet, and that shiny silver seafood cracker set you just saw online. The possibilities are intoxicating. (Think of all the lemon-butter crab and lobster you could be painlessly eating!)

But don’t let your excitement steamroll your perspective. (How many times will you skip the seafood joint downtown to actually cook and crack your own lobster at home?) Let your guard down, and that scanner will morph into a wand of black wizardry, magically overcrowding your future home with absurd appliances and holiday-themed appliqué pillows that, on second thought, you will probably never use and no longer even like.

To create a smart and useful wedding registry, keep these simple guidelines in mind.


How much space do you have? In 2012, Americans spent more than $22 billion on self-storage space—a lot of money just to keep things we don’t even use. Take a joint inventory of what you and your partner already own, and decide what you’ll actually use and where you will keep it. Do you really need twelve types of blenders? Or seventeen kitchen knives in addition to one special slicer each for eggs, cheese, bananas, avocados, and apples? Unless you’re Rachel Ray’s prop team, probably not.

Less clutter and more space affects your mindset in positive ways, so remember to prioritize. Look for multi-use items, such as a food processer (preps veggies and fruits, mixes bread, makes nut butters, and more), and items that will last, such as a high quality set of pots and pans. Also remember that your tastes are likely to evolve over the next few years. Avoid registering for decorative or highly stylized items, and instead go for versatile basics that can be accessorized or complimented.

Make a list

Know your space, know your needs, and know your habits. If you bake a lot, a stand mixer is a great investment. If you don’t (and especially if you’re moving into a small apartment), a hand mixer will probably do the job. If you harbor a deep love for hosting, fill your list accordingly. If not, there’s no need to stuff extra bedding, cookware, and twenty-four extra plates in boxes under the bed.

Make a list before you register, and do your research to outsmart marketing. Keep in mind that stores do use actual science to advertise and arrange items in their stores; it takes preparation and a plan to stay smart. Using registry guide checklists can be helpful, but be sure to make your own list, customized to your own life.

Think future

Wedding guests are generous and usually want to give; so sit down with your fiancé and envision the kind of life that is important to both of you. Do you want a massage cushion, a Margaritaville frozen concoction maker, and specialized panini, waffle, and pancake grills, or would you rather give guests creative alternatives? Think outside of the box and create a travel fund (or other “do” instead of “get” ideas), a giving fund (suggest donations to a cause you care about in lieu of buying items from a registry), or a house fund to put towards your first mortgage. Speaking of prioritizing, keep perspective a priority and use your registry to shape your future.

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