It's one of the big exciting things you get to do during your engagement. While it's fun to think about stocking your home with nice new things designed to last a lifetime, I found the process to be slightly overwhelming. Here's a few things I wish I'd known before breaking out the scanner.
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1. Eat Before You Go.
The number one reason I get cranky is hanger (hunger + anger). That's the last thing you want before any shopping trip, especially with the person you're marrying. Eat a sandwich before you hit the department store (or hardware store... whatever!) and set yourself up for success.
2. Shop 'Til It's No Longer Fun
You walk into Crate & Barrel, thinking oh man, I can't wait for my house to look like it came out of a fancy magazine!
And then you start wandering around, and everything looks cool at first, and then it all starts looking the same and then how in the hell do you even pick?! I can bet you and your beloved will probably have an hour in you, tops, before you start getting crabby. The second that happens, turn in the scanner, leave and go grab a bite or drink.
Food. It is very important.
3. Go for the Good Stuff
We do a lot of cooking, so registering at a kitchen store was a must. We picked Williams Sonoma, which sells really nice, but pretty expensive stuff.
I felt a little self-conscious registering for a $300 Le Creuset and a $200 chef knife, but you know what? There are a lot of people who actually want to get you nice things for your wedding. You're supposed to ask for things that'll last you until forever, so go for it! If someone wants to spend less money, they can go in on a gift with someone else or just get you a gift card.
4. Don't Get Caught Up in "Forever"
Though you probably want cooking vessels and kitchen tools that will last forever, you'll drive yourself insane if you keep asking yourself things like, sure I love this now... but will I in 20 years? Who the hell knows!? Just register for quality things that you like now and aren't over-the-top trendy. In 20 years, you might have a kid going to college who will be happy to take that "totally 2015" stuff to their first apartment.
5. Know Thy Self
Do you cook tons? Great, register for nice kitchen things. Is your idea of cooking ordering take-out? Great, then get a few nice essentials and ask for gifts you actually plan on using (nice towels? Power tools? Knock yourself out!). I don't think I will ever have a need for fancy china, so I didn't register for it, even thought The Knot said I should. Who cares! Fancy dinner or not, we'll be sticking to the casual Welcome White dishes from Crate & Barrel:
Other things to note: how to care for plates, cooking vessels, linens, flatware. Do you really want to hand wash everything in your kitchen? Probably not, so make sure your silverware can go in the dishwasher (read reviews online... the first set we registered for had some gold accents and flaked off like crazy). And copper pots and pans are pretty, but they need to be polished. Are you really up for that?
6. Beware of Target
It's great to register at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond (they have a great return policy!) for select small appliances and budget-friendly items, but for things like plates, linens and glassware, opt for something a little nicer. By the time your wedding rolls around, the things you registered for might not only be sold out, but could potentially never be available again because Target (especially) usually stocks shelves with trending items.
On the flip side, I have a friend who registered for these plates from Crate & Barrel 17 years ago, and C&B STILL carries them... good to know in the event that this happens:
7. Get as Creative as You Want
You don't have to stick to registering at department stores. Maybe you want a bunch of tools or have folks chip in toward your honeymoon. Here's some alternative places to register:
Home Depot for DIYers. Power tools are expensive, yo.
Cabela's for camping gear and outdoorsy stuff
REI also for camping gear and outdoorsy stuff. I know friends who registered (and got!) a canoe!
Amazon.com for everything under the sun. Plus these guys make it super easy for guests to ship you gifts, which is especially fabulous for out-of-towners.
Anthropologie for beautiful dishes, linens, candles-n-stuff. I don't think my hubby would've been into this one, but maybe your significant other will be!
Honeyfund for cash toward your honeymoon. Some people will tell you they think option is "tacky," but I am big fan of giving experiences, not stuff.
Hatch My House = a registry for moolah toward a home downpayment. Nice!
8. Go Easy on the Gadgets
Is an avocado saver a must, or will plastic wrap work just as well? Could you just toast a sandwich on the stovetop versus committing to space-eating panini maker? Do you honestly need a food processor, blender and immersion blender? I like having all three, but I use them constantly and could probably get away with just the Cuisinart food processor and a nice immersion blender.
Remember, the more gadgets and gizmos you register for, the more storage space you need. Read this interview with James Beard Award-winning food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman. Guarantee it will inspire you to register for select quality things versus every gadget known to man.
I'm picky out what gadgets end up in my kitchen. That said, here's a few I use constantly.
9. When in Doubt, Get the Bigger Size.
Can't decide between a two or three-quart sautee pan? Go for the bigger one. It's better to have room to work with versus an over-crowded pan. Same goes with chefs knives (go for one with a longer blade. Longer blade = more working surface).
10. Forget "Sets"
You really only need a 8-inch chefs knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife. You probably don't need a cleaver, slicing knife, filet knife and who knows what else. If you're looking for a specialty knife, great. Buy it separately-- no reason to fill your kitchen with fancy items you don't use or need.
Along those same lines, go for a la carte pots and pans. You really only need a sauce pan, a large sautee pan and maybe a non-stick skillet for eggs (or cast iron skillet! They're cheap, too!). I use my Le Creuset dutch oven for everything-- a roaster, stock pot, sautee pan and decoration.
11. A Note on Wine Glasses
We registered for a lot of wine glasses. We got champagne flutes, stemmed, stemless... you name it. My rationale for all these glasses is that they do frequently break and reds go in a certain vessel, while whites go in another type. And sometimes you want stemless, and other times you want a stem.
Fast-forward to now. We have waaay more wine glasses than anyone would ever need. And what's funny is the glasses we use time and time again aren't even ones we registered for. They're these narrow-ish Orrefors my mom got us because the stemless glasses we asked for were, in her opinion, "too big to hold in your hand." Which ended up being absolutely true!
So my advice: if you want stemless wine glasses, only get narrowish ones like the option below (or something similar). They're perfect. And if you must get the bulbous red wine glasses, only register for the stemmed version.
12. Give Those Nice New Towels a test run
We registered for fancy white towels from Macy's. They were incredibly fluffy and soft. I couldn't wait to get them into our bathroom! We washed them all before use (a brand new towel is never absorbent enough, plus who knows where they've been prior to your home!). Once they were in rotation, both Josh and I noticed that while still soft and fluffy, these towels were just not that absorbent. A year later, and they still kinda suck. I continue to use these oldies from Cost Plus World Market (my faves!) in lieu of our fancy towels.
So my advice to you: try out ONE of your towels a few times. If they're awesome, great, keep the whole lot. If not, return the unused ones and get something else.
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What are you thrilled you registered for? What do you wish you hadn't? Any other alternative registry options? Please share in the comments!
PS Other wedding-related posts: 7 Scary Things I Did Before My Wedding, why you might not want to do airbrushed makeup for your big day, plus my 13 kitchen essentials that are definitely worth registering for.