I'll admit it: Before I got engaged, I spent years thinking about what I'd like to register for. Like most cooks, I had a fantasy list of items, such as All-Clad pans, that I couldn't afford but hoped someone would buy me someday.
But, as I learned when it finally did come time to register, it's actually a bit more complicated. When you and your fiancé are wandering through seemlingly endless displays of housewares, deciding what to put on your list can get stressful. If you live in a small apartment, do you really want an espresso maker? Would you rather have tough, practical dishes or delicate fine china? Even though you won't be paying for the items yourself, someone will, and if you want to avoid waste and get things you'll actually use, a bit of forethought is required.
So below I've shared some tips that I've learned after going through this process. I hope they'll help other culinarily-minded brides- and grooms-to-be put together their perfect wish lists. And I'd love to hear from other readers: Do you have additional tips for creating a great registry?
1. When deciding where to register, head first to the places you usually shop. These stores are most likely to have a lot of things that fit who the two of you are. If you're low-key people who buy most of your housewares at Bed, Bath , and Beyond, don't feel like you have to register at Barney's just because people tell you it's a great choice. However, that said, once you've covered the basics, it can be nice to throw in one "fantasy"-type store like Michael C. Fina for a few heirloom-quality gifts. This is your wedding, after all, and it's nice to get some unique things that you'll have forever. I registered at four different stores, and I felt like this gave me a good mix of options.
2. Department stores are a good choice if you want a lot of variety. For instance, to get both housewares and luggage at the same place, a department store is the way to go.
3. Before you head to the stores (or shop online), make a wish list. This will help avoid the aimlessly-wandering-the-aisles problem.
4. To start your wish list, try to think of all the times during the last year that you've thought, "I could really use..."All cooks have these moments: You're sautéeing onions and wish you had a flat-edged wooden spoon. Or you're trying to get that last bit of peanut butter out of the jar and your one skinny rubber spatula is dirty. Don't be afraid to put small, practical things on your list as well as bigger-ticket items: Many people will appreciate options at a variety of price points when they're putting together gifts for you.
5. Consider getting more of things you already own.For instance, I loved my Fiestaware dishes, but I was always having to wash bowls because we didn't have enough. So, I registered for more to fill out my set to 12.
6. Think about what kind of cooks (and eaters) you both are. I didn't want to spend a lot of time polishing my cookware, so fancy copper pots were out. However, we hang our pans on racks for easy access, so my fiancé wanted something that would look nice. So we chose All-Clad's LTD2 line, which is dishwasher safe but has an anodized aluminum exterior that maintains its appearance better than stainless steel. Also think about how often you're likely to use an item and whether you have the space for rarely-used appliances: A waffle maker or ice cream machine is fun and handy if you have the space, but if your kitchen is tiny, you might want to stick to essentials.
7. Plan for the future. Are children on the horizon? Some unbreakable plastic glasses and chip-resistant dishes might be a good idea. Hope to move to a larger home eventually? You might want to consider tablesettings for 12 even if you can only seat 6 in your current space. It's much easier to get the full set now than to have to hunt down discontinued patterns later.
8. And finally, once you have your list drawn up, browse online or head to the stores to create your registry. Your list will help you stay focused and avoid "impulse purchases" that you won't really use. (Do you really need a special tool for slicing avocado? I know I don't.) However, there's nothing wrong with adding some special items that strike your fancy, such as gorgeous crystal candlesticks or a fancy wine decanter.
by Sarah Kagan