10 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Registered for our Wedding

by - Monday, May 01, 2017


This month is all about weddings, and you can find lots of great advice on planning weddings, but the wedding registry doesn't get too much attention- it is one check on the neverending to do list. And who really wants to focus on it anyway? It feels really selfish to spend too much time fixated on what is basically a giant wish list. You find a list and get it done. Easy, right? Not too much to think about, and you can focus on things that are more fun and creative.

 I know I look back on our registry and have some regrets on how we went about it. Starting tomorrow, I will re-post my Eco-friendly and Made in America Wedding Registry this month, but here are a few of the lessons I wish I had learned before our wedding:


1. You aren't as Clueless as you think you are


 I remember clinging to those lists you can get at Bed, Bath, and Beyond or on Pinterest because I felt like we didn't know what we needed. It feels intimidating and rather grown-up, like something you can mess up. You can't really. Those lists, mostly provided by people who want to sell as much as possible, define lots of things as "needs" when they aren't really even wants. It's ok to take all of those lists with a grain of salt and temper them with family advice and your own sense. There are stores in marriage, so if you decide you need a turkey roaster later, you can still buy one.


2. Sets make no Sense


 Knife sets, pan sets, most sets; they all give you stuff you don't need or won't use. You are better off to register for individual items. Get the knives you want/ need, and a knife holder like this gorgeous one or this shabby chic one. It creates smaller but better quality items that people can afford instead of big honking sets that either no one is going to splurge on or is cheap and won't last long. Think of place settings- a bunch of gifters can collaborate to gift you a full set.

3. Pick a Wide Variety of Price Points

 Don't register for anything crazy and do more smaller items than big ones. I have attended so many more weddings since we got married, and the trick is always finding the right combo of things to get close to the budget we set. Most people won't go big, so think about how you can break the big stuff into smaller parts.


4. Get Things to Keep Forever



It can be easy to register for things that make sense for the moment, but won't last all that long. Other than non-stick pans, your wedding gifts should last for as long as your marriage! Heard of the Buy it Once movement? It's like that, except you register for it once and never have to buy it. You can spend your money other ways. Register for things made in America by trustworthy companies. Better to get one well-made spatula that lasts ten years than a set of junky ones that last two.

Easy rule of thumb? Stay away from plastic. The material lasts for many years, but its usefulness doesn't. Stick to glass and metal. This will save you money and be better for the Earth.


5. Don't think you need it? You Probably Don't



 One of the most conscientious things we can do for our future and our Earth is to buy what we need, and nothing more. You need not prepare for the contingency that you become completely different people in the future. If you do, there will be stores there too. If you never bake, you probably don't need a Kitchenaid mixer. If you never host the Dowager Countess, maybe china isn't for you (most of us have heirloom china in our future anyway). You know your life.


6. Don't Replace What Still Works


 We registered for a lot of things we already had and which worked just fine- that is crazypants. You are only going to get so many gifts, why waste them on stuff you already have?

 When they first did this whole wedding registry thing, a wedding was the literal beginning of adulthood, and people moved out of their parents' homes, so they needed everything. Things don't look much like that now; most of us have long lived out of our parents' houses (often with each other) before we marry. So the first real step is taking stock of what you already have and making a list of what you need or you need to replace. So, you can reconsider the whole list based on what is on it's last leg, not just register for a toaster because that's what you do. Your toaster is fine, friend.

from Shannybeebo

7. Step Out of the Regular Registry Box


 Yes, Crate and Barrel, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, we see you. Consider registering somewhere like Etsy, where you can get cool (and vintage) stuff that you would treasure forever. You will not treasure that plastic clock from Target, but register for a cool clock from Etsy, and it might grace your kitchen walls when you make your 40th Thanksgiving dinner together. They have great measuring cups, blankets, and all sorts of things on there. And they have their own registry now, so you can do this easily.

Other companies aren't featured in the big stores, but they are the best out there.1888 Mills makes towels here in the US, but you have to direct people because they won't just pop up. The possibilities are wider than stores want you to know. You want to register at two or three places, so as long as one is pretty mainstream, you have some room to get creative.

8. Every Bed needs Two Sets of Sheets

 That's it. One to have on while the other is being laundered. Maybe a third if you are somewhere where seasonal switches make sense. More make no sense and clutter your life.

9. Do it Early

 Yes, you will hate it, and it feels so weird to hop right on the gift train, but doing your registry should be an early step in the wedding preparation.

One easy step hardly anyone takes is to just go to your local consignment store. If you can find a water pitcher you like there for 2 bucks, wouldn't you rather not register for the 40 dollar one? And please, for the love of all things sensible, no one register for mugs. The world has enough, and if you really need them, Goodwill has you covered. This step might take you a minute, but it can do a world of good by keeping things out of landfills, saving you money, and redirecting your guests to the gifts you really need and can't find elsewhere.

So start thinking about the registry early.  One of the nice things about this is you can keep an eye on how it is doing, so if you need to add more things, you can. Don't over-register. Register only for the A Team, and if a price point is looking sparse, you can always come back through with the B Team.

10. See this as an Opportunity to do Some Good

 Most of us don't see a wedding registry as an ethical set of decisions, but every purchase we make is. I feel a lot of sadness that I really didn't care about the ethics and environmental impact of things when we were registering for our wedding. There are so few times in life where you get to buy (or at least choose) so many products at once. Think how many trips from China a regular pile of wedding gifts make. That means tons of fossil fuels in use, tons of environmental waste, and a high likelihood that someone was treated really badly so you could get what you want. This is one time you can take your regular impact and multiply it by your guests, so every change you make really counts.

It's easy not to think about it, (and really who would want to- it's a lot of extra work on an already huge task) but you can make a profound positive difference in the world That's why I made these registry lists, so you know that options exist for almost every object you would want on your registry. Made in China is not inevitable.



  If you make the commitment to think about your registry in a different way, adding a few recycled items, or even just change over to American-made when it makes sense, you can save fuel, save yourself money, and start your married life off on the right foot. It's worth doing, and I truly wish we had thought about this more when we could have. Learn from my mistakes. And check out the Eco Friendly and Made in America Wedding Registry!

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6 comments

  1. What a great list. I need to pass this on to all my engaged friends. It's so easy to just go crazy with that little scanner gun!

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    1. Oh yeah! We did it too, but if I could do it again...

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  2. Great post. My in-laws just moved into a new place and I helped getting their registry set up. Since their house burned down, they lost everything and were basically starting all over again. I totally agree with buying small items that will be needed and used as opposed to those in bundles. Wish I had done that when I got married lol :)

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  3. That's a great idea..registry with greater good..eco friendly!

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  4. Isn't it funny the things we think of AFTER we have done the registry. Ohh what we should have known! This was great!

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