Getting married: what goes in the registry?
March 24, 2012 1:50 PM   Subscribe

My fiancée and I are getting married in a few months, and it's been suggested that we look at gift registries. Aside from asking for help paying for the honeymoon or gifts to charity, we can't figure out what to register for.

We've both lived both by ourselves and with roommates, so we don't really need many things (like pots, pans, or sheets) that couples tend to register for.

For those of you who have been married: what did you wish you registered for? What was overrated?
posted by oostevo to Shopping (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I will be the annoying person that suggests you say 'in lieu of gifts please donate to the American Cancer Society' or whichever charity/ies you prefer. My friends who married later in life did this and I think it was a really nice idea.
posted by bquarters at 1:53 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I registered for a good set of knives, bamboo cutting boards, and a waffle iron. My husband added a big TV.

Everything else was either cash for needs specific to our needs (like, I didn't have a driving license so my parents and his helped me pay for driving school and the tests -- since I was moving to his place in the country we really needed me to drive!), or donations.

Someone got us some coupons for where we were staying, and someone else got us a gift cert for our 6 mo anniversary, which I thought was nice.

Word to the wise: we only registered for like 4 or 5 things. His mom and mine are STILL mailing us random "housewarming" gifts, so... be prepared for random presents!
posted by spunweb at 1:56 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you moving into a new joint place together? Will you be doing any redecorating/remodeling? I've known people in your situation who register at Home Depot or the like, to get supplies to help them spruce up their new home. (Tools, wood, lawnmower, etc.)

Or, yes, the honeymoon registry, which could be really fun for you and help you save some money!
posted by Bella Sebastian at 2:05 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a chance to get dishes and silverware and glasses of fairly good quality.

Nice sheets? Use your existing ones for guest beds?

Nice towels?

A really good vacuum.
posted by k8t at 2:07 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

It is never okay to tell people to give you money. Please, go generic. Register at a department and/or home store.

An associate will help you in deciding what to register for. Do not register for expensive items with the plan to return them for store credit. That is tacky.

You will always need good towels and bed linen. You can put curtains, rugs, pillows, etc. on your list as well.

Choose a nice every day dish that you both love and register for a set of 12. Same with utensils.

High end cooking things are always nice. Knives, spatulas, kitchen gadgets, etc.

Try to get a good mix of inexpensive to expensive items. Your aunt might only be able to buy one plate from your set while an uncle will get you a bread machine.
posted by myselfasme at 2:11 PM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

Yeah, in retrospect, even though we had everything already, I wish we had taken the opportunity to get nice, grown-up (matching set!) versions. Sheets, towels, silverware... It's a nice chance to start afresh and those are significant enough purchases that it can be hard to bite the bullet on your own later on. These will be things you use everyday, and I think it is nice to have these items be gifts from those who love you.
posted by munichmaiden at 2:16 PM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Do you drink wine? Friends of mine registered at a wine shop, with bottles ranging from 15ish to a few hundred bucks on there.

My husband and I registered for a lot of board games.
posted by gaspode at 2:17 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you "register" for books? Or something else similar that you'd like?

I think a lot depends on your relations with your friends and family. Some people think it's super-tacky to ask for money - and I agree that it is when you're asking casual friends or distant family - but I, for example, would give my broke friends money as a wedding present in a heartbeat because I want to give them something they need. With your closest circle, ask for what you want because they will probably be more concerned with your specific situation than with tradition.

I would also second getting high-end knives and pots - I have several really fancy knives that I got as presents fifteen years ago and they are still going strong. I recommend KitchenAid stainless steel pans too - I have one that I thrifted a few years ago and it's fantastic (but they are almost never in the thrift stores.) Also, a Le Creuset stovetop-to-oven enamel stockpot and other Le Creuset enameled ironware. You will find ten million uses for the medium-sized round lidded one if you cook at all, everything from stews to shepard's pie to baked sweets.
posted by Frowner at 2:20 PM on March 24, 2012

Board games! We added a couple two person board games that we could enjoy together on our list. (On preview, +1 to board games)

Other ideas: tools, toolbox, nicer glasses, castiron skillet, geeky home decor from ThinkGeek, things you can always use a spare of, like glasses, broom, hammer, pillow cases, cleaning supplies...
posted by ninjakins at 2:21 PM on March 24, 2012

Look for registries outside of the usual Macy's and Crate and Barrel. My wife and I like outdoors stuff so we registered at REI. Among other things we were able to pay for half a canoe with gift cards we received.

Perhaps there's an activity you enjoy. Find a store that caters to that activity and see if they have a registry.
posted by bondcliff at 2:28 PM on March 24, 2012

Response by poster: Look for registries outside of the usual Macy's and Crate and Barrel. My wife and I like outdoors stuff so we registered at REI. Among other things we were able to pay for half a canoe with gift cards we received.

That's a good idea. I didn't mention it, but we're both pretty serious climbers, so we've registered for most of a new climbing rack at REI. What I'm not, however, is a very good homemaker, so I wanted to make sure I wan't missing anything obvious.
posted by oostevo at 2:33 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

People say you have to register, but we didn't, and indicated on the invitations that people's company and help in making memories was much more than enough of a gift. Out of ~50 guests we got a picture frame and maybe one or two other things and that's it - worked out great.
posted by ftm at 2:43 PM on March 24, 2012

Where you choose to register also gives people an idea of what stores you'd like to get gift cards from. We registered at Target and ended up with a couple hundred dollars worth of gift cards, which have been useful for everything from new bookshelves to everyday groceries, leaving us with more money to spend on random cute home decor stuff that we find in small local stores or online, stuff we wouldn't have been able to register for.
posted by vytae at 2:46 PM on March 24, 2012

The nice thing about registering somewhere like Target is that you can register for more than housewares. The most recent friend of mine that got married had camping equipment, board games, bikes, movies, books, blue-ray player, etc. on it.

I had a lot more fum picking out a tent and a board game than I would have picking out flatware.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:56 PM on March 24, 2012

Le Creuset dutch oven.
posted by nicwolff at 2:57 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who is a hardcore gardener who asked for things like a wheelbarrow, shovels, hoes, etc. That was pretty cool. I also know an older couple who registered only at Sherwin-Williams and got enough cans of paint to entirely redo their house - just what they wanted.
posted by naoko at 3:01 PM on March 24, 2012

I've been wondering this for our own wedding and I'm leaning towards not registering at all, (or maybe on etsy. Does etsy do registrations?)

We're adults and have most of the stuff we need, and our friends and family are all poor. I'd much rather have a handmade card than a gift that we don't really need and that probably put someone in debt to buy.

That said, I keeping fantasizing about registering for a plasma torch/cutter even though it's a little pricey for anyone to actually buy. It'd be pretty neat to have one, though.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:10 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite] You can split up your honeymoon plans into reasonable bites for folks to contribute to.
posted by pearlybob at 3:18 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It doesn't discourage people from giving cash. If you have a guest who prefers to do that, or is from a culture or region where it done as a matter of course, he'll give you cash. He won't even ask about your registry in all likelihood.

The other type -- people who don't give cash -- need to be directed in their generosity. The registry spares you and them from getting a pile of things you don't need or want and can't return (practically, or sometimes at all). In all likelihood if you don't register, or do a cash registry like honeyfund, people who don't like to give cash won't convert themselves, they'll just buy something that's cute at a boutique a thousand miles away from you.

You can and should register for items which are appropriate for the budgets of the majority of your guests, and if your guests are mostly people with money, still register for a few things that are inexpensive for the people who aren't, or don't have a personal practice of giving big gifts.

Having a non-traditiona registry (REI -- so cool!) is fine, but get a traditional one as well. Your 60 year old aunt who has only ever bought china, pots or a cooking appliance for newlyweds is not going to buy you a sleeping bag.
posted by MattD at 3:25 PM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Shit that I or some of my friends made it to 30 without owning:

A real, non-dustbuster vacuum cleaner.
A coatrack.
Decent non-wire hangers.
A nice chef's knife.
A cast-iron pan.
A folding rack to dry clothes on that can't be tumble-dried.
A set of wineglasses, if you've always just had one or two and drunk out of mason jars when you had guests.
A rack to store wine bottles in.
Curtains, if you've always just had blinds.
Enough blankets and quilts to have houseguests stay the night in the middle of winter.
A wooden cutting board.
A cocktail shaker if you drink cocktails.
A rice cooker.
An iron and ironing board.
A wall clock.
An electric heating pad or hot water bottle.
A proper first-aid kit.
Basic hand tools and a cordless drill.
A pocket knife or Leatherman.
A steel or stone to sharpen knives on.
Shoe polish and a brush and cloth and a tacklebox to keep it all in.
A jewelery box or a thing to store makeup in.
A rechargeable flashlight and a rechargeable battery-powered radio to use in a power outage.
A good sturdily bound set of highway maps.
A paper shredder.
An air mattress and one of those battery-operated inflators.
A tire gauge.
Nice sturdy luggage.
An external hard drive to back up important shit on.
A filing cabinet.
An air-conditioner.
A toaster/blender/microwave/whatever that sucks less than your current shitty-ass toaster/blender/microwave/whatever that you've been using since you were 19.

It's okay to register for some expensive stuff, as long as you register for some cheap stuff too. It's totally okay to register for small practical shit that you could buy yourself, as long as you haven't gotten off your ass and done it — the "gift" there is that someone else makes the trip to K-Mart for you and you don't have to. It's okay to register for stuff that you don't technically need as long as you're actually going to use it and it will give you a bit of a quality-of-life boost.

As for what's overrated? You probably don't need any of the special single-purpose kitchen gadgets. No cherry pitter, no melon baller, no adorable corn-shaped corn-cob-impalers, no full set of lobster-claw-shaped nutcrackers. You probably don't need more than one kind of fork, or more than one kind of wineglass. If you haven't been inclined to throw any big formal dinner parties yet, you don't need twelve identical place settings' worth of everything. You don't need napkin rings and you probably don't need coasters. If you're not the sort of person who cares about high thread-count sheets, don't let them convince you that you secretly are that sort of person.

And don't register for anything where you want to make a careful decision on precisely which brand and which style to get, because you won't have time to actually research it and make a careful decision.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:33 PM on March 24, 2012 [9 favorites]

We didn't register for anything. We specifically asked for no gifts on the invitations. Some people bought us stuff anyway, but not an overwhelming amount of stuff.

Don't just register for a bunch of random crap because people on metafilter suggested it (like a Dutch oven. If you've never used one before you're not going to now, either).
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:59 PM on March 24, 2012

I have two lovely sets of china that are very pretty to look at. I rarely use either of them, though.

Everyday dishes, though, are a great idea. If you're like me, you might have plenty of actual plates and stuff, but how many actually match? You both have some plates and bowls, a few mugs, mismatched glasses, etc. So a nice set of the things you actually use? That would be cool.

Choose a nice every day dish that you both love and register for a set of 12. Same with utensils.

Twelve seems like a lot, but that makes sense. I just bought some myself for when we have family over, but even though I wanted ALL THE THINGS to match, I chose to have a couple sets in coordinating colors that could be used individually, pieces mixed up together or both entire sets used together. I'd get bored using EXACTLY THE SAME stuff every day (I'm weird like that, and it must run in the family, because my Mom has Homer Laughlin plates all in the same style but in a bunch of different, bright colors). I like to get creative and mix and match, but don't like doing dishes much; this way I can have one full set in the dishwasher and still have another to use.

I would register for individual pieces you'll actually use rather than place settings, too, if it were me. Realistically, even when having guests over we never use bread and butter plates. My guys turn up their noses at salad forks and dessert spoons; big, heavy utensils fit their hands. We opted for nice, deep bowls for soup or cereal, a creamer and sugar bowl for when our coffee-drinking parents visit, but said hell no to matching mugs and stuck with our odd but generously-sized, sentimental favorites.

Completely out of left field idea: Artwork for your walls, that you can have fun picking out, and family or friends could pitch in to get you.
posted by misha at 4:05 PM on March 24, 2012

We took the chance to regist for nice ergonomic kitchen tools like can openers, peelers, etc., and still use them 10 years later.
posted by bq at 4:42 PM on March 24, 2012

We didn't register for good knives, and having crappy knives has plagued us ever since.

We didn't register for china/crystal/silver but the dinnerware we registered for from Williams-Sonoma lasted a full decade, and we still use the bigger pieces. We haven't missed not having china/crystal/silver. I ended up inheriting my parents' china, and we never use it.

We did register for a steamer. It lasted about three uses before it broke down. Three uses over a year. Totally not worth it.

Only get a rice cooker if a) you love rice, and/or b) you are terrible at cooking rice (like me).

Do put a food processor on there. I regret not putting one on. Only put a big Kitchen-Aid mixer on the list if you are an avid baker. I think we use ours maybe twice a year (though being a Kitchen-Aid mixer it's pretty durable -- my mother's is still rolling after 32 years).

I do recommend putting some high-end cookware on there just because someone will buy it, and seriously, a good casserole or Dutch oven lasts forever.

We registered at REI (as well as Williams-Sonoma and Bed Bath and Befuddled) and got exactly one thing from the REI list (tho this was the late 90s before REI really had an East Coast and Midwest presence). OTOH, we got a ton from W-S.

One thing I discovered is that people really want to give you things you use every day. We ended up with a lot of towels. Be ready for that -- register for GOOD linens -- towels, sheets, and dish towels.
posted by dw at 5:24 PM on March 24, 2012

Remember that you can register at Amazon. So that covers pretty much ANYTHING. And they have this universal registry where you can register for items on any other website, basically just list items from other sites.
posted by teragram at 5:36 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bits of our solution have already been mentioned, but we found this to be an etiquette nightmare.

So first of all, we had a website, because we really didn't want to mention ANYTHING about gifts on the invitation. The website had enough space on it for us to explain.

We said firstly, thanks for coming, we know it's expensive to come to a wedding so please don't buy as any gifts.
However, we knew that some people wanted to get us gifts, so we then added underneath how if you really wanted to get us something here is a link to our honeyfund list. This, as mentioned up thread, is a site where you can break up a honeymoon into exciting adventures of differing prices and then people give you cash. So, you basically can ask for cash without having to ask for some cash (which in the UK and I gather the US is always a bit frowned upon).

Below that we had a bit saying that we were aware that some people wanted to get us a physical gift, so here is an amazon wedding list.
That had things like small tools, board games, really nice cookware etc, we got a casserole, a stock pot and accidentally a giant catering size cake tin which doesn't fit in the oven, but seriously that is a misleading picture), fancy booze, a sewing box, a moka pot, a cheese!, but sadly no one bought us the pig. The point being that with the amazon list you really can just put anything on there. Most department store wedding registries are horribly overpriced and it is hard to find cheap things. With Amazon you can get reasonably priced things in all cost brackets. Also, you don't need to be limited to traditional wedding present stuff. (I mentioned the pig right... yeah, ok)

Then, after all that, we added that you could bring us anything else if you wanted to, and reiterated that nothing at all was a perfectly fine gift.
Given that the rules on wedding gift giving and wedding gift asking seem to vary massively between everywhere I was rather proud of hitting all the options, in the preferred order.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:16 PM on March 24, 2012

FWIW I think that Honeyfund and similar are excruciatingly tacky. If you have a registry, people can still give you cash if they want to, but asking for cash in any way is really not ok in my book. I appreciate that cultural norms on this vary, though.
posted by naoko at 6:37 PM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

Naoko- I'm getting married in May, and also felt that maybe Honeyfund may be a bit tacky. We went ahead and signed on anyway, and are finding that it's the ONLY thing from our three registries (+ Target and Amazon) that people have purchased from so far. People are really going for it, so I'm glad I ignored my gut.
posted by macrowave at 6:47 PM on March 24, 2012

As an aside, a friend used GiftRegistry360 to add things from Etsy, and any other online stores/ marketplaces that had things they were interested in, everything, on one registry.
posted by Laura in Canada at 7:14 PM on March 24, 2012

Are you a renter or a homeowner? If you're renting, you might consider asking for donations to a designated new house fund set up at your bank. True, it's still asking for money, but it also happens to be the most effective way to get newlyweds into their own place. Additionally, you guests can brag that they helped you buy your home.
posted by Gilbert at 9:25 PM on March 24, 2012

A friend had a limited gift list and asked for Ikea vouchers from anyone who didn't like things off the list, because what they really needed was a couple of big items of furniture. When you say what the vouchers are going towards I think that makes a difference for people who don't like to give cash - it becomes so they're not giving you cash, they're giving you, for example, 1/20 of a double bed.
posted by Coobeastie at 7:33 AM on March 25, 2012

I think it's a good idea to register (and even add a Honeyfund if you want), but only let people know it's there if they ask you (or your parents or one designated friend) about it. The tackiest thing is broadcasting your registry/desire for cash to everyone. The people who really want to donate to the fund or pick from the registry will ask about it and the person who wants to draw a picture of you and your spouse and frame it will still feel good about her gift. (And yes, I do still have the picture of me and Mr. Epps on my dresser.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:18 PM on March 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ok, as long if your asking about stuff rather than the Honeyfund/cash idea: I lived with my husband for 4 years before getting married and like you, we had everything we needed. That said, things break, get shabby and ruined, etc and once we had kids, there no longer seems to be extra cash for stuff that seems frivolous but we'd really like. I hate to seem materialistic and shallow, but the idea of registering for a wedding right now sounds like a dream (and maybe because I cook a lot). Here's what I'm glad I received from my wedding (that I wouldn't really have the cash to buy for myself right now):
* Kitchenaid mixer
* Nicer stuff for entertaining: a huge wooden salad bowl from Crate and Barrel, nice ceramic casserole dishes from William Sonoma that go from oven to table, a pretty cake stand, nice salad tongs/servers, cake server (things we never knew we would want when you have people over for dinner)
* Rice cooker (yes, I can't cook rice but am I ever glad I have this and have used it every week for 10 years )
* Pretty fancy throw blanket

If I were to get married tomorrow, I would think about:
* Le Creset dutch oven
* Wine glasses if you don't have them/ some other cocktail glasses if you don't have those
* A really great coffee grinder
* Ice cream maker
* Mandoline

And if you need some less expensive things for your list: placemats, serving utensils, mixing bowls, nice measuring cups, coffee cannister, tablecloths.
posted by biscuits at 6:54 PM on March 25, 2012

You know, picture frames are something I'm always annoyed about not having -- so if you register for anything, make sure you think about what you want to do with your wedding/honeymoon pictures, because we have a ton and right now they're just in a pile.
posted by spunweb at 2:12 PM on March 26, 2012

I love my Denby stoneware dishes - service for 8 and my mom has been buying me serving pieces since my wedding for gift occasions. My mother still uses the Denby stoneware she got when she married 45 years ago, and so I'm pretty confident mine will survive daily use for a long while. And I'll be ready for BIG parties later in life!

But yes, only register for the pieces you will actually use.

And good quality tools - I love my power drill, a shower gift that gets regular use & I wouldn't have bought myself.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 12:22 AM on April 10, 2012

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