Raise your hand if you’ve ever been overwhelmed by Bed Bath & Beyond. Yep, me too. This store is like a warehouse with it’s triple-vaulted ceilings and products stacked and stocked all the way to the top. There are 17 choices of can openers, 40 different garbage cans, and endless patterns of dishes, china, and silverware.
Now, I do love this store. It has everything you could ever need. (I especially love the one near our apartment, because it has a beauty/bath section and a mini World Market right inside!) And those 20% off coupons that come in the mail every single week? I’m in love. But trying to navigate this—or any—store when creating a wedding registry can be a frazzling experience.
If you’re a minimalist, if you like to live simply, or if you’re just plain overwhelmed by the wedding registry process, here are a few of my favorite tips for creating a simple registry. Most of these tips will work well if you’re trying to build up the basics of your home. If you happen to be coming into marriage with many household items already, consider what you want to upgrade or skip to numbers 7 and 8.
1. Register for what you’ll need in the first year, not what you’ll need for the next 20 or 30 years. Here’s the thing: you’re not going to get everything you registered for. You’re better off registering for less by considering what you’ll need this year rather than registering for everything you might need someday. Because as we know with decluttering, one of the biggest ways to accumulate and keep on hoarding is to say “I might need this someday.” Someday doesn’t always look the way we think it will. And if you still want whatever the item is in 10 or 15 years, your tastes will likely have changed and you can get something you really love.
2. Consider the size of the place where you’ll be living. Are you going to be living in a studio apartment? A two-bedroom townhouse? With your in-laws? You don’t want to have to rent a storage unit to hold all the wedding gifts. This kind of goes with number one—register for your immediate needs.
3. Register for your actual lifestyle, not the one you wish you had. Who doesn’t love the idea of china, balloon-bottomed red wine glasses, stemware for fancy cocktails, linen napkins, and chargers? The idea of having a perfectly set table is fun to think about. But I rarely (actually, never) host dinner parties. My friends and I are pizza-on-paper-plates and beer-out-of-bottles people while we sit outside by a fire. And I like it that way. We didn’t want to register for the things that just don’t fit the way we like to live and entertain.
4. Take stock of what you already have, and then register for items that fill in the holes or that replace things that are worth upgrading. We needed to register for dishes and silverware because neither of us had any. My pots and pans were busted up and old, so we registered for a few quality cast iron pieces. Dan had some really classy Chicago Bears and Bulls drinking glasses from college. The day we went to register, he pulled them out and said, “Look at these! We don’t even need to register for a set of glasses!” Um, these were worth upgrading. Not necessary . . . but worth it.
5. Resist the cutesy things. Oh my word, there are so many cute and tiny little appetizer trays and servers and glasses, and I wanted them all! But do you know when the last time was that I needed little tasting spoons to serve tiny quiches? Never.
6. Register for limited decor items. Caveat: Ignore this if you pretty much already have the basics and you already live where you’re going to live after the wedding as well. When we registered, we had no idea where we’d be living or what we wanted our home to look like. We registered for just a few picture frames and a couple lamps that we knew would work with the bedding I already had.
7. Decide what can be low-end, mid-range, and high-end. You definitely want to register for things that will last, and a wedding registry is a great opportunity to build up quality pieces when you’re not the one paying for the quality. On the other hand, the more expensive each item is, the less you’ll get from your registry. Consider which things need to be high-end and which don’t. We registered for pretty much mid-range everything but made sure each item had good reviews and was made of solid materials. For example, we picked out all stainless-steel cooking utensils from BB&B and some durable, functional dishes from Crate & Barrel. The one high-end item we registered for was a Kitchen-Aid mixer, and even so, we chose a mid-range model rather than an artisan-style mixer.
8. Consider registering for donations or experiences. If you already have much of what you need, or if you want to go seriously minimalist, consider a non-traditional registry. The I Do Foundation allows you to create a charitable registry, and So Kind Registry has a whole host of options to choose from—you can register for gifts of time (for example, people can sign up to help you move), experiences, handmade gifts, and charitable donations. You can even request day-of-wedding helpers—a creative way to minimize wedding costs and stuff!