Four years. That is how long my fiancé and I will have lived together when we tie the knot this September.
As soon as we announced our engagement, one of the first questions folks asked us — after the who, what, where, when, and how — was whether or not we would have a wedding registry.
In my mind I thought, “Well, yeah, why wouldn’t I? Just because we live together does not make me any less of a bride. I want a traditional bridal shower just like anyone else.” Super defensive.
They were asking because Justin and I have already begun to make a home together and in their eyes, we have everything we could possibly need. What they don’t see, though, is that nearly all of our furniture, kitchen tools, decor, etc. are hand-me-downs that don’t necessarily fit our style and much of what we bought ourselves is cheap and not of good quality because that’s what we could afford.
I think a lot of modern couples who live together before marriage experience this same limbo that we are in. Yes, we have towels, sheets, pots, and pans, but after four years, our towels have holes, we’re down to one set of sheets, we have one good frying pan, and none of our pots have lids.
As we start this new adventure together as husband and wife, we naturally want to update some of our stuff, add things to our home that we will treasure for years to come, and perhaps get some of the household essentials we use most. You’re probably scratching your head on the last one — it will make sense soon.
Registry Tip No. 1
Decide where you’re going to register.
We chose to forgo stores like Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, and Pottery Barn because we’re just not that classy. Instead, we stuck to Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond, and we also created a Disney honeymoon registry.
Target and BBB have everything we need and want at affordable prices. Plus, they offer great registry perks. For example, after our big day, we will receive a discount on remaining registry items not purchased.
Many retailers offer comparable incentives and perks to couples. Do your research and pick stores that meet your needs.
Registry Tip No. 2
Utilize technology to build your registry.
Physically going to a store and using the scanner gun to register for gifts is a fun adventure many couples look forward to before their wedding. We did it at BBB just to get the experience, but I much preferred finishing out my BBB wish list online at bedbathandbeyond.com.
The website has way more options than the brick and mortar store and I was able to read reviews of products while I “shopped.”
We skipped the store-issued scanner gun completely at Target. I created our registry account online at target.com and then downloaded the Target gift registry app to my phone. It allows me to scan barcodes of items I like in the store and add them to our registry. That way, if I am in Target doing my regular shopping and come across something I want to register for, I just open the app on my phone and scan whatever it is. BBB has a similar function on their app, but I have not used it at much as the Target app.
Registry Tip No. 3
Make a list of the items in your home you use most often — bath towels, bedding, pillows, dish towels, dishes, food storage containers, etc. — that could stand to be replaced. For us, it was all of the above.
Adding these items to your registry first is a great place to start. And make sure to add them to all the registries you create. We picked out towels, bedding, and table linens that we liked at BBB, and then did the same thing at Target. Essentially, you’re creating the possibility of receiving multiples of certain items, but different people prefer to shop at different stores.
Registry Tip No. 4
Add items you REALLY want but don’t necessarily expect someone to buy.
We have a GoPro on our Target registry. Do we actually think someone is going to drop $300 on that for us? Of course not. But because Target offers a 15 percent discount on all registry items not purchased after the wedding, a GoPro might be something we want to buy to take with us on our Disney honeymoon, and now we will get it at a discount.
Other over-the-top things we added include a KitchenAid stand mixer, rugs, an outdoor umbrella for the patio table we already own, and small furniture.
Registry Tip No. 5
Register for household items such as laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, batteries, and flashlights.
When I told my dad that I put bleach and toilet paper on my registry, he actually told me I couldn’t do that.
Why not? Make fun of me all you want, but that is stuff we use every single day — or almost daily. I think it is a genius idea to include them.
Household essentials on our Target registry:
Hydrogen peroxide & rubbing alcohol
Toilet bowl cleaner
Scotch-Brite dishwand refills
Windex (refill bottle)
Dawn dish soap (refill bottle)
Batteries (AA, AAA, and 9V)
First aid kit
Disinfecting wipes (225 count)
Paper Towels (12 mega rolls)
Trash bags (100 count)
Toilet paper (176 count)
Registry Tip No. 6
Gift cards. Target usually has a massive section of gift cards for restaurants and other retailers.
Go ahead and put a few of those on your registry so you and your partner can have a free date night down the road.
We decided against adding restaurant gift cards since we typically don’t eat at places like Chili’s and Applebees (we like to dine at local joints when we can), but we did register for multiple Disney Gift Cards that we can use on our honeymoon or to help pay for the vacation.
Don’t forget to include gift cards to the retailers you’re registered at, too. Those will help you purchase any items left on your registry after the wedding.
Registry Tip No. 7
If there is one thing our home lacks it is storage and organization. We have nice, big closets, but they are in no way organized; our pantry is a disaster; and the cabinets under our kitchen and bathroom sinks are a mess.
That is why we added a ton of storage and organization items that will help us in our current rental home and will also be useful when we purchase a home in the future.
On both our Target and BBB registries I have items such as clothes hangers (we never have enough), a 4-tier shelving unit to put in our master bedroom closet, a rolling cart that fits between the washer and dryer, Christmas ornament and decoration storage containers, an expandable wall mount organizer for mops and brooms, underbed garment storage bags, shoe racks (Justin has a ton of shoes), and an over-the-door rack for the pantry.
Registry Tip No. 8
Don’t just think about what you want/need now, think ahead to the future.
Because you already live together, you probably have a solid idea of what you probably need now for dinner parties with friends and down the road when you’re hosting holiday meals for the entire family.
With this in mind, I included serving bowls, platters, and utensils; a gravy boat (who have I become?); nice table linens; a carving board for Thanksgiving turkeys; cheese boards and knives; and appetizer servers.
Something else you might not have thought of for the future — beach chairs, beach towels, and campaign gear. Even if you have been together for the better part of a decade, these are things you might not have that will certainly come in handy down the road.
Registry Tip No. 9
Forget the fine China, unless that is your thing, of course.
One of the many things I have learned since I began dating a Yankee (I mean that in the most loving way possible) is the difference between Southern and Northern traditions.
And the use of fine China is certainly one of them.
In the South, at least in my family, we do not use China. It is for display purposes only. In Northern families, the China and silver are brought out for every holiday meal and carefully hand washed after each use.
I inherited a China pattern (that I will never use) from my maternal grandmother, so it never crossed my mind to register for any.
Instead, I added a lovely casual dinnerware set that we will use every day and that will last forever (or for as long as we take care of them and we take immaculate care of our stuff.)
The plates and bowls we have now are nice, but the only reason I bought them is because they were the cheapest I could find at HomeGoods.
Registry Tip No. 10
Opt for nice barware and other pieces for entertaining guests.
If you’re like us and enjoy having friends over for drinks, you might consider updating your wine, whiskey, martini, and beer glasses.
I have had my eyes on a certain set of Riedel red wine glasses for several years, so naturally that was the first thing I registered for at BBB. Those will be our fancy glasses, reserved for the two of us. However, I also registered for some fun Kate Spade wine and champagne glasses for when my best friend is over and we’re sharing a bottle of Barefoot.
As I mentioned in tip No. 8, appetizer servers are great to add if you enjoy hosting guests.
Couples who already share a living space have a solid idea of what they need and want to make this new chapter of life even better, and I feel that a lot of the traditional wedding registry “helpful hints” are not designed with those couples in mind. Hopefully you and your partner find these tips helpful when you begin building your wedding registry.