Shopping is all fun and games until you have to do it en masse, with someone else’s buy-in, under a time constraint. In other words, until you have to create a wedding registry. Which of course led to my fiancé and I waiting until the last possible minute (as in, our invites were in the mail) to put ours together.
It must first be said that the fact that friends and family are willing to shell out on table linens and blenders and a tiny ceramic salt cellar with a matching tiny spoon just because they love you is absolutely not something to complain about. But it’s also true that we felt paralyzed by the absurd amount of choices at our fingertips, especially given we had already lived together for more than a year, slowly accumulating the everyday items you’d typically ask for.
It all begged the question: What did cool creatives do when they were in our position? So I straight up asked five married people with incredible taste to share their wedding registry ideas. Read on for the strategies they used and the tips they picked up in the process—unlike that industrial coffee machine that takes up half your countertop, you won’t regret it.
Camilla Blackett & Doug Singer
Years married: Two
Curation strategy: We knew we wanted to do a honeymoon fund since we’d been living together for years, so it’s not as if we needed a toaster or anything. Plus the honeymoon was going to be something we’d remember forever as opposed to a waffle maker that may break down in three years.
Top tip: Don’t register for items just because that’s what you think is expected of you. For instance, don’t ask for a Vitamix if you don’t ever drink smoothies. Ask for things you know you’ll both enjoy and use as a couple. We once went to a wedding where the couple had a home renovation fund.
Registry regret: None. We had the most joyous time and would do it again every summer.
Kate & Ian Berry
Years married: 14.5
Curation strategy: We wanted to give guests a lot of options to choose something they liked and we liked, so we registered for both casual and finer pieces at many different price points. We spread our registry across three different stores: Gump’s, a San Francisco department store; Williams Sonoma; and a local antiques shop.
Top tip: Registering for practical things like vacuum cleaners or towels wasn’t really an option when we got married, but it is now. Do it!
Registry regret: Sometimes I think I shouldn’t have registered for my Limoges china, because I rarely use it. But when I do, it has so much nostalgia and makes me think about that time in my life, and then I don’t regret it.
Pilar Guzmán & Chris Mitchell
Years married: 21
Curation strategy: We were the least strategic wedding planners in marital history. We basically did everything out of order—we bought our first apartment together and renovated it two years before we were married. We are both inveterate collectors, cooks, and design lovers, so our nest was fairly resolved. We pretty much had everything but the KitchenAid stand mixer (thanks, über-practical cousin Cosette!), so we registered for things we really loved at the late, great Moss, which was more like a design museum than a store. I still mourn the loss of a Hella Jongerius bowl with a hand-painted ship on the inside that my best friend’s dad got for us. From a distance it looked like traditional blue and white china. Up close it hewed closer to the Japanese wabi-sabi tradition. Sadly it broke in a move.
Top tip: Our strategy was to ask for totally impractical stuff that was just out of range for us as young professionals barely making rent.
Registry regret: I wish we had registered for sterling silver. It’s the one thing that’s hard to pull the trigger on. I promise I would use it every day and not just for special occasions.
Nick & Casey Axelrod-Welk
Years married: Two
Curation strategy: Our strategy was…looking at all of our friends’ registries, finding the best things they had, and adding them to ours. Seriously, rely on your already married friends who have great taste! We didn’t end up using an aggregator site like Zola, because we found them too limiting and potentially confusing for older folks. We just created four different very small registries on individual websites, all linked on our wedding website: Bloomingdale’s for kitchen basics, Heath Ceramics for dinnerware, Table Art in West Hollywood for glassware, and March in San Francisco for flatware and some chic serveware.
Top tip: Honestly, if you are on the fence [about an item], don’t add it. Also normal pots and pans and glassware you can purchase yourself over time. But an amazing ceramic Splatterware salad bowl for $300? A set of steak knives with pearl inlay details for $500? Perfect presents, in that you’d never get them for yourselves, and more important, they’re unique enough to make whomever’s giving them to you feel thoughtful about the gift. It’s always the worst when the only things left on the registry are, like, white bath towels, and you feel lame for giving such unexciting (albeit helpful) stuff. Make your guests feel cool and curate a selection of interesting serving bowls and platters made by craftspeople from around the world. Plus small businesses and global artisans need the money! Win-win.
Registry regret: We loved the look of our Heath Ceramics x Chez Panisse dishes and plates, but we didn’t check them out in person. When we started using them, we realized they were so heavy and took up so much space in the dishwasher. Pro tip: Try before you buy (or register) to make sure you really like not just the look but also the feel (and weight) of what you’re asking for.
Caitlin Mociun & Tammer Hijazi
Years Married: 2.5 years
Curation Strategy: I don’t know if we had much strategy. We ended up putting some random house and kitchen things on our registry, but really we just wanted some money to help with our home renovation.
Top Tip: I like the extra pots and pans, but I honestly didn’t really need them! I would have done more research and made more of an effort to put less stuff on there. It’s just hard to do when you are planning your actual wedding!
Registry Regret: I think we would have just done better making a bunch of cash funds for projects for our house in upstate New York. We could have linked particular tiles or furniture, for example, so people could contribute to a specific piece or room.