Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What to put on your Wedding Registry (and what to avoid)

I've thought a lot about what to put on our baby registry this year, and in the process of getting all the advice from moms about what products they love, I thought I should write a post of advice for wedding registries. After all, that's what I actually have some experience and perspective on... maybe in five years I can write one on baby registries!

Of course, my perspective is best for young couples, not those that are established and already have their own stocked homes when they marry. When Isaac and I got married we were stocking an apartment for the first time and expecting to have a mobile lifestyle for the next few years as we continued to pursue education and figure out where to go and what to do. So - my recommendations reflect that type of lifestyle

Do Get
A good set of everyday dishes, glasses, and silverware. These will take beating, so get something that will last and isn't easily breakable. Don't get overly unique things or they'll go out of style. Don't get huuuuge plates or your dinners will look tiny on them and you'll end up eating too much. Get a double set so you have plenty of dishes on a busy week or when you're having a party.

A good knife set. Fine, I admit it. I sold Cutco in college. They made me a believer in the need for some good knives. Get a good paring knife for fruit and small stuff. Get a good butcher knife. Get a good bread knife. And get a good all purpose knife. Cutco, Henkels... something of that quality. That'll last you 30 years.

A good blender. That crushes ice. This is rare. In fact, I haven't found one I like, but I constantly wish I had a good one. *sigh*.

A mixer. A cheap one works (that's what I got and it's sufficient), but if you're someone that loves to cook and bake, take advantage of the registry and shoot for a kitchenaid. That'd last you for years. I don't have one and I sometimes get kitchenaid envy. :)

Good pots! This is kind of like knives. You use these constantly and you can buy cheap ones, but they'll be crap in a couple of years, so you might as well get a good set when someone else is paying for it. If you cook a lot you might want specialty stuff, but a basic set of non-stick is good. I added a square flat pan that I use all the time for pancakes, grilled cheese, quesadillas, etc. I also got a smaller version of a wok - with flared edges, and I use that all the time for stir-frys and the like. I pretty much use all my pans on a regular basis. .

Nice serving dishes. A pretty, fancy, salad bowl, a sophisticated water pitcher, a few pretty serving bowls, etc. I didn't think to ask for these buy my aunt got me all of them from Crate and Barrel in a sleek crystal style, and I've loved them.

An awesome Vacuum Cleaner.  There is a lot of room between your average vacuum cleaner and the nice ones. Everyone who has the nicest ones LOVES them. If you will have carpet, it's worth it to get something that you can use for years instead of replace every year, like Isaac and I have.

A nice bed set... and a mattress topper. My in-laws told us that having a nice mattress was top priority. We neglected to follow this direction and I didn't regret it - for five years we lived with a mattress, frame, and box springs that we got for $10 off Craigslist, and it's served us well. We don't have back or sleep problems. However, for my birthday this year we got a memory foam mattress topper, and it is HEAVEN. Love it. So... if you don't want to get a fancy mattress, just get a mattress topper and you'll still sink into bed at night. Of course you need a comforter and bed linen set. Get something cute since the bed is the center of the the bedroom decor. And then... take care of your comforter.

A nice towel set. Crappy towels disintegrate super fast. I don't know where you buy high quality towels - anyone have suggestions? But in any case, invest in a nice set for your bathroom, and include a few cute matchy matchy bath decor items, but don't worry too much about those because you can buy super cheap cute decor... the towels are the important part.

A nice coffee maker. Okay fine, that's just me. I'm sort of a coffee appliance freak. But really, what better way to make your spouses day than to make a nice cup of coffee in the morning? And when you have guests over, they'll love it.

Don't Get....
A china set. In my opinion, it's too expensive and going out of style. It's not necessary to have china for a nice holiday meal anymore, and if you do decide you want some, you can buy a set at an estate sale or something. Mostly, though, it's going to sit in storage and take up space, which is a shame considering it would probably have been the most expensive thing on your registry.

Other Appliances: Americans are appliance crazy, and most people end up with appliances they don't actually use.  Keep in mind that if you decide you want to experiment with an appliance later on, they make great birthday and Christmas requests. A bread maker is cool, but will you use it? Same with a crock-pot, counter-top grill, rice-cooker, sandwich press, etc. I'm not saying don't get ANY other appliances, but avoid registering for anything that might be fun sometime. You'll just end up with clutter.

Expensive matching furniture to fit your new apartment. You'll probably be moving, styles will change, and you might get a house that needs different furniture. I think newlyweds can go with cheaper but stylized furniture (think Ikea-ish) and then you don't feel bad selling it when you truly start to settle down and buy for long term....or when you move out of country like we plan to.

Spice Rack. Skip it. Spices lose their spice after a while, and you want to buy what you need. The racks usually have about half spices you don't need, which is such a waste.

Most other things are negotiable. What am I missing? Any specific advice from you, dear readers? Anything you completely disagree with me about?


Camels & Chocolate said...

I'm so glad we didn't put fine china on ours. Instead we put a set of Delby pottery-looking dishes that we use for everyday meals but could also be used for a dinner party. The funny thing? Of all the hundreds of gifts we got, not a person gave us a dish! Luckily, we did get a lot of gift cards and used our registry completion discount to buy six place settings (hopefully we'll add more to that over the years).

What no one tells you is that despite what you register for, you'll get more wine glasses than you can possibly use in a lifetime!

junglewife said...

NOOOO!!! Not KitchenAid! Actually, if you are not doing a LOT of baking, KA is probably fine. But if you are doing a LOT of baking from scratch, buy a Bosch. It also comes with a wonderful blender (that crushes ice!) so you are two-for-one. Seriously, I LOVE my Bosch. Big puffy heart kind of love. And I used it every day, usually multiple times a day. But I am not the usual person, since I live overseas and cook EVERYTHING from scratch! But that's just my two cents.

I love Lands End for good quality towels.

I'll have to think on the rest of it, time to go give the girls a bath!

Katie said...

We have most of these items so we registered for more expensive items like a new dining room set and couch. We used http://www.simpleregistry.com/wedding for our registry and it allowed us to split up the cost of an items into multiple pieces. Otherwise, the list you have is definitely a great start for a couple starting with little stuff! Thanks for the great blog!

Lauren said...

I agree with all of this, except the crock-pot. I have two because I use them SO much that one is always dirty (true, one is a hand-me-down from my mother and the other was a Christmas gift) but you get the idea. I think for appliances, you have to be real with your self about what you will use. We have a blender, I think, but I'v never used it. We also have a sandwitch maker I've never taken out of the box. Still trying to figure out a way to get rid of it without the hubby noticing (he's the one that wanted it)
I love what you said about china. My grandmother was appalled we didn't get a china set and I was like, but I know we will never use it. And it's true. We have a set of nice white correll (easy to replace the broken ones) and with the right table setting, they look fancy for fancy dinners or everyday for everyday dinners. Also, I got most of my special servings plates at thrift shops or yard sales. You can find unique pieces for uber cheap. For that, I've stuck with a color theme (white and blue) so the pieces are different but they work together. This is great advice!

Kacie said...

Bosch, huh? I'll have to look into that! Lauren, I use my crock pot consistently but I know a number of women who never do. You're right, you have to know your own style of cooking. I use the blender all the time for creamed soups and for smoothies.

I can't wait to have a real dining room table to serve guests on... then I'll get a real collection of my own personalized serving dishes.

cclarebear said...

Maybe it's just me and this is probably really unpopular but I'm not really into registries - I have everything I need already, because I've been living out of home for a while.

I have dishes and pots and blenders and etc etc... I dunno. I just think its a bit old-fashioned to have to ask for things that you should already have if you're living by yourself.

Or - and ok granted this is probably for those of us who are non-religious - if you're already living with the person you intend to marry and have bought all those things together anyway.

And... if most people aren't getting married at 18 and have been living by themselves for a few years anyway, and still want a wedding registry then surely that's the moment to ask for all the fun stuff they haven't had a chance to buy - like nice china and ice cream makers and foot spas... :P

Kacie said...

Clare, does not everyone do them in Australia? Everyone does them here... even if they don't need stuff, it's just what people expect, so they know what to buy for the couple. Sometimes you'll have couples specify on their invitation that they want cash gifts only, but most people have registries. And yeah, like I said, my advice goes for people that are young and getting established, and it doesn't really work when you've been settled for a while...

Kelley said...

I so agree about the spice rack. It gets dirty easily sitting on the counter, half the spices are things I just don't use. Somehow I thought this was a big money saver to have them bought all at once.

I also totally agree about knives. My mom got me my first Cutco 3 years ago and I use it for everything. Things it should never be used for b/c I love it so much. So this year, right before we left, Nate gave me the gift of two more Cutco knives. And I'm waiting, waiting for them to be delivered in July when I see Nate's family in Jamaica. I had the sanuko and can't wait for my french chef, serrated (or double d not serrated whatever it's called), and cheese knife!

I would make an ammendment to the pot comment. I end up buying new non-stick skillets about every three years or so. I decided, why buy nice ones. I try super hard to be good to mine - no metal touches them, I wait until they are completely cool to put water in them, etc. and they still turn gummy and start to loose their finish. So I was talking to my mom about this and she said that America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated agrees. Don't invest in non-stick skillets. Buy something cheap, but that has a heavy bottom for even heating and just replace b/cv you'll have to either way. Makes me feel much less guilty this way and I know it's not my fault when they fall apart.

Also a food processor. I didn't register for one and I can think of 1 million and 1 times I could have used it. I just got one for Christmas and I can't wait to unpack it. Bring on the baby dough, pie crusts, cheese to shred, slaws and potato au gratin recipes!

Sturgmom said...

Someone told me when I got married that that would be the nicest towels we would ever own in our married life. And she was right. We registered for super nice towels and 10 years later we're just now needing to replace some. With Target brand. And the Target brand isn't NEARLY as nice.

And I'm with the others who said you should have a crockpot. And I'd add a hand blender. We use our hand blender more than a regular blender for soups, beans, salsa, etc.

Kacie said...

Well, I definitely use my crock pot... but not everyone does! My roomate had two and gave both away because she never used them.

A hand blender is something I want - do you have a brand to recommend?

junglewife said...

Just a few more thoughts here:

I know a lot of people have had trouble with non-stick pots but I am not one of those. We bought a set of hard-anodized Calphalon with our wedding money and are STILL using them almost 11 years later! I also have a cheap-o non-stick skillet/frypan that Dan bought when he was living single at Moody one summer, and we are still using it with no problems!

I have a Cuisinart hand blender and love it. It also came with a whisk attachment and a food processor attachment. There are some good ones listed on www.pleasanthillgrain.com (that is also where I bought my Bosch mixer - have used the blender once already today and am getting ready to make pizza dough with it... am not kidding when I say I use it multiple times every day!!! It is SO worth the money!) But I didn't get my hand blender from that website, I got this one: http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-KHB300WH-Hand-Blender-White/dp/B00008GSAB/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1296455401&sr=8-8

I have to add that Lands' End is great for things like sheets and stuff, too. They are a bit more expensive than finding sales at Kohls but they are worth it, and their products are unconditionally guaranteed. So if you ever want to return it, for any reason, you are covered.

junglewife said...

Never mind. I lied. I have a KitchenAid hand blender, not a Cuisinart. I guess I looked up Cuisinart but the link I posted is for the right one. It seems like I paid less than that for it, though... maybe $50 or so...