You’re newly engaged and in the midst of wedding planning—now it’s time to start creating your wedding registry. If you’re like a lot of couples out there today, you already live together and therefore, might not need or want a lot of traditional registry items. After all, how many salt and pepper shakers or jam jars does one couple really need?
"People don't like clutter anymore," Nancy Lee, president of MyRegistry.com, tells Brides. "Because people don't like clutter, they think about the types of things that they register for a little bit differently these days. And they definitely are looking at it with a much broader mind."
Meet the Expert
Nancy Lee is the president of MyRegistry.com, a universal wedding registry website.
Before you start registering, it’s important to consider your lifestyle (particularly your living space—where are all the gifts going to go once they arrive?) and what the two of you value as a couple. Don’t just put china on your registry because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do. If you are never going to use it and it’s just going to take up space in your home, it’s a complete waste.
Instead, think about what’s missing in your home and what could be changed or upgraded. Consider how the two of you like to spend time together and focus on big-ticket items you want to save for. Once you’ve taken all of those elements into careful consideration, build a registry that supports your passions and goals as a couple but also gives your family and friends an easy-to-shop, thoughtful list to work from as they buy you something special in celebration of your forthcoming nuptials.
Here, Lee shares her expert tips and tricks on how to register if you already live together and offers good additions to your list.
Refresh or Supplement Items You Already Own
Whether you’ve only just started living together as a couple, or you have lived together for years, you probably already own a lot of the home essentials. Take this opportunity to upgrade items you already own. Register for the coffee maker you’ve always wanted or refresh your sheets and bath towels—these items make for great gifts and you will be able to enjoy these pieces in your day-to-day life as a couple. Additionally, you can use your registry to add to collections you might already have and love.
"People are using the gift registry to help them build things out," says Lee. "Maybe you’ll get the soup terrine you didn't have or the gravy bowl or those extra pieces of the types of dishes that you already have at home and love. This enables you to be able to take that more casual dinnerware, but turn it into something a little bit more expansive."
Focus On Hobbies You Enjoy Doing Together
Perhaps you don’t need (or want) much in the way of new home items—that’s entirely OK. Instead, focus on your hobbies and register for items that you’ll use frequently.
"Couples who are living together tend to take their gift registry and focus it more on hobbies," says Lee. "If your hobby is cooking together, then you're gonna see things like the pasta maker, the bread maker, the cool waffle machine ... things that they like to do together in the kitchen. But you're also going to see other couples whose hobbies are camping and you might see the double sleeping bag and the hammock on the registry."
Create a Mixed Registry
Put together a registry that incorporates more traditional registry items that people love to give, like plates and vases, along with cash funds, experiences, and hobby-related items. This gives your friends and family options to pick out something they are excited to give you.
"Traditionally, the whole point of the registry was to help the couple with their future life together," says Lee. "But that's taken such a broader meaning now. Let’s say a couple wants a piano or they want to remodel their kitchen, they will have a cash fund on their registry so people can contribute to that, but they will also have a traditional Bloomingdales registry on there. Then everyone wins."
Be Specific About Where the Cash Is Going
If it’s cash that you want, that’s entirely acceptable in this day and age, but be specific about what the cash fund is being used for. Honeymoon funds and home renovations are the most common, with many couples even breaking it down further into specific honeymoon fund details, like "spa day" or "snorkeling excursion." Your guests want to feel good about what their hard-earned money is going toward (even though the dollars are ultimately all going into the same fund).
Lee adds, "If a cash fund is the only thing on the gift list, people sometimes raise an eyebrow. Do a cash fund and something more traditional with physical items people can buy."
Donate the Money to Charity
If you truly don’t want anything, or perhaps it’s not your first time down the aisle, philanthropic-focused gifts are a great option. "Charity is a big one for second marriages and people merging households—they don’t register for anything but charitable donations," says Lee. "We have a beautiful integration on MyRegistry called Generous that will track all contributions in one place so you know in your thank you note tracker and you’ve got everything in one place."
Wine Is Always a Good Option
Wine is another popular registry item, particularly for couples who have been married before. "Total Wine is a big one because they are a big national brand, and we also see a lot of wine subscriptions and people adding links on MyRegistry directly from winery websites," says Lee.
Know Your Guest List
Be respectful of your guests’ hard-earned dollars and their time. The average cost of a wedding gift in the U.S. is about $100, says Lee, so make sure to have items that are in the $50 to $100 range, particularly for people who might not be coming to the wedding but want to send something thoughtful. Try to avoid picking too many little items in the $5 to $15 range. "Then what happens is people come in and buy tons and tons of little things," says Lee. "And that never makes people feel fulfilled. You don’t need a $15 cheese grater on your registry."
On the other hand, don’t fill your registry with only high ticket items that few people can afford to buy. Instead, put a few higher-priced items and give the option to crowdfund for the Kitchen Aid mixer or crystal champagne glasses you’ve been eyeing. "It depends on the [couple], of course, but just know your guest list and what’s appropriate," reminds Lee.