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A Bride Tells All: Everything You Need to Know About Your Wedding Registry

Confession: I started our Zola wedding registry the morning after we got engaged. I know that seems crazy, but my fiancé and I knew exactly which part of wedding planning I’d be most excited for long before he popped the question last August.

As a home editor, I’ve spent most of my career online shopping (for work, of course), searching for luxe bedding, fun throw pillows and pretty plates. I’ve been picking and choosing favorites for years, and now I was psyched that it was finally my turn to shop for myself. And not so surprisingly, it was tougher than I thought it would be. But I did learn some super helpful tips in the process that proved to be the key ingredients to nailing our perfect-for-us registry.

You’re making the registry for your future home, not your current one.
When you’re looking around your tiny apartment or starter home, it can be hard to see the need for twelve place settings or a 10-cup coffee maker. My mom told us to keep in mind that someday we’ll probably have more space to entertain and more storage, too. Though some of your requests (or ours: a roasting pan and two cheese boards) may seem extravagant now, these gifts from loved ones will build the foundation of your future home, and bring a smile to your faces 10, 20, or hopefully 50 years from now—and ours, too, if we can learn how to roast something by then.

Pick gifts at all prices.
For every big-ticket item (like a Vitamix, for example), add a few inexpensive items (think: an oven mitt or tea towels). Give your guests the opportunity to shop items at a variety of price points so that everyone can gift you something you’ll love, regardless of their budget. Someone will be clamoring to get us that KitchenAid (thanks, Grandpa!), but younger relatives or friends may need something a little smaller to show their excitement about your big day, which is totally understandable since we’d want the same option for theirs. Honestly, we needed those smaller items just as much as the big ones—just ask anyone who had seen our former tupperware collection (all lids). Plus, some people enjoy bundling smaller gifts together, and the only thing more fun than opening one gift is opening a whole bunch at a time.

Look for opportunities to upgrade.
Many registry items are things you probably already have at home, like flatware or mixing bowls. But if the ones you already own aren’t great quality, this is the perfect time to trade them in. Retire those rust-covered baking sheets you stole from your mom (guilty). Swap out those plates you’ve had since senior year of college (still working on it). Also take this opportunity to get a matching set of pots and pans, or go really crazy with a comforter that’s evenly stuffed (our first upgrade!).

Think year-round.
It makes total sense to immediately want to add a cooling fan and margarita glasses if you’re starting your registry in July, but try to think about occasions throughout the year when you’re adding to your registry. In November, when we hosted our first Thanksgiving, we needed a ladle and gravy boat, and wished we had registered for those earlier. And in December you (or I) might want a slow cooker to make stews or a GoPro to take on a ski trip. Do a year-round brainstorm of holidays and occasions you and your spouse-to-be enjoy, then stock up.

Visit your registry semi-frequently.
Some couples will create their registry, check it off their wedding to-do list and never return. But you and your guests will be thankful if you keep an eye on it. Some items may be discontinued over the course of your engagement and you’ll want to replace them, so you don’t miss out on receiving a major gift component. I recently went on a friend’s registry to buy a last minute wedding gift, and the 20+ items left were all out of stock. I’d never ask, but I’m sure she was totally bummed not to get all of that stuff. You may also look at your list three months later and say, “what was I thinking?” about some of your overly excited I-just-got-engaged picks. I, for example, originally added three kinds of flatware and I still don’t understand why. So, without getting too obsessive about, definitely evaluate your registry along the way.

This is YOUR registry, so add what makes you happy.
Your parents might think elephant salt-and-pepper shakers seem silly (respectfully disagree) or a $200 teapot is insane (not if it’s the Alessi Bird Tea Kettle), but if you and your partner love and know you’ll use these gifts, then add them. Your quirky picks are what make your registry and home uniquely you, not to mention pure fun for your friends and family to scroll through. As long as you’re mixing some staples in with the fun stuff, you’re good to go.

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