It’s wedding month around here at StyleBlueprint. Since we are covering lots of bases on the bride and groom front, we wanted to talk about registries today. On the surface, registries appear so materialistic. Yet they are a true gift guide. People want to celebrate your upcoming marriage and want to give you the tools for living your new life together. Those items include homewares, dishes, glassware and everything you need to make your house a home. But the wants of a young bride are very different from the needs of an older married woman.

Often I wonder what I would ask for if I had the chance to register again, and I decided to quiz experts and friends about what they would put on their lists, as well. After I compiled the results, I realized that I need to give full credit to my mother, who urged me on so many of my personal registry choices to select items that, at the time, I didn’t see the value in. I was dead wrong. My 25-year-old self never realized I would be making holiday meals (lots of them), entertaining company, hosting parties and cooking 75 percent of my family’s meals. I also didn’t realize that buying the best quality ensures that you will have it for a lifetime. All lessons learned.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Rather, consider it the highlight reel of things you really need on your registry that you will definitely use time and again.

WEDDING REGISTRY GUIDE

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This tabletop from Dolfinger’s shows a bride’s choices for her registry.

Formal

Formal China

Many brides eschew formal china, thinking they will never need it or thinking they don’t want anything “that fancy,” according to Dolfinger’s owner (and premier wedding registry advice person) Anne Luvisi. She advises all brides to register for the china they love. They may not get it all at one time, but it will be something they will definitely use in the future. Brides will host dinners, have family tables set for occasions and will need something different than their everyday dishes. She notes that it doesn’t have to be expensive; it just has to be different and distinct from your everyday.

Silver

Choosing a silver pattern is the closest thing to taking a personality test during your registering process. People usually have strong feelings for their patterns. Know that your silver is generally for a lifetime, and choose the one you absolutely love the most. Also keep in mind your family’s silver patterns that you might stand to inherit someday; you might want to choose a similar or complementary pattern.

Crystal

Crystal is forever and it just might take forever to acquire a whole set, but it is definitely worth the wait. Expand your registry beyond just the double old-fashioned and highballs. Look for goblets, water glasses and, my personal favorite, the iced tea glass, which also substitutes for any drink on the table. But a nice drink out of a crystal glass is worth every penny; it just tastes better. Also, remember to always register for champagne flutes. You can use them at your wedding and for every celebration thereafter.

Glassware

Our advice on this one is to pick up the glasses and choose by their weight, in addition to their design. Also, we advise to get what you love, but something that you don’t mind replacing a couple each year due to breakage. Of my original set of 12 double old-fashioneds and 12 highballs, I have three and five, respectively. My pattern is no longer made, and I cannot replace them. The lesson there is get something a little more common and traditional!

Flatware

Before you register for flatware, pick it up in your hands and feel it. Really look at it — is it too small, too big, just right? You will know it when you feel it, rather than by just glancing online. Also, register for a few more than you need, especially spoons, of which you will lose at least five the first year.

Table Linens

This includes tablecloths, dressy napkins and place mats. Be sure you know your options on cleaning all of these items before you purchase. Also be prepared to test your skills at getting stains out of every single one. If it is too complicated, you will not want this on your table.

Whimsical Gifts

By whimsical, we mean things that you would not necessarily buy yourself, but that are nice. That beautiful vase, that interesting frame, the candlesticks … the whimsical gifts become sentimental gifts that you always display because they show personality.

Holiday or Seasonal Dishes

Go ahead and register for the entire set of Christmas dishes, or Derby-inspired salad plates. You will use them and love being able to pull them out for the holiday or the season. This is not a superfluous set of dishes by any means.

Everyday

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Here is one of the most useful, durable pots you will ever own: the Dutch oven.

Everyday Dishes

Best advice on everyday dishes I received from my mother? Get extras and make them neutral. She was right. I had the same dishes for 15 years before replacing them. They definitely stood the test of time and wear and tear. Choose something that is not too trendy, or too flimsy, as these will last a  long while.

Informal China

This is the level between the formal china and the everyday dishes. It is the “company’s coming over” set of dishes. Not super nice, but nicer and different than your everyday dishes.

Pots and Pans

Get the highest quality pots and pans, even if that means that you only have a couple for a while. Whether you decide on nonstick or stainless is a personal decision. This is something you will use just about everyday, so it needs to be built to last. Don’t register for a cheap set; you will be replacing that in full in a few years. A high-quality set will last the rest of your life. Promise.

Dutch Oven

Choose one large Dutch oven, like a Le Creuset or Chantal. This pan has so many uses, you could survive on just having this as your only pot for a time. Make sure it is high quality, which means that the cooking surface is much more even and uniform.

Kitchen Knives

A good knife is indispensable. A good block of knives with a sharpener and kitchen scissors is ideal. These are not cheap and need to be taken care of religiously. Never ever wash them in the dishwasher and treat them well; they will last for a lifetime if properly maintained.

Cutting Boards

A good butcher block, heavy, wooden cutting board is necessary for the operation of your kitchen. Sure, you can have some filler plastic cutting boards, but you will always return to the old faithful wooden one. Keep it cleaned and oiled for a lifetime of use. My cutting board was my husband’s grandmother’s. It is still in great shape.

Steak Knives

Along with the knife conversation, you never realize how bad you need steak knives until the first time you have company over for steaks. Rather than cutting all their meat with butter knives, spring for the extra set (at least 8) and let everyone cut his or her own meat.

Pyrex Casserole Dishes

Register for at least three of these, and be sure to get the plastic lids for them. You might only use one for many years, but soon, all three will be holding something, either for you or for someone else’s dinner table. Pyrex casserole dishes are mandatory in a kitchen.

Small Appliances

Stand Mixer or Food Processor

Both are listed, depending on what kind of a cook you are. Bakers need a stand mixer. Nonbakers, such as myself, would never use this, unless I was making the rare cookie batter or mashed potatoes. Food processors, which can blend like a mixer if needed, are a necessary addition to the kitchen for all cooks. With both appliances, you find that if you leave them out, you will use them more.

Blender or Immersion Blender (or both)

Blenders are not just for cocktails and smoothies. The best soups are finished in the blender, as are some sauces. Nothing is more frustrating than a cheap blender that does not blend. Spend a little money on this, and you will reap the rewards.

Coffeemaker

This is a no-brainer. Add to this list, if you desire, a coffee grinder. A good coffeemaker makes good coffee. Period.

Slow Cooker

A slow cooker is not a sexy kitchen item to a new bride. But my goodness, they are an incredible kitchen appliance whose value shows up later in life. Every busy household kitchen has a slow cooker that is used once a week. If you are not using it in the beginning of your marriage, sit tight. You’ll be bringing it off the bench as soon as you start your family.

Toaster

A cheap toaster is just that: cheap. You will be replacing it many times over. Register for a good one and have perfectly toasted bread for the rest of your marriage.

The “Not Necessary” List

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Panini makers are fun, but take up too much valuable kitchen cabinet real estate.

All of these items are fun things for your kitchen. But eventually, you realize that you can make all these food items in basic pans or pots. Instead of taking up valuable real estate in your kitchen cabinets, just leave these off the registry.

  • Ice cream maker
  • Bread maker
  • Waffle iron
  • Panini maker
  • Deep fryer
  • Rice maker
  • Fondue pot

Like we stated before, this is definitely not a comprehensive list. There are towels and sheets to choose, other personal items and even luggage. But this is a list from people with a few years of usage of their wedding registry gifts under their belt. Consider it advice from your future self.

Also of note is this piece of advice from Anne Luvisi at Dolfinger’s, who says that brides need to be prepared to not receive all the requests on their registries. When Anne got married, the only gift she received of her china was one place setting and the bread and butter dish. She slowly built up her set, over birthdays and holidays, and is now enjoying her 35th year with her china. There is no rush to complete the set right after you get married. All those little gifts of a salad plate or a silver dinner fork do really add up in the end.

Enjoy your registry experience. There is never another time in your life when you can ask for an entire collection of glasses or beautiful china. And yet, these are gifts you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life. Savor every last minute!

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