One element of wedding planning that is directly related to home decor (and therefore basically one of the first things I was inspired to tackle) is the wedding registry. I have always had a LOT of opinions on registries, so now that I've actually put one together, I thought I would share some of my thoughts. I've read a lot of registry guides and always seemed to have major disagreements with them, so here's my take!
(Of course, every couple is different and their needs/wants are different, so this is just my personal experience.)
We approached our registry with the mindset of these items being life-long purchases. Some people think of registries as a "gift-grab" but it brought us so much joy to imagine us in twenty years, hosting Christmas dinner in our forever-home, surrounded by family and friends. I love the idea of creating family heirlooms to pass down to my children and grandchildren. And to always think of the gift-giver when using the serving dish/vase/cocktail glasses.
That being said, I'm also very averse to creating clutter. I'm constantly buying things that I want to get rid of in a year (which drives Ryan crazy). So we were seeking simplicity, versatility, quality, and thinking about what we really wanted and would definitely use. Before even looking at registry guides or stores,or had a scanner in our hands, we sat down and made a list of what we wanted to add. This happened over several months. We tackled pots and pans first, saving categories like stemware for several months later.
We chose to register at Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, and Amazon (for a few random things), combining them all by using Gift Registry 360. This way, we could do price comparisons and choose the best price where we registered. For example, our cutting board is available in all three spots, but is about $40 less on Amazon.
A lot of people have assumed that because we've lived together for almost four years that we could "skip all the kitchen stuff" and suggested registering for our honeymoon. While we weren't opposed to the honeymoon idea, our registry is almost ENTIRELY kitchen stuff! Since moving in together, money has been tight. We're still using mostly pots and pans from Ikea and mashed together sets we had in college. We have a couple nice pans Ryan got for Christmas, but otherwise everything is pretty low-quality for the amount of cooking we do (at least 5 nights a week). We also have a lot of small appliances, but are missing a blender (which I want badly!), a food processer that holds more than two cups (the one we have is ridiculous), and a knife sharpener.
Other items we definitely went for were high quality knives. We relied a lot on the Cook's Country product reviews to assemble our equipment lists (after coming up with the categories we wanted on our own). Our knife list comes from about three different makers. About half of them are Wustof. After we found out that Wustof provides fulfillment incentives (free gift or giftcard if you receive more than so much worth of product), we made sure to register for all the Wustof knives from the same retailer so they'd be combined. We obviously registered for each knife individually, since we were creating a personal set from different makers. An extra bonus of this is that we registered for two chef's knives so we can both be working in the kitchen together with our most commonly-used knife.
We also skipped a lot of the "must-haves" like wine glasses, towels, vacuum (we have a perfectly nice one), flatware... Where we are right now we hardly EVER entertain, so it didn't make sense to ask for 20 wine glasses that would be hard to move from apartment to apartment without breaking them, when at the low prices we saw we wouldn't have a problem buying them for ourselves when we're finally somewhere permanent. I couldn't decide on towels or flatware, so I just skipped them. Someday I'll be able to choose a towel color, and I'd rather just get vintage flatware.
A lot of the guides I saw were encouraging brides to skip formal china. I think that's really sad! I know that I will love and use our china and it will always have a soft spot in my heart as our "wedding china." We already have informal dishes that I love, and it would be about $40 to finish off our set of those to a full 10, so I'm not in the position of registering for two full sets of dishes. I chose the Juliska Country Estate pattern. It mixes with our current white dishes, and it will look great with other small pattern accent dishes and vintage floral plates (I can't resist these at antique malls where they are so cheap!) but it won't look dated in a few years - it's a very classic look. I wanted a lot of versatility for how to style them with our other items. We didn't just register for the full suite of dishes though - we narrowed it down to the pieces we know we want, then we'll add other items over the years as we gain room.
Finally, we made sure that there were a variety of price-points available. Obviously a lot of pots and pans and some of the knives are over $200. But we filled out some of the lower price points by registering for individual items, not sets (like with bakeware, about $30 per piece). We also paid attention to our bar area, which had a lot of less expensive items that could be combined in a variety of ways. We don't want to be a burden on anyone who wants to give a gift. Even though many of our items are "investment" pieces, we made sure to keep a lot of items under $100 and many under $50 as well.
So that was how I approached my registry - we did the entire thing online to avoid spontaneously adding things that were cute in the store that we'd never use. And though we'll be replacing a lot of our current kitchen items, we'll be able to pass most of our current stuff down to Ryan's sister, moving into her first college apartment in August (the junkiest stuff will get tossed/recycled though!). And we've already had our first item "completed" and I fully admit to squealing out loud when I discovered it! So exciting, and makes the wedding feel real (only four months away now!).