help! what should our bride-to-be register for?


Some people will tell you that registering for gifts is one of the best things about a wedding. “It’s like shopping for really nice things, except you don’t have to pay for it!” Those people are liars. I mean, do we really need a $2700 Tiffany vase? Wading through a store’s home décor web site with a fiancé whose idea of style is a Guinness pint class is beyond torture. But the hardest part of the process is finding that site in the first place and once you’ve picked it, then what? We’re so overwhelmed with shopping choices, we don’t even know where to begin. Target or Crate and Barrel? KitchenAid mixer or swanky slotted spoon? Add the small spaces of New York apartments to the mix and you’ve got a minor wedding crisis on your hands.

So Shelterrific readers, where should we register? And what should we ask for? — Ashley P.

From our partners

I totally recommend crate & barrel!!!

Every site with a bridal registry offers a guide to what to register for, but it is really only a starting place – take their advice and see what really makes you say ‘hmm, yeah good idea’. You’re the only one who knows whether you (and your fiance) want sheets with incredible thread counts, bowls for 19 different uses, a rice cooker, or so on and so forth.

Also, even with space considerations, this is the only time in your lives (most likely) that your friends and family are excited to spend a good deal of cash to buy you pretty things – so that very nice china service for 8 or 10 or 12 may not seem incredibly practical, but are you going to be hosting family holiday meals?

And to get your fiance into the spirit – pint glasses (and bar acoutrements) are a really popular purchase on many people’s registries!

Allison R

hi ashley p. can you register at moss or john derian. My sisters registered at Tiffany’s and all these years later i am the one with matching ice buckets, Tiffanys ice buckets… that they didn’t want. That’s ridiculous. I keep my pens and paintbrushes in them. I have a friend who got married last year and registerd for tons of stuff but decided to take the money and buy a chandelier she wanted from Gumps. Hmmm!


We found that our family members really wanted to give us gifts that would endure & that we could still use for decades (china, silver). However, our friends were perfectly happy to get us day-to-day items (mixing bowls, measuring cups). So we registered at 2 places: Target for ordinary, everyday items and an upscale store for china & other potential-heirlooms.


although i love the idea of registering at smaller boutique shops, we were swayed towards the bigger/more traditional shops because we thought it would be more convenient for our guests (especially the older, less-internet savvy ones). we went with a store that everyone probably lives within 15 miles of (williams-sonoma) and one with an easy online store (bloomingdale’s). but if you have a high concentration of guests from nyc, then a registry at your favorite local retailer may work out really well.

oh, and i think the kitchenaid mixer you mentioned is a requirement on every registry! (including mine)


Here’s a (potentially unpopular) twist on the gift registry idea: why not register for the things you actually *need*? A wedding is not about amassing things or about what your relatives want to buy for you. Or, what about asking people to donate for a cause that’s close to your and your spouse’s hearts?


oops, forgot to close my html tag. sorry for all the italics!

My husband and I registered for our honeymoon – we’d been living together for so long that we already had lots of “stuff” and didn’t really want to register for a food processor when we could buy one ourselves if we really wanted to…

It was great b/c we were able to plan our honeymoon ourselves, break it down into pieces, upload everything to a wish list and people could “pay for” whatever pieces they wanted. The honeymoon registry website just hosted our list for a small fee. They also did travel planning but we didn’t use those services.

I *think* we used this site but I can’t remember: – there are lots of others on “the google.”

Our thank you notes included pictures of us on our honeymoon – like a picture of us on a scooter for the person who purchased the scooter rental for us in Cancun.


I believe that everyone should have a good set of china. This can mean anything from traditional Royal Copenhagen to more casual white bone china from The Conran Shop. Even if you feel that it doesn’t make sense now, things change so much in a few years, and you may find yourselves entertaining family or friends more in the future.

I agree strongly with Tasha. We did the conventional registry rather like a-m, and for the same reasons, and I have gotten rid of most of the gifts – they turned into clutter within the first five years, since our lifestyle together grew and changed in wonderful and surprising ways. The honeymoon idea is a great one. I wish I’d had the guts to ask for savings bonds, which is what I try to give now.

Newly engaged myself, I feel your pain! I guess my advice is just to know yourself. If you don’t bake and are short on space, registering for the KitchenAid mixer might be slightly ridiculous. Pick a place (or places) that you’d shop anyway (if you’re outdoorsy, screw silver and go for REI). Target has a really crappy return policy for its registry (more on this can be found on all the bridal forums) but basically they are shitty about letting you return web stuff in-store, and they require that you exchange like for like–ie, small electronics for small electronics. Annoying!

My fiance and I are experiencing the same dilemma! We were debating between Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macys. I think we’re going to end up with Crate & Barrel because I found a set of everyday dishes that I really like there and with Macys because they carry the China pattern we’re thinking of (I imagine that in 20 years I’m going to want china). My assumption is that Macy’s, BB&B, and W-S carry similar merch, so why register at more than one? Is that a false assumption?


In terms of wedding gift giving, I highly recommend giving a gift certificate to a couple’s favorite restaurant or a restaurant you know they’ll enjoy. That way, once the madness of their nuptials has subsided, the couple will have a nice, relaxing (and free!) meal to look forward to.

Most people have more stuff than they know what to do with. Giving an “experience” seems like a much better idea. And you know the gift will be appreciated, since who doesn’t like dining out?

We registered at BB&B (only) mostly based on them having the china pattern we liked (Macys had it too, but at a higher price). They don’t have incredible high-end selection, but a lot of quality basics. (and a very good return policy).
We were actually a little surprised how willing our relatively conservative relatives were to give us cash for a house, which is why I’m now reading house blogs. So don’t rule cash out as a possibility if you want furniture or things from small stores or boutiques that aren’t registry-friendly.

We got the KitchenAid mixer and didn’t even register for it, and you know what? Completely LOVE IT. So register for it. I didnt’ realize how much I would love being able to turn it on and then do something else while the batter mixed. Looks so great, too. Just think about how you live and register accordingly. For us, that meant towels in cool colors, pots and pans, and a lot of household items like cool wastebaskets. We didn’t register for china–that’s not how we live, and we’ve never been to dinner at anyone’s house where it’s served on fine china. And we registered at The Big Day too and people got us stuff from there, which was great.

PS Also check out–we registered there for Panton chairs. Didn’t get any, but it’s a great place to register!


I’m a fan of Crate and Barrel – reasonably priced and a great selection of good quality stuff. They also publish a great little guide to registering that I found very useful. Target’s ok, but their shipping prices are outrageous, which can really make a gift-giver rethink their purchase. I recently tried to select a baby gift from someone’s registry at Target, only to discover that it was going to cost 50% of the item price to ship it! C&B has much better shipping policies than that -and very knoeldgable customer service.

One piece of advice: service for 12 on everything. Unless you run your dishwasher very frequently, you’re going to want the extras.


I would definitely only register for what you need. I honestly think it is a bad idea to register for china. Just register for day to day dishware, if you need it. Good luck!

megan k.

a., check out! —m.


My husband and I registered at Williams and Sonoma, and BB&B, both were great. Super convenient for guests from all over the country, and a bunch of different price points. Perhaps more importantly, returns were EASY at both. You could return for merch (regardless of if purchased online or in-store) or cash. BB&B then showers you with 25% off coupons for months after…which is dangerous if you’re psyched about expensive air purifiers and inflatable beds.
Happy weddings!
PS: I recently purchased wedding stuff for friends at Macy’s. I went to the store to get a copy of the registry and wander about, only to get a super long register tape of the sku#’s for all of the items. Incredibly inconvenient if you don’t speak sku.


1) I vote for only registering for what you need. People WILL go off registry and sometimes that turns into happy surprises and sometimes it turns into “what the heck is this? And why did they think we needed it?”

2) Make a list of stuff you would like to upgrade or need. That way you don’t just start registering for random items you’ll never use. For us the big things we needed were nice wine glasses and nicer pans (ours were the 9.99 grouping you can get at IKEA).

3) If you register for items that are “upgrades” of items you already have, donate the old version to charity if you recieve the upgrade as a gift so you don’t get up two of something.

4) Have a good variation on prices of items. If you register for tons of stuff that are very expensive it may be out of peoples price range. But if you register for too much inexpensive stuff people will feel disappointed they couldn’t get you something “nicer”.

5) Look at your life style. Don’t register for 20 place settings if you don’t have room to have 20 people over at your place and can’t even think of 20 people you want to invite over. Don’t register for lots of fancy serving items if you and your fiance prefer pizza while watching the game.

We regsitered at both Target and Crate & Barrel. For some reason C&B was much more popular with our guests. Both were fairly painless. I would recommend both places for registry if you like the styles.

Good luck!


We reg’d at W-S and BB&B. BB&B has an awesome return policy which was a great relief to this neurotic bride who changed her mind about colors after the wedding. Phew– we could return all the towels and sheets and many other things with no problem. We even got cash back from BB&B. Unheard of. And W-S was fun for many kitcheny things, though we could have skipped that and just done BB&B and been fine.

For pans we considered All-Clad, Calphalon, etc., and ended up at (actually a real store in Chicago) where we bought a whole set of Scanpans and adore them three years later. They are non stick but not flaking– the non stick is ceramic and baked right in, so it can never come off. It heats up quickly cooks beautifully, and to clean– pop the hot pan under a cool faucet and the dirt steams right off!!! Easy peasy. Best thing we ever bought. And guaranteed for life.

We registered for china but then returned the few sets we got as the pattern was discontinued. We’re quite happy with our all-white dishes– they go with everything, fancy or plain. And if you’re hooked on china, check out costco. They often have some really good deals. Congratulations, and enjoy this time!


Do you live together already? Why are you considering having people buy you gifts from a list?

Ashley P.

Wow, you guys! These are amazing ideas! Thank you so much. To Tasha: We are asking people who want to to donate as well to two different non-profits, but even then, many people have expressed the desire to give us tangible gifts. To Rebecca: LOVE the idea of registering for the honeymoon! (We’re doing a road trip through Sweden.) To Megan: SO amazing. What a great idea!

Meghan G

I’m currently going through the registry process myself. In addition to the standard Macy’s registry, we’ve also started a registry at This registry website allows you to add items from literally anywhere. When a potential gift buyers views your registry, it links the buyer to the respective company’s website and tracks whether or not the gift was purchased. I’m sure it’s not 100% full-proof but it expands your options exponentially!


Register for things you need. Register for variety of price points making sure there are lots of low-cost things as well as big ticket items. When you register, remember that you don’t need to choose the towels/forks/plates you will be using *forever*- it makes choosing stuff a lot easier, because you dont’ really have to worry that this is the end-all of everything you will ever need. Register at more than one store (we registered at Crate and Barrel becaue we like their asthetic a lot, and got pretty plates and some cool serving dishes there, but overall it was more cost-effective for our guests to get us cutting boards at BBB), but no more than three. Don’t choose items that serve one purpose that you really don’t need or will use only once. Don’t register for things you don’t think you’ll have the room for in the near future (though I think that the kitchenaid is something you can find room for…).

My best registry story: We finished registering at BBB, and we were kind of loopy. We sat down with the “coordinator” and she reviewed our purchaces and informed us of a *horrible* mistake- we choose towels in DIFFERENT COLORS! We had to reassure them that we choose three colors on purpose, and thought they went well together. After we went home and reviewed the website, we realized that they added stuff (grrr) and we had to complain and have them take it off.

Otherwise, I would totally reccomend both Bed Bath and Beyond and Crate and Barrel– though if ou choose C&B, beware that their seasonal stuff changes out fairly quickly.

Anne (in Reno)

I registered at Create and Barrel and we also ended up receiving gift cards to places like Macy’s, Target and REI, which was totally awesome. But we really didn’t register for too much fancy stuff, tried to stick to basics like a good-sized set of everyday dishes and some quality silverware, nice pots and pans and table linens. People seemed to really like to get stuff like bed and bath linens and accessories too. I stuck on a couple of fancy things like that mixer but ended up taking some of them off because I realized we’d rather have more sets of dishes than end up with 5 sets of dishes and a huge mixer. And I felt kind of guilty for asking for stuff that’s so expensive.


We registered at REI and Crate & Barrel. Both were really easy to register at and had great return policies (my husband was so excited to register at REI, it was comical). Plus, our wedding was the week before the end of the big anniversary sale at REI, so we were able to take in a bunch of our gifts that were now on sale and get the difference back (over $500 – which we promptly spent there). Our guests liked it too, being able to choose from two stores that were so different. We don’t get to use the outdoor gear as much as we’d like these days (we just had a baby) but I am so much happier having great quality camping gear than a set of fine china/silver (which would be getting used even less). It just depends what you and your fiance like and think you would use. Be realistic – we’ve never used our C&B wine glasses and our fancy blender is still in the box three years later. I wish now we’d registered for more at REI – and used our gift cards towards something really big, like a kayak.


Check out You don’t have to choose just one (or two) places this way. You can shop online or add items from local sotres too, and just add them to your list. Anything you could want is centrally located at one website.

We registered at Bloomingdales and Bed Bath and Beyond. BB&B has the best return policy because they actually give you cash!

Bloomingdales is good for all the high end stuff, and they also have their twice annual home sale where you get 20% off, plus your 10% completion discount.. so we got a few things we wanted at ridiculous prices. also has a registry that I wish I had known about before our wedding, but their whole website appears to have a virus right now!


I too have registered with They allowed me to add gifts from any store I want such as Macys and DesignPublic. I like that you are not limited to just one or two department stores. They have this great feature called Gift Ideas where if you arent really sure what you’d like to add to your registry, they offer this huge array of stores and items that I was easily able to add to my registry and that helped me out immensely. This site is super cool because you can do so much with it. Most registries that I know of only let you set up a gift list. lets you add pictures, personalized notes, and lets you create your very own wedding page which my guests really loved so far. I cant rave enough!!!

shelterrific » Blog Archive » five things we learned last week

[…] 3. Registering for any reason? Consider a site that allows you to shop a lot of stores at once. Chrissy recommends They allowed me to add gifts from any store I want such as Macys and DesignPublic. I like that you are not limited to just one or two department stores. This site is super cool because you can do so much with it. Most registries that I know of only let you set up a gift list. lets you add pictures, personalized notes, and lets you create your very own wedding page which my guests really loved so far. I cant rave enough!!! Read more about registry ideas here. […]