When talking about weddings, there's almost no subject that brings out people's, er, opinions, quite like that of the wedding registry. Traditionally, the reasoning behind a registry is twofold: to help wedding guests decide what to give the happy couple, and to help out a young couple setting up a home together for the first time. These days, the former still rings true, but when many (if not most) couples move in together long before marriage, the idea of "furnishing the marital home" becomes rather obsolete.
Whatever your feeling on registries in general, they're often a necessary part of planning a wedding. Some guests just prefer buying gifts they know the couple wants, and if you don't register, you run the risk of ending up with a load of things you don't like or need (or worse, giving the impression that you just want cash). But the old-fashioned wedding registry has changed with the times, and these tips should help you navigate the "what on earth to ask for" predicament many cohabiting couples find themselves in.
Upgrades & Extras
Consider this your opportunity to update some of the stuff you've been "making do" with: ask for nicer dishes, a whole set of matching cutlery (or am I the only one who makes do with random knives and forks?), a better mixer/blender, or anything you'd like to improve on. These cooking-and-dining items form the backbone of most wedding registries, and generally guests will be eager to contribute, say, a set of proper red wine glasses to your home, whether you have some already or not.
There are also those items which you'll always need more of, if not now then in the future, and you can use your wedding registry to stash away some extras for a rainy day. Think sheets and towels, spatulas, basic candles, and drinking glasses (some will break over the years).
Practical Stuff & Fun Stuff
Contrary to popular belief, registry items don't have to be limited to the kitchen-and-bathroom sphere of your marital home. Think about all those practical-yet-random items you need on an occasional or day-to-day basis, and feel free to register for them. Do you have a good tool box with a complete set of tools? A reliable flashlight? Gardening paraphernalia? All are fair game, and good ideas for the couple that is already set for pots, pans and bathmats.
On the flip side of that coin is the fun stuff: these days, almost any activity a couple enjoys doing together is fair registry game. Consider adding a few classic board games, DVD box sets or cookbooks to your list. Enjoy camping trips in the summer? Go ahead and register for a new tent or sleeping bags. Who knows, some like-minded guest might love the idea of you thinking of them every time you're huddled with your spouse around a campfire.
Pay it Forward
If you truly don't need or want any gifts for your wedding, consider channelling all the goodwill you'll be receiving toward others. Ask for donations to a favorite charity (or charities!) in your name, or consider donating your old stuff (you know, the things you'll be ugrading) to a local shelter.
(Image: Andie Powers for Apartment Therapy/Michele and Ryan's New Beginning)