Making a House a Home Through a Wedding Registry

I want to say thanks for the many congratulations — and all the wonderful tips — that you left on my post about sick days at home. The felicitations weren't for being ill, of course, but for being newly engaged, which leads me to my next subject. I promise I won't make a habit of mentioning it — at Apartment Therapy we blog about the home, not getting hitched — but the two happen to intersect here. I'm referring to the wedding registry.I have conflicted feelings about it. My betrothed and I are both established adults who have a stand mixer, a microwave, and a fancy wine opener. At the same time, we're still eating off Ikea dishes and our walls are a bit bare. There are a lot of small-ish things we haven't splurged on that would make our first home a lot homier. There are a few bigger things too.

Still, I feel guilty flat-out asking for stuff. Every time I think about it, it seems so uncouth, or at least clinical, what with the computer-managed request lists with prices helpfully listed for all to see. (In my brokest days, I was always relieved to see a garlic press on there.)

I started by asking my two best friends what they think about registries.

Rachel, who has exquisite taste, was full of advice. She even offered to research my registry for me after showing me her dream flatware of the moment. "You're getting married, people want to buy you gifts," she told me. "Even if they can't spend a lot of money, they want to get something for you."

When she got married, she devoted her registry to starting her collection of Eva Zeisel ceramics — her stash is the one in the featured photo — particularly those done in collaboration with her friends, the designers at Klein-Reid. I bought her an elegant little bud vase and was so pleased to give her something artistic and meaningful. (I love her and know her well, but my girl is particular!) It was so much more gratifying than selecting and shipping a generic household item. Her husband was totally on board with it, too.

My friend Alisiene, who also has supreme style, got married at 23 to an extremely attractive, older academic man in England. They took a charmingly personalized approach to their "registry."

"We sent a handwritten note with our invitations," she explains. "There was one list for our close friends and family, and another for acquaintances that had to be invited."

The note read: "We decided to create a wish list of things we would like to have for our wedding, if you choose to participate. If not, we love you the same. Please enjoy the spirit of this list."

Among the items they asked for?

• "A blues album by someone you think we should hear."

• "A vintage ice pick, preferably from the '30s, but the '40s or '50s would be fine too."

• "An old musical instrument, not necessarily of any value, that you think we should learn to play."

"The list took us months," she says. "But we got so many things that were so unique and you could tell that people enjoyed searching. It was like a treasure hunt."

I love both of these ideas and am starting to feel at ease with doing a registry — or at least some form of one. I have always enjoyed buying wedding gifts, and when finances have allowed, I've tried to be generous. Sometimes I've gone by the list, sometimes I've gone rogue, but I've always been glad to do it.

Weddings are once in a lifetime — well, at least we all hope they'll be — and if people want to give us things for our home that we'll love and cherish for a lifetime, I guess it shouldn't make me a blushing bride-to-be.

I'm curious to hear how all of you handled your registry. Did you have any qualms? What did you ask for?

Image: Rachel Ehlin

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