May 6

The Co-Habitating Couple’s Guide to Registering for Wedding Gifts

It’s tough to choose a gift for the couple that has everything—and even harder when that couple is you. As a girl that’s been co-habitating with her future husband for more than four years, we didn’t take the registry decision lightly. But asking for cash or starting a honeymoon fund just didn’t seem like the right choice for us (and I really wanted to get my hands on that scanner gun). Even though we already have the bare necessities to start our married life together, we still found ways to build a wedding registry of brand new things we’re excited to use and will surely appreciate in our future married home.

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Crate and Barrel

First, a little background: When we met five years ago, Roo and I were each living on our own in studio apartments across town from each other. I don’t know if it was our small spaces or the long distance (15 miles is a long distance in Atlanta traffic), but we were ready to move in together almost right away. So 10 months after making it official, we packed up our separate studios and moved into a two-bedroom apartment in midtown. There was a lot of stuff—two sofas, two queen beds and lots and lots of dishware—but we managed to settle in with all our things just fine. We still live in that two-bedroom midtown apartment today, where we’ve added a dog and even more kitchenware to the mix. On the day we marry, Rooster and I will have been together for a whopping five and a half years (It’s no 13 years like Miss Squid and her dude, but more than half a decade of dating is nothing to sneeze at), and we pretty much have everthing we need. So when it came to the registry questions (Where? And for what?), we were stumped.

Couples who are already established in their home have a few different well-mannered options for registering for wedding gifts. Some choose not to register, some opt for “experience” registries (like a honeymoon fund), and some (like us) decide to register anyway. Why? Mainly because it’s what people expect. Although the wedding world is becomming more progressive, there are still guests out there that struggle with the idea of gifting a couple with cash, even when it’s being put to good use in a honeymoon fund or towards a down payment on a home. Plus we were really looking forward to picking out gear for our future home together. We moved in together with “his stuff” and “my stuff” rolling up in separate trucks, and while it’s become “our stuff” over the years, there’s not much in our little apartment that we chose jointly just for “us.”

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Ultimate Coupons

And I really did want to use that scanner gun!

Building a registry as a co-habitating couple has a unique set of challenges. Since you already have dishes and towels, there’s lots of temptation to register for things you don’t actually need, like popcorn poppers and bread makers (unless you really love popcorn and/or bread). It’s important to have a strategy and some guidelines in mind to create the perfect registry and make sure that the gifts you’re getting from generous friends and family are things you’re truly going to use and appreciate day-to-day. Here’s what worked for us.

The Co-Habitating Couple’s Guide to Registering for Gifts

Choose the right stores to get the right mix of gifts.
Nobody says you must register for plates and sheets. If what you could really use is not a kitchen tool but a power tool, start your registry at a department store’s hardware section and finally get that leaf blower you’ve always wanted. For us, it’s luggage (although we haven’t yet decided what set we agree on).

Now’s the time to upgrade.
In the wise words of our Queen Beyonce: Lemme upgrade you, rusty old toaster oven. There are appliances in our kitchen that work just fine, and probably would for a few more years, but we decided to do some upgrading with our registry. Anything that gets used a lot is the perfect appliance to upgrade—so go ahead and scan for the higher-end version of a trusty coffee maker you use every day. (And nobody has ever regretted getting plushier towels.)

Think about the future.
You’re all set for pots and pans now, but think about what you want to be doing in a few years. Will you be cooking for a growing family? You might need to upsize your compact kitchenware (or at least register for the roasting pan you’ll need when it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving). But be realistic—don’t aspire to cook at home every night if you’re take-out people. Roo and I are looking to upgrade our bed to a king in the next few years, so we put a king-sized comforter on the list.

Get out of the kitchen.
I’m not sure why, but the kitchen is always ground zero for any wedding registry. The bathroom and bedroom get a ton of play, too. But move around to your other rooms to discover where you might have some needs. Roo and I registered for some laundry gear and things you’d keep in a utility or mud room, like cleaning tools.

Fast forward a few seasons.
You might get all googly-eyed shopping the great summer collections in stores, but think about what seasonal decor or supplies you need in the winter months. Although we registered in the spring, I added a few essential holiday wares (like ornament storage) to our list. As a bonus, off-season stock is usually on sale!

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CB2 Disco Gnome via Dude I Want That

For some things, more is more.
Find items to register for that are better in bulk. Could you use a few more towels? Canisters to organize the pantry? Do you wish you had enough champagne flutes to pour bubbly for 4 more people? Don’t just wrack your registry brain to come up with what your (full) house is missing, also try to think of some things you happily already own… but could use a few extras.

Some people just really want to buy you a tablecloth.
There’s something to be said for traditional registry gifts. At the end of the day, your guests want you to go home with your new bed sheets and blender and think of them every time you use it. Just make sure anything you add to your registry is something you’re actually happy to have (or comfortable returning).

Be gracious. 
This is rule number one for anyone registering for anything. The goal of a registry is to guide your guests towards what you want or need, but you should above all be gracious for anything your guests might get you. Sometimes people just want to buy items that they love and hope you will enjoy, too. And you know what? That’s usually way better.

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