The MANual: Wedding Registry

Start Your Registry With A Checklist

Putting together a wedding registry is one of those tasks that seems simple until you start—at which point it gets real complicated, real quick. You need to start with a checklist, an outline to help you figure out what you need and when you need it. Otherwise, you’ll drown in a sea of consumerist possibilities.

You need to see the big picture, and that’s what the checklist gives you. Your checklist is not a place for brands names or taste preferences, at least not initially. Write down that you want a new TV in the living room, not that you want a 48.5″ Curved 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV from Samsung. That level of detail comes later, once you’ve determined if that TV is high priority or not.

The registry used to be the means by which a couple furnished their new home. But this is the 21st century. You probably already live together–or, if not, you both have half the stuff you need already. That’s why every couple’s check list will be unique to them.


Humans need food, clothing, and shelter to survive. We’ll leave out clothes–unless there’s a particular pair of really nice pants you were hoping for–and we’ll assume you’re not going to ask for a house on your registry (though you could if you wanted).

That leaves food, which in this context means items for your kitchen and your dining room. What, after all, are the two things people think of as soon as the words “wedding registry” are uttered? China patterns and blenders.  

Take a minute to think about what you really need in your kitchen and on your dining table, not what you think you’re expected to get. A 16-piece dinnerware set with matching Waterford crystal decanters and silver salad forks is nice, but how many Jane Austen-themed dinner parties are you planning on throwing?

Similarly, a food processor with enough power to puree solid granite sounds cool, but if plain pasta is the most exotic dish you know how to make, why bother?

Start with the basics you’re actually going to use, and go from there.

Plan Like A Man: Your Wedding Registry Strategy
Wedding Registries

Plan Like A Man: Your Wedding Registry Strategy


There are things you can ask for that will save you money and time in the long run. Power tools, for instance, will allow you to fix stuff yourself in the years ahead, instead of hiring expensive contractors.

But, again, don’t buy beyond your level of expertise. A 15 AMP, 10-inch table saw with a 52-inch Biesemeyer Fence System makes you look like a grade A home improvement guru—but if you don’t know how to use it, you’ll just end up with a couple fewer fingers and a couple more medical bills.

Owning an expensive piece of machinery does not turn you into an expert, so figure out what items will actually be of use, and add them to the checklist


As we’ve said elsewhere, you should try to find a balance between things you need and things you want.

Add a section to your checklist of stuff you’ll want to have on hand for your off hours—all those moments you’re not fixing the porch stairs or rewiring the extra room in the attic.

That TV for the livingroom, or the leather and wood bar cart, or the full-suspension mountain bike.

Don’t shy away from asking for experiences. No one is going to have a stroke if you include sports tickets, scuba lessons, or fantasy camps on your registry.

Get What You Want AND Get What You Need
Wedding Registries

Get What You Want AND Get What You Need


Building a registry is as much a process of discovery as it is an exercise in wish fulfillment. As you start putting your checklist together, you’re going to notice:

1) things you didn’t know you needed and;

2) things you’ve always taken for granted.

You start looking into sheets, for example, and soon you’re also thinking of pillow shams, bed skirts, mattress spring-to-foam ratios and 270 vs. 330 Egyptian cotton thread counts.

When you were a kid, the pots and pans in the kitchen were just there. Now you have to buy them yourself, and you’ll need to know the difference between a sauté pan and a stock pot.

Figure out all these things beforehand on paper, as part of your checklist, then eliminate the ones you don’t really need. Your registry shopping will be more efficient and less time consuming as a result.

Bottom Line

Your checklist is the outline of your registry, the foundation on which you’ll build the perfect wedding gift wish list. Be thorough at this stage, and the whole process will be quick and (relatively) painless.

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Even More Wedding Registries
How to Get Cash, Not Vases.
Wedding Registries

How to Get Cash, Not Vases.

In virtually every gift-giving scenario, we are conditioned to give something personal, something creative, something they'll cherish. Yet something is different this time: the wedding registry.