Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Registering for your wedding can be a daunting ordeal -- where to begin in the sea of salad tongs and Egyptian cotton? Thankfully, our Marketing Coordinator, Sam, is here to help! This lovely Ruchette is tying the knot in October, and has learned a lot through her personal experience with registering. Before running to Crate & Barrel and blindly opting for the first stemware you see, read on for her informative wedding registry tips.

There is so much I've learned during my wedding registry process! Prepare for a wealth of information -- I'll be sharing as many tips and tricks with you as I can.

This advice is a combination of what I've learned from a family friend, information from the The Wedding Book (a must-buy for all brides!), and my personal experience. Let me tell you; it is not as easy as it looks. Yes, it's a lot of fun, but if you do it thoroughly, it's a bit exhausting. Think about it -- it's the biggest shopping spree of your life!  Don't worry though; it will all get done, and the more thorough you are, the happier you'll be with your new gifts.

From what I have heard, most people say to register at about 3-4 stores. Make sure at least one or two of those stores have physical retail locations so those guests who prefer to pick presents out in person are able to do so. There are many things to take into account, but here's my list of advice to make this shopping trip as easy as possible.

1. Gather Lists: There are tons of helpful lists available for you to use. Each store you register at will have one, and there are many lists available online. During my process, my two favorites were Real Simple and The Knot. See what all the lists say to start getting an idea of what you think you're going to want and need. Remember that these are only suggestions and you should end up making your own registry list based off what you've seen and what you know you'll personally need as a couple.

2. Take Inventory: Go through you and your fiance's stuff and determine if there is anything that you already own that you don't want to upgrade. For me, I have a few Le Creuset baking pans and the best peeler in the world, so I crossed those items off the checklists. You may already have pots and pans, but are they the ones you want for the rest of your life (or at least for the next 20 years)? If they aren't, register for the set that you do want and donate your old set. Determine what you and your fiance have and want to keep, and everything else should be registered for.

3. Pre-Select Stores: What kind of stores do you want to register at? Start looking online and determine which stores best fit your needs and wants. From my experience, different stores are better for different things. We registered at Macy's for electronics and appliances, Crate & Barrel for dinning ware (plates, glasses, flatware, entertaining platters, pitchers), Williams and Sonoma for specialty tools like colanders, wooden spoons, a garlic press, and Amazon for items that we could not find anywhere else (like our highly-rated cotton towels from Africa). When you're looking at the stores, see what brands they carry and start to familiarize yourself with terms such as tri-ply stainless steel and casualware versus fine dining china and brands like All Clad, Le Creuset and Lennox. Be on the lookout for special deals -- many brands give bonus gifts when your guests spend a qualifying amount on that brand! Ask the store representatives about this when you go in to register.

4. Consider Alternative Registries Ideas: Many couples are choosing to collect honeymoon funds through sites such as Honey Fund and Traveler's Joy. Having a honeymoon fund can be great if you and your fiance don't need or want many traditional home items. You can also ask for gift cards (we asked for Costco) or contributions for a down payment on your future home. If you and your fiance are into camping, register at REI and get that tent that you've been eyeing. Another interesting trend I've noticed is grooms registering at Sears for tools. There are also sites where you can add items from stores that don't have registries such as My Registry and Simple Registry. Don't be afraid to think outside the box -- now is the time to consider what you really want as a couple!

5. Decide How You Will Live: Are you and your fiance going to be hosting frequent dinners and entertaining brunches every Sunday? Or will it just be you two in a small kitchen most nights? Do you plan on moving a lot or within a couple years of the wedding, or will you be decorating your new place right after the wedding? Start answering these questions, because they will help you decide what and how much to register for. If you plan on hosting your huge extended family for Christmas, then register for a full set of pots and pans and make sure you get that 10 quart stockpot with the pasta insert!

6. Ask For Advice: Don't be shy - ask the registry helpers at the store! They are there to help guide you through the process and they've helped many couples in the past. If you have a question such as "What exactly does this do?" or "Which microwave is better in your opinion?" ask, ask, ask! The woman who helped us gave us great tips, told us which items were most registered for, and which food processor was at the top of it's category. I also sought the wisdom of my college friend who graduated from culinary school; I wanted to know her thoughts on the best brands for stainless steel pans. I also asked for advice from my neighbor who always hosts large parties at her home. She gave me a kitchen tour and explained what everything was and if/why I would ever need it. I can't even tell you how helpful this was! Don't be afraid to ask those around you who know more than you do; you'll be so thankful you did. Lastly, make sure to read reviews; they really can make or break a product in my opinion (especially if it turns out a product easily breaks!).

7. Over Register: This is the one piece of advice I have gotten from all the registry representatives: register for anything and everything you think you will need. You can always return items and exchange them for different things later on. The way my fiance and I are treating our registry is as our "everything we need" list. It includes things people probably won't buy us and includes even the smallest things, like chip clips. Whatever is left over are items we will have to purchase in order to put our place together.

8. Diversify: Make sure you've registered for a good range of price points! Some of your friends are going to only want to spend $30-$50, while some of your older family members might not mind spending $100-$200 on a gift. You want to make sure there are enough options for all your guests to choose from at any given point. Many of the registry representatives ask for your email, so they help you keep track and alert you when you need to add more items in a certain price point. Just imagine if you were going to a wedding and the only gift left was a pricey appliance!

9. Don't Do It All In One Day: Split up your trips to the stores, because you will not want to do all your registering in one day. An easy way to break it up is by store or what kinds of items you're registering for (kitchen, bath, decor, etc). My fiance and I spent two full days in the home side of the mall, because we mentally could not do it all in one day. We visited two stores in the first day, and then went home and reviewed it all online. We also added things onto our registry that night so we could take a look at them in the store the next day and added things in the store the next day so we could check out the reviews when we got home. For example, we added three sets of dishes in the store and then narrowed down our final decision at home on the computer. Be tactical and take advantage of in-store experience as well as the information found online.

10. Compromise: This part may be the least fun when it comes to registering (or at least it was for me; I'm somewhat of a control freak). Before we started scanning, we talked about who cared more about which type of item. I said that I'd die if we didn't have the cornflower blue Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, and my fiance has been dreaming about Wusthof knives for years. We kind of broke down different parts of the registry and decided who would have the final say on certain items. I took lead on the specialty baking items, glassware, and cheese party essentials, whereas he took lead on the appliances, knives, and cutting boards. He wanted all white dishware and I wanted a set that wasn't quite so plain, so we ended up compromising on a white set that had a pretty design on it. Practicing how to compromise isn't a bad idea anyways; if you can't compromise over flatware sets now, you're going to run into bigger issues in your marriage.

11. Don't Be Pressured: Registry lists are just generic suggestions! Don't feel like you have to register for something just because it's what "everybody else" gets. If you don't think you'll ever make cheesecake, then don't register for a spring-form pan; it will just waste precious space in you kitchen. If you can't imagine a day where you will break out the fine china, then don't register for it. Your list should be personal to you and your fiance, filled only with what you want and will use. If you think you're going to bake a lot of cookies, pies and tarts, then register for 4 cookie sheets instead of 2, and get the pie bird, the Silpats, the cooling racks, and a pastry blender.

12. Edit, Delete, Add, Update: Periodically keep an eye on your registry after you've sent out invites to make sure that you always have enough on your registry. I think I've changed our slow-cooker selection three times now due to reviews. We also decided that we wanted a certain citrus juicer over another. We've made so many changes and that's ok - get what you really want!

13. Publish Your Registry Online: The Knot has been my favorite site for combining all our registry stores. Through The Knot, you can create your wedding website (to host any additional guest information) along with all the items you've registered for. This feature is wonderful because it also allows guests to search by store, price range, availability and what is still needed. It turns your registry into a shopping site, as it shows viewers the product images, prices, and which store it's from. Your registry site will show up in web search results and you can also link to it in your wedding shower invite. And to make sure guests don't feel pressured into getting us a gift, here's the memo I added to our site: "The best gift that we could ask for is to have all of our friends and family join us for our big day. That being said, if you really would like to give us a gift to celebrate our new life together, we have registered at 4 stores so we can get our kitchen and home in order."

14. Be Thankful: Remember to jot down who gifted you which item and be sure to send handwritten thank you cards! Many registries can give you this information as well under your account on their site. I'd recommend sending out thank you notes as soon as you get the gift - that way you're not scrambling after the wedding to write a hundred thank you notes. And remember, it's the maid of honor's job to write down who gave you which gifts at your shower, too!

15. Have Fun: Registering for gifts has been one of the biggest highlights of wedding planning for my fiance and I. When else do you get to go on a huge shopping spree without spending any money? Wedding planning and registering can be stressful, but remember to take it all in and enjoy it while it lasts!

Happy scanning,
-- Sam, Marketing Coordinator

Photography: Jose Villa

We hope this post has you ready to take the mall by storm! For other helpful wedding planning tips, "like" our Ruche Bridal Facebook page, check out Sam and Sarah's wedding series, and take a look at some of our other informative wedding posts: Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer, Wedding First Looks, Tips for Picking an Engagement Session Location. And if you're on the search for outfit ideas for your engagement photos, bridal shower, and bachelorette party, our Engagement Styling Guide has plenty of useful advice!