Planning: Present Perfect

Plan your wish list—and get the wedding gifts that are right for you—with our registry primer

0813-planning-perfect-platesBefore You Scan

There are no rules when it comes to registering, but before you grab the SKU gun or start uploading your wish list online, Macy’s Susan Bertelsen, VP of wedding and gift registry services, says it pays to do your homework: “Assess what you and your partner already own, what you need, and what could use an upgrade,” she says. “Also, think about how you live right now and how different that may be five years from now.” Been watching a lot of the Food Network? Register for the newest cooking gadgets. Do you love hosting Mad Men–themed cocktail parties? Glam up your home bar.


Ready, Set, Shop

• Register soon after you announce your engagement—especially if you plan on having an engagement party where guests may want to bring gifts.

• Create registries at two to three different small retailers—boutiques like Click! Design that Fits in West Seattle or Far4 downtown—as well as local outposts of national department and home stores, and consider using an online site such as as a way to incorporate more unconventional items.

• Choose more gifts than guests you are inviting. Select at least two gifts per person, counting couples as one.

• Provide options for different price points. Make sure to include gifts in a range of prices for those on a budget, but don’t be afraid to register for big-ticket items, like a dining room table. Friends will often pool funds and purchase more expensive gifts as a group.


Mind Your Manners

“It’s in poor taste to mention gifts on the invitation,” says Gayle O’Donnell of Paper Passionista. Period. Have your maid of honor include registry information on the shower invite, or do as the stationery expert suggests and use an insert card to direct guests to your wedding website for additional details. And then be sure to follow through: “Although it’s technically acceptable to wait up to six months, it’s a good idea to open gifts as they arrive and send thank-you notes right away,” O’Donnell says. Go for a monogrammed note card so that the “thank you” comes via handwritten text inside, and take the time to mention the gift by name.


Bed, Bath & Beyond

Sweet Dreams: Like having overnight guests? Register for two bedding sets—sheets, duvet cover or quilt, pillowcases, and shams—for your bedroom, and an additional set per guest room. Lisa Myers, owner of Capers in West Seattle, loves her shop’s Peacock Alley for luxurious sheet sets, and advises that you keep seasonal temperature changes in mind when making your selections. In terms of thread count, Joshua Davidson, home stylist for West Elm, says there’s more to it than just a number. In short: the finer the thread, the softer the final product. Make sure to pay attention to the type of cotton as well; Egyptian cotton is known for its breathability, while pima cotton is more durable.  Most important, though, is how the bedding feels
between your fingers.0813-plannin-imersion-circulars

Wash Up: Select towels and accessories for each bathroom. Pottery Barn’s marketing guru Kendra R. Stewart advises three towel sets—bath towel, hand towel, and washcloth—per person. Choose plush, absorbent styles, like Pottery Barn’s Turkish cotton options.

Line the Walls: “Some friends and family will want to give unusual gifts. A beautiful piece of art will be memorable for you and the guest,” Myers says. Just be sure to register for pieces you really want, though, as art probably isn’t a category you want folks guessing about.


On the Table

Hot Plates: Register for fine china and casual dinnerware, plus flatware and glassware to match. For the finer items, Steve Lundh of the Porcelain Gallery in Magnolia—where “fine” is a way of life and a family business—recommends Herend of Hungary’s delicate floral patterns and French brand Raynaud for a daring splash of color. Place settings for eight to 12 people should cover your needs, but consider how many people you entertain, and how often.

Serve It Up: Don’t forget table linens and serving pieces like trays, platters, condiment dishes, and carving knives and boards. Complete your table set with a splurge-worthy vase or bowl that can be used as a centerpiece. Does someone in your family showcase a generations-old punch bowl from their wedding? This is your turn to own tomorrow’s heirlooms.


Cook Things Up

Potpourri: The right pot or pan makes all the difference in your cooking. Cover your bases with the
following: saucepans (2- and 4-quart), skillets (10- and 12-inch, one nonstick), sauté pan, large pot, ceramic baker, casserole dish, and a roasting pan with a rack and steamer insert. Or register for a set-—such as the Scanpan CSX nonstick seven-piece cookware collection or Le Creuset’s Heritage cookware.

Slice It Up: Quality knives are a must. “The three most important knives are a chef, paring, and bread,” says Michael Blum, kitchenware expert of Ballard’s Kitchen N’ Things. He recommends Wusthof steel knives from Germany for their lifetime guarantee and sturdy construction.

Go-Go Gadgets: Chef and owner Ethan Stowell of Bar Cotto suggests a Breville juicer and a Microplane grater. Also, don’t forget helpful tools like a garlic press, kitchen scissors, stainless steel spoons, ice cream scoop, peeler, measuring cups, can opener, and kitchen shears.


Retail Therapy

Dr. Laura Heck of the Gottman Institute suggests using the registry process as a chance to avoid the cliché of one overly enthusiastic partner vs. one lackadaisical one, and to strengthen your communication skills. Here is Heck’s step-by-step guide on how to make registering a mutually enjoyable experience:

1.  Registering does not have to be done in a one day. If you get tired and irritable, take a break, have a glass of wine, and come back to it refreshed.
0813-planning-kitchen-aid2.  If one of you truly loves a product, add it. Not every item needs a “Why do you want that?” conversation.
3.  Go back a few days later and review your list online with your partner. Each of you can note the items that are “nonnegotiable;” those you absolutely cannot live without. Discuss those that remain.
4.  Remember the person next to you lobbying for the German-style beer mugs is your partner, not your enemy. Take a deep breath and remember that it’s the marriage that will last a lifetime—not the mugs.
5.  Weddings are a great time to receive gifts you would never buy on your own. Allow yourselves to pick one splurge item each, even if it seems extravagant.


Real Registry

Amanda Akin and Cory Chigbrow, who own the tapas spot Pintxo in Belltown, were married November 3, 2012, at Ruby Montana’s Royal Sands in Palm Springs. Here they share their insight on balancing a traditional registry from Macy’s along with honeymoon options in Spain via “We registered by hand at Macy’s. If you can stay good-humored about the entire experience, you’ll have fun. We had a blast,” Akin says. And of the honeymoon registry experience, “Dreaming and creating your honeymoon takes the edge off of wedding planning. Your wedding day is wonderful, but your honeymoon is the moment you get to enjoy being married.”

Favorite Gifts  

Breville juicer: “It’s big, but it’s awesome to come home and juice something super-healthy.”
Dansk salad bowl: “We use it every time we sit down for a meal at home.”

Never been used 

Cheese dome: “It’s gorgeous, but really, the cheese rarely makes it off the cutting board.”
Martini glasses: “We’ve found that we generally drink cocktails when we’re out.”

Honeymoon in Spain 

“My cousin purchased our tickets to the FC Barcelona game,” Akin recalls. They also received an FC Barcelona Jersey for Chigbrow to sport at the game. “We had several guests contribute to dinner at a special tapas restaurant. We loved toasting to them while we were there.” There were many options on the registry for guests to contribute to; for example: dining out, hotel rooms on the beach, and bike rentals in Madrid. •