Reader Suggestions Of Practical, Useful Ideas For A Wedding Registry
Next month, Mr. Frugalwoods and I celebrate TEN years of wedded bliss! Our marriage is, in many ways, the backbone of our frugality and journey to financial independence. Over the years, I’ve written about the role that our partnership plays in our financial decisions and the importance of being on the same financial page with your partner. But today, I want to discuss the lighter, fluffier side of getting married: the wedding registry!
Apparently a lot of you are getting married soon (congrats!) because I’ve received quite a few questions about the sometimes-dreaded, sometimes-loved topic of wedding registries. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the endless lists of things you’re supposed to include on a wedding registry (champagne flutes AND martini glasses? Really?). And that little point-and-register scanner thingy in the Crate & Barrel doesn’t help matters.
It’s the worst intersection of impulse buying and, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a bunch-o-junk you do not need. But if you are careful, you’ll end up with useful household implements that’ll serve you for as long as your love (which is hopefully forever). Today, we have a rundown from many frugal readers of items from their own wedding registries that they’re still loving and using to this day. And if you’re not about to get married, perhaps you’ll attend a wedding or two in the future, so enjoy this list of fabulous gift giving ideas!
Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions!
Why Have A Registry?
Many of us frugal minimalist folks struggle with the concept of receiving gifts because it stresses us out, but we also don’t want to seem ungrateful for the generosity of others. We hate to see people waste their money on things we’ll never use, we dislike clutter, and we shudder at the environmental cost of new stuff (I’m right there with you, people!).
HOWEVER. Family and friends often view weddings as an opportunity to shower couples with love, well wishes, and gifts. And that is an incredibly thoughtful and kind act. It’s a challenging balance, and a sensitive topic, because on one hand your loved ones want to demonstrate that they love you through giving gifts, which is wonderful!! But on the other hand, you might be saddled with a bunch-o-stuff that you do not want or need.
Of course you can always go the route of “no gifts please,” but if you do this without offering an alternative (which I’ll outline in the next section), be forewarned that you will still receive gifts. Probably a lot of gifts. Definitely gifts you do not want or need.
And so, if you’re getting married and inviting people to attend the wedding, I recommend you consider either: 1) creating some sort of registry, or 2) offering a specific alternative to gift giving (because people love you and can’t help themselves!). If you do create a registry, the readers of Frugalwoods came out in force with superb suggestions of what to include. The recurrent theme? Practical, useful household items that you will use daily: the towels, the silverware, the sheets of the world.
I am tremendously grateful for the gifts Mr. FW and I received when we got married and we still use most of them to this day, every single day! Here are some of the things that our loving friends and family gifted us that we use ALL the time:
- KitchenAid Mixer (you will scoff at how expensive this is until you own one and know the transformative power that is a stand mixer)
- Food processor
- Good kitchen knives
- Nesting metal mixing bowls
- Frying, baking, and roasting pans
- Metal measuring cups
- A vacuum cleaner
- Salad spinner
For the larger items (such as the KitchenAid mixer and the vacuum), several family members went in on the gift together, which I really appreciated. I’ve used those gifts almost daily (certainly weekly) for ten years and I am deeply grateful! Hopefully they’ll rock on for at least another decade or two. If you find yourself in the position of creating a registry, focus on utilitarian items that you know you need and will enjoy using for years (decades, one hopes!). Don’t get caught up in thinking you must register for fancy vases and crystal-encrusted soap dishes if that’s not your thing. Don’t fall victim to what you’re “supposed” to register for; instead, register for a spatula, a whisk, an egg timer. There’s no shame in choosing items that are durable and practical.
Note: I was going to include links to these items, but the exact models that we own are no longer sold (not surprising that they’ve been changed in the last ten years) and I don’t feel comfortable recommending products that I don’t personally use and like.
Offer A Specific Alternative To Gifts
All that being said, I also 100% understand the desire to not receive any material possessions whatsoever for your wedding. If this is the case, what I recommend is specificity. Simply telling your guests “no gifts,” will likely result in a bunch of weird gifts you REALLY do not want (hello engraved statue of a kissing couple… ). To avoid this scenario, Frugalwoods readers have a number of suggestions below and I’ll share my own here:
- Request money toward a specific goal such as buying a house, renovating a home, or a honeymoon/vacation. Articulate your plan or desire and give concrete examples of how you’d use their generous gifts of cash. Make a website detailing your plans if that’s your thing. Include photos of the home you’re renovating or of the destination you want to travel to as newlyweds.
- Request that guests make a donation to a specific charity in lieu of gifts. The more specific you are, the more likely your guests are to honor your request. If you just say “please donate to charity,” it’s unlikely folks will follow your directions. Instead, encourage your guests with something along the lines of: “In lieu of gifts, please consider making a donation to the save-the-whales organization because this is a cause that’s very meaningful to us as a couple and something we hope to support throughout our lifetimes. Please help us get started in our philanthropy as a couple by making gifts in our honor to save these precious whales. We find ourselves at a point in our lives where we don’t need any gifts, but would really appreciate your help in contributing to this worthy organization. Thank you for respecting our wishes and honoring our commitment to saving whales.”
I think that either of these routes is perfectly acceptable and a polite way of declining gifts and directing your guests towards something that would be meaningful to you. Don’t worry, you’ll still receive a few odd gifts…. and on that note….
If You’re Invited To A Wedding
I’m going to quote Dieta, one of the Frugalwoods readers who offered advice, because she summed it up perfectly for folks who are giving gifts: “Resist the urge to get creative.” I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are going to a wedding, do not imagine that you can divine a better gift for the happy couple than what’s on their registry or plain ol’ money. You can’t go wrong with either.
It is so tempting to think we know better what people need in their lives, but we do not. I used to select an item from the couple’s registry, but lately, I’ve just been giving money. This allows me to avoid shopping (which I hate) and it gives the couple the freedom to either purchase something off of their registry or put the money towards a financial goal or a fancy meal on their honeymoon! We all have examples of ridiculous things we’ve received as gifts, so let’s vow not to be that person. Don’t go off registry, unless it’s for your checkbook.
What Frugalwoods Readers Are Glad They Registered For
Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions of things they’re glad they registered for–whether they ended up going through with the wedding or not (read on for more than a few hilarious stories!). Due to your exuberant outpouring of ideas, I couldn’t include everyone’s response. However, you’re in luck because you can check out the full conversation on our Frugalwoods Facebook page. And if you’d like to weigh in on next month’s topic, join the Frugalwoods Facebook page.
I divided your suggestions into the following categories:
Ok readers, take it away!
Category #1: Things
Madelyn recommends, “Towels. Ask for towels. Register for way more than you think you will ever need, because within two years they will all be magically gone.”
Melissa agreed with Madelyn and said, “Along that vein–extra spoons. Spoons grow legs and walk away so I made sure to get a set where you could also buy the pieces individually. And I got lots of extra spoons. 😂”
Laura reports, “Crockpots are amazing and so useful. We have 5 and use them all, often all at the same time. Our fondue pot (like the one you have pictured) is a favorite too. Sometimes I’ll give couples gift cards to a grocery store so they can build their pantries or to a big box store like Walmart/ Target so they can buy the oft forgotten household supplies that none thinks about until they actually need them (hello toilet bowl brush 👋).”
Christiaan said, “A good whisk and instant read thermometer are probably the most underrated kitchen tools you can own.”
Deb said, “Huge dutch oven. Great for giant casseroles and cooking big batches of soup. Goes in the oven or on the stove. It also had a matching frypan/skillet that goes in oven and on the stove as well. Best wedding gift ever!”
Sarah recommends, “2 sets of pyrex food storage containers. They are workhorses for storing leftovers and transporting lunches to work. Pyrex offers replacement lids on their website. I also registered for nicer-than-I -owned sheets. They can be expensive and you use them every night! I like to have 2 sets.”
Debi wrote, “Nice stainless steel pot/pan set I’m still using 31 years later. Next most useful were bedding, bath and kitchen towels, but they’re long gone.”
Glenna suggests a, “Crockpot (or maybe now an Instant Pot). I am still using the one I received as a wedding gift over 30 years ago. Another comment would be to not register for fancy china or overly priced items, but rather register for good items that you will use every day. People appreciate being able to buy reasonably priced wedding gifts rather than a $100 plate (just one plate from a china setting – no joke!).”
Anna wrote, “I feel like its most important to register for things you KNOW you will use, and not follow an outdated “guide” for how to build the perfect registry. Half of our registry was camping equipment. One of our friends registered for a 24 pack of toilet paper. Hey, if you will use it, I’m on board. Ending up with a bunch of random crap only stresses you out later. Plus it’s so much easier to write thank you notes if you have an experience using your gifts.”
Melissa said, “I never went through with the wedding, BUT…. my mom gave me a kitchen aide mixer for my wedding shower. (She let me keep it because she was so happy I didn’t marry the guy! 😂) Anyway- I use it weekly and it’s been wearing great. It’s expensive so clearly not the gift to bring to every wedding but absolutely a great gift that lasts a long time.
Laura relayed, “Actually, the most-used item and practical item is the set of glass mixing bowls. Not exciting, but they’ve moved to 8 states and are still going strong. I do love my fancy china and silver though, primarily because I get to use it on my grandparents’ table I inherited.”
Janice wrote, “Second marriage for us both — we insisted on no gifts and got none, except our best man and his wife bought us a lovely cut glass vase with our wedding date engraved on it. We use it frequently. Plus if we are in danger of forgetting our anniversary it’s etched in glass :).”
Hannah share, “We were given a kit for hanging pictures. All different size hooks, takes, even wire to put behind pictures. I thought it was strange at first but I know where it is and I know it always has what I need.”
Carol has been married, “40 Years in March next year and I still have a set of stainless steel bowls that I use almost every day. I also have a lovely little jug that my godmother gave me that I use often. I now either give money or ask the couple if they would like a very special pan from SOLIDteknics Australian-made pans ..they are a forever pan and have a lifetime guarantee but some people are not into a pan that needs a bit more care as they need to be seasoned now and then similar to a cast iron pan.”
Theresa said, “A really nice ladle, which was a vast improvement on my dollar store one! Glass bowls and leftovers containers, steam mop, InstantPot. 24/25 times I prefer the practical gifts to the quirky, unique, this-reminded-me-of-you impractical ones–but for exceptionally good friends, and an exceptionally good fit, go for it.”
Deanna wrote, “The gift I still have from my wedding is my wall hanging that reminds me to always cherish people, time and memories rather than things.”
Laura relayed, “I bridesmaided at a wedding recently and gave the very competitive bride and groom a 4-player board game I hadn’t seen before. My partner and I have invited ourselves for games and bring-and-share supper when they get back from honeymoon.”
Caroline suggests, “really good kitchen knives. We asked for 3 different types and a magnetic rack and good sharpener, so the price points (not cheap to be fair), varied quite a bit between the items and we use them still. If there is a big item you are saving towards – in our case a then-top-of-range Dyson vacuum cleaner that took care of cat fur – ask for vouchers for that item. We were amazed by people’s generosity at our wedding, we really were. We also tried to very clearly put smaller, less costly things on the list, things like an excellent mixing bowl that I still use, and similar sorts of things. We only gave out registry details if people asked specifically, more as an ideas guide than anything. I can’t quite square ”asking for presents” somehow, it just feels icky.”
Marcia said, “We have several items that we use regularly. The KitchenAid. The glass casserole dishes with lids. The large ceramic bowls. But in our almost 22 years of marriage, the thing we have been using the absolute most the last ten years? The picnic basket. It’s wicker. It has buckles to close and dinnerware for two. We can fit extra plates and dinnerware for our family of four. We use it every Sunday at the neighborhood potluck. It’s perfect for camping or road trips. Or for when you evacuate due to a wildfire. Just the right size, portable, everything just fits.”
Shannon wrote, “I got my Corelle plates that we eat off of every day. We also use our fruit bowl in the kitchen since it’s handy for fruit and that wasn’t on our registry! Since we received many unimportant things on our registry and I had to buy half of our Corelle dishes, I always buy something affordable that a person WILL USE. I buy boring place sets or frying pans, not china or fancy martini glasses. Once I had a friend go to Disney and his registry was things to do there, so my gift was to buy them lunch, not any of the souvenir choices!
Pauline said, “German Knives from 1983–still use them every day. I think giving what is on the gift register is only a clue as to what they want and need. The better you know the couple the easier it is to buy something. A gift card to a home improvement store is always a great gift if you are having trouble thinking of something. I don’t want to give “experience” gifts – I will give cash if they want money for a trip instead of gifts. My folks gave money for a bed to one of the grandkids when they got married.”
Jill shared, “Since we are celebrating 20 years of wedded bliss this year, this is such a lovely remembrance! My college roommate gave us beautiful cloth napkins and place mats. The place mats are great for extending the time between table cloth cleanings. Although we didn’t initially use the napkins very much–maybe a couple of times a year–we switched over from paper napkins a few years ago and they’ve become a real staple of our dinner table! In addition to being a little more eco-friendly and frugal, they also make every single meal feel just a little bit fancy–even the grilled ham and cheese we had last night.”
Jessica wrote, “14 years later we still have most of the kitchen stuff: colander, canisters, mixing bowls, flatware, fruit bowl, fondue pot, tea maker. We just gave away the plates and replaced them with lighter ones. The towels lasted about 10 years. The bedding is now on our guest bed. The only experience gift we got was time in a condo for our honeymoon and it was much appreciated.”
Jackie suggests, “A set of knives. Nice towels and sheets (even if they’re already living together they could probably still use nice sheets and towels!) It’s been a while since we got married and those are the gifts I remember and use daily!”
Jennifer shared, “Things we got for our wedding and still use… popcorn maker, coffee pot, crockpot, the towels we used until they became junk towels (we have been married for 15 years lol), and sheet sets. Nowadays, I usually just give cash. It is easier, helps me hold steadfastly to my budget and allows the couple room to change their mind or save for a bigger ticket item.”
Pamela said, “I love giving GAMES! Board games, card games (depending on how well I know the bride/groom). Otherwise I shop their registry or just gift a dollar amount I’m comfortable with.”
Jessica wrote, “I still use my cutting boards, knife block set, silverware and mixing bowls. Looking back, I really wish we would have registered for quality bath towels. I shop from the bride and groom’s registry most of the time and choose items that I would appreciate the most if it were my registry.”
Lisa said, “When I registered for my wedding, people teased me that I was being ‘too practical’— I wanted mixing bowls, towels, cast-iron skillets, and the like. However, five and a half years later, I’m still happily whipping up batches of cookies in my mixing bowl, drying myself with the towels, and cooking basically everything on the cast iron. I love these practical items! Other notable gifts included a goody basket for our cabin-in-the-woods honeymoon full of hot cocoa mix and snacks; a calendar; and giftcards to REI, since we were leaving for a five-month backpacking trip soon after our marriage. All these gifts were great!”
Lizzie relayed, “I actually use my wedding china fairly regularly. I don’t see the point in saving it for ‘special’ occasions – any dinner with friends is special! In terms of pure utility our Shark vacuum and Cuisinart get the most use.”
Erin said, “I love this question! The gifts I used almost daily that are still going strong after six years of marriage are: excellent knives, a set of multi-size glass nesting bowls from Williams Sonoma (so useful), two giant stainless steel bowls, wooden trivets (a surprise favorite!), and a set of Fiestaware dishes. Things that have not made it: glasses (breakage), pots and pans (worn out/scratched and required replacing for food safety), towels (persistent mildew from living in the tropics), and a salad spinner.”
Carolanne wrote, “After 37 years I still have and use: kitchen scissors; the remains of a dinner service; a serving platter; a three legged stool – now chalk painted as a grand child’s bedside table; chest of drawers and a hand whisk!”
Joslyn shared, “The wedding gifts we use most often years later are a nice giant crockpot with a timer that we use weekly, Wustof knives that I felt crazy for even adding to the registry because they were so expensive but we use them everyday, and our down comforter that keeps us super cozy all winter long.”
Connie said, “I received a Crock-Pot 28 years ago and it’s still going strong. So I enjoy giving one for newlyweds.”
Category #2: Money
Mor share, “Not married but I like my Israeli cousins wedding gift tradition….money! They don’t register for items in Israel and instead have a box at the reception for friends and family to deposit money (normally cash but I think my last cousins who got married got a few checks!). You can give with other people (my aunt and grandparents went in together). I love this idea because then it gives the couple the absolute freedom to get whatever they want and need.
Kate wrote, “As a younger person, I will always (and have already) give cash. I’d rather them decide, and feel like I get “cool points” with the bride and groom giving them cash as it’s always appreciated but awkward to ask for.”
Stephanie said, “We always give cash, especially if the bride and groom are already living together and have their house set up.”
Sarah wrote, “It sounds silly but we got an Oxo cookie scoop that is the perfect size for cookies and meatballs and a set of mixing bowls, I use them more than anything else we got! When I go to weddings I always give cash in bills because checks are a pain for people to cash 🙂.”
Kathy shared, “We put cash gifts toward our dream couch, which we’ve been using daily for the past 10 years. We also received a Hudson’s Bay blanket, that gets a lot of use in the winter time. And fancy little espresso spoons that we use daily as well. I like to give cash as a wedding gift, or something from the registry that I really like that seems durable and timeless.”
Kristine said, “All we want for our wedding is the presence of our loved ones. However, my mom insisted we put together a registry since ‘if you don’t, people will buy you junk you don’t want.’ We added a bunch of random household things we wanted to upgrade, like a new silverware set, a new measuring cup, and a new rope hammock. We’re intending to pass on what we “upgrade” in our buy nothing group, so it will work out anyway. Just stick to the couple’s registry (they know what they need!), or consider asking them first if it’s something they need. Otherwise, give cash or a gift card. It might seem “cold” to some, but honestly, cash and a thoughtful card are far preferable to anything from our registry, and I’d hate clutter our lives with more stuff! The other reason to stick to a gift card/cash even if they register is that the stores where couples register usually send 20%+ off coupons for any remaining unpurchased items once the wedding is over, so the couple can actually get it for cheaper!”
Marisa said, “Door handles! We were renovating at the time so asked for gift cards to various hardware stores. Best gifts ever.”
Dieta wrote, “We still use the set of pots we bought with gift cards. My favourite gift to give is cash, with a note attached that it’s only to be used for date nights. But in general, give gift cards or cash. Resist the urge to get creative :).”
Jennifer wrote, “One of my best friends got married last year and bought a house right before the wedding! Knowing that they were going to be doing a lot of fix-it type stuff to the house and yard they asked for gift cards to places like Home Depot to help them out.”
Lee wrote, “Hubby and I got a gift certificate and used it to help pay for a super-good cooking pot from a little store in our hometown. Thirty-two years later, we are still using it! Split pea soup when we were first married … I’d calculate my salary in pounds of dried peas! Now, we use the pot every night to make popcorn so we can enjoy it with hot chocolate and a retro TV show!”
Amber shared, “We recently got married and since we had lived together for a while and are in our 30s we had most of the house stuff we needed. So instead of gifts we were given gift cards to Airbnb.”
Category #3: Experiences
Kelee wrote, “My husband & I had been together for 15 years before getting married so we didn’t need anything. However, we recognised that people might want to give so we set up a registry with a travel agent & used the money to book flights for our honeymoon 😊 The experience & memories are priceless!”
Joanne said, “We didn’t have a wedding list just asked for money for a honeymoon of a lifetime.”
Jessica said, “We eloped. No shower, a few cash gifts (cash and gift cards— all appreciated!) A photographer friend gifted us a session and we are very excited to take advantage of that opportunity.”
Julie shared, “…We also got tickets to see Tom Petty with our closest friends–priceless!”
CJ’s favorite gift was, “A gift card to one of our favorite restaurants and a membership to their wine club – we used them for several date nights and got so much enjoyment out of the experience!”
Kellie wrote, “We eloped 😊 😊 but my folks paid for our ‘honeymoon’ flights after. I think gifts of travel are the best–an experience rather than stuff.”
Becky said, “As we both already had a tonne of stuff at home, instead of gifts we didn’t need or want we asked for everyone to contribute to the honeymoon instead. We had an amazing 3 week honeymoon in Thailand and Malaysia that we’ll never forget, all paid for by our nearest and dearest. The memories are far more valuable to me than a kitchen appliance could ever be!”
Carly wrote, “We registered on a honeymoon website, although I don’t recall the name. Basically we picked a country we wanted to visit and a whole bunch of different priced pieces of the honeymoon, like a ride in a glass bottom boat or champagne and strawberries in the hotel room. People could fulfill their desire to shop for us by picking out experiences to add to our honeymoon, but ultimately they were just giving us cash. After our wedding the site gave us a check for the total amount given and we put it in savings until we were actually able to take our honeymoon. We didn’t end up riding in a glass bottom boat or drinking champagne, but we did take a very fun and mostly paid for honeymoon to Cambodia!”
Carrie said, “We asked for travel agency vouchers, which then paid for our honeymoon!”
Calibrate Your Registry To Your Needs
I want to put in a plug here to register for inexpensive items alongside your dream KitchenAid mixer. I’m talking about the $5 spatulas and cheese graters of the world. This accommodates everyone’s budget and won’t cause any of your guests to feel pressured into buying extravagant gifts they can’t afford. And if you’re a frugal wedding attendee, set a budget for gift buying that’s comfortable for you and that won’t stress your finances. What matters is your presence in the couple’s lives, not the dollar amount of your gift. DO NOT go into debt trying to impress someone with your gift giving. Please.
After reading through all of your suggestions, what stands out is the fact that your wedding registry should be calibrated to where you are in your life at the time of your wedding. Mr. FW and I were 24 when we got married and were living in a one-bedroom basement apartment with very little stuff to our name. Hence, our wedding registry was focused on helping us build out our nascent household. Conversely, if you’re already well established in your home, it’s likely your priorities will be very different. Ignore the demands of wedding registry guidelines that outline what you “need.” Only you know what you need and will use. And if you’re attending a wedding, let’s all repeat aloud Dieta’s advice to “resist the urge to get creative!”
What gifts do you still use from your wedding? What gifts do you like to give?
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My wife and I look to give a gift off the registry that will be the most useful. Whether that’s giving the gift of an experience somewhere or something as mundane plates and bowls. While getting crystal candlesticks are nice, you usually only use them for special occasions. So for us, we lean towards practical when possible 🙂
Happy 10-years in advance, Mrs FW – a milestone worth celebrating! Mrs. FFP and I trail you two by about two years.
As a minimalist, I suffer from practical-itis. Like Mustard Seed Money, Mrs. FFP and I usually try to identify and purchase the gift we believe will be the most practical on a registry and which will prove the most indispensable over time.
I shudder thinking back to when we created our wedding registry. As someone who recently spent several days researching ice cream scoops to ensure we found the best one on the market, the thought of identifying, sourcing, pricing, and prioritizing an entire household’s worth of supplies was pretty stressful back in the day.
I was an established bachelor at the time that we were first married, so we already had the essentials in terms of furniture and the other necessities of setting up shop for the first time. But Mrs. FFP disapproved of my collection of dishware and cooking utensils (mostly sourced from the dollar store). So a good portion of our wedding registry consisted of kitchen items, most of which are still with us 8 years later. We also upgraded our bathroom towel set, as I recall.
Happy 10th year anniversary soon family FW!
I’m so surprised so many people said towels but as an Airbnb owner….yeah that makes sense to me more so.
When my husband and I got married we didn’t do anything. It wasn’t important to me…the whole celebration thing. I rather do the Netflix + PJ + sushi platter for 2 kind of thing.
If we did actually celebrated (like if someone put a gun to my head and told me to party/have a wedding) I would ask everyone for cold hard cash. Chinese red envelope style. If it’s things….I want seedlings and baby fruit trees!!! 🙂 That would be cute I think.
Cold hard cash is my style too 😉
Happy almost anniversary to you and Mr. FW! 10 years is a huge milestone.
I missed the open thread on this, but the biggest thing I wish we’d done on our registry was try to upgrade more of our basic items. We had a lot of things already (sheets, pillows, towels, kitchen stuff), and I felt ridiculous registering for more of a thing I already own. HOWEVER, I learned that a wedding is actually a great time to upgrade stuff from your college years into items that you can use forever. The Wusthof knife block we received gets used every day, and the knives work so much better than our hand-me-downs. High quality sheets make falling into bed every night a luxury. Etc.
If you’re planning for a registry, it is definitely worth it to look through your house and think about what you use regularly that could be upgraded (I’m looking at you, college sheets) or is on its second or third owner (poor $40 garage sale stand mixer is definitely on its last legs). This is one of the few times in life where people are going to want to buy you a lot of expensive presents, and it’s worth it to take them up on their generosity when it’s offered.
To follow-up: one of the things I dislike about experience or travel registries is that the web-site usually takes a cut of the gift to cover the credit card processing fee (typically 2-3%), which means the couple doesn’t get the full amount. At that point, I’ll usually just write them a check with something fun in the memo line.
And while we’re there, an important note on checks: make sure to make them out to “Alex Jones OR Sam Smith,” even if you know for sure that someone is changing their name. Neither my husband nor I changed our names, and our newly acquired joint account wouldn’t accept checks that were made out with my last name as it didn’t appear on the bank record. We ended up depositing them at my husband’s former bank (which was much more forgiving) and writing a check back to the other bank, which was a huge hassle to deal with the day after our wedding. A name change doesn’t typically happen immediately so, even if one person does change, their bank records are probably still going to have their birth name on them for a few weeks.
Happy 10th anniversary!
Mr. FAF and I also had a wedding registry, but our friends and family just gave us money for the most part. It’s a tradition in Vietnam and China to give money to newlyweds, which I have to say I really like.
Even now we would prefer cash (not even gift cards) instead of gifts since it gives us so much flexibility as to what we can do with the money. Plus, we don’t mind using used stuff, so we definitely don’t need new things.
Ahhhh this one’s going to make me rant. One of the biggest disagreements my wife and I ever had was about our wedding registry, specifically china dishes.
I never wanted to eat on a $100 plate. We never needed them before, why do we need them now? I gave in to adding them to our registry. After almost 8 years of wedded bliss, we’ve never used them.
My suggestion…don’t register for china or anything else, unless you will use it!
Adding an item to the registry is the same as buying it. If you would not buy it yourself, don’t register for it.
I’m getting married on Saturday, and I can honestly say that the presence of our loved ones is the only thing we want. We’re so grateful that 40 of our family and closest friends have traveled from all over the world to share the day with us. We’re having our wedding at a resort, and will be able to enjoy the entire weekend with them. <3 we're planning another much-more-frugal party at our house in a month or two for all our local friends. Happy wedding season!!
My husbands family doesn’t shop off of registries, so we got a lot of stuff we’ve since donated or regifted.
My favorite and most used items: kitchen aid mixer, nice sheets, cast iron, wind chimes (I never would have bought them), nice knives, and a CHEST FREEZER! (Sears let’s you register for those.)
I did not appreciate gift cards, cash is so much better. We had such generous family and friends and ended up lots of gifts and didn’t have much need for gift cards.
We will be married 40 years this August! Two things I use all the time are my cast iron skillet and Fannie Farmer cookbook (both shower gifts). I do use my china and “good” stainless for special dinners. I have parted ways with all my Merry Mushroom ceramics! (It was the 70’s after all!). I have accumulated quality knives, cookware, cutting boards, etc. over the years that will last forever and my kids will use too. I agree buy good quality items that never go out of style and last!
We will also have been married 40 years this August : )
Years ago, we used to give things like a Wedding Photos Album along with a really nice silver frame, as everyone has photos of their special day. I feel kind of cheated when today’s couples have a Register, or ask for cash – I like to put a lot of thought into what is right for a particular couple, not be told what to get.
The only thing I would add to the suggestions here is luggage. We were fresh out of college and planning an international trip for our honeymoon, so the set we received came in handy almost immediately! We received one large and two carryon sized roller suitcases. They’re going strong 6+ years later, and they’ve also come in handy during two cross-country moves and for off-season clothes storage.
YES! I totally forgot we got a suitcase for our wedding, which I’ve used probably hundreds of times! Good suggestion.
My husband and I used cash we received (and store credit for duplicate purchases) to buy a large Samsonite suitcase. It was A LOT of money to us at the time (almost 23 years ago). We still have that thing and use it for longer international trips. For shorter trips we use a carry on that we won in some kind of raffle (???) a few years after we got married. We still use that one, too, although it’s pretty beat up.
When my husband and I got married, we had both lived on our own for many years and already had most things people register for. We registered for a few traditional items but we also set up a registry at REI to stock up on some camping and kayaking gear (which we still use frequently 6 years later). We also needed a lot of home improvement items so we requested Lowes and/or Home Depot gift cards. We were able to get a new washing machine (desperately needed!), weed eater, lawn mower, and many other smaller items as a result.
Oh gee, we are going to go through this soon…
I would rather everyone donate to charity, and Mr. E. Sees it as an opportunity to get great stuff!
I am hoping in my heart of hearts that we will manage to land on 3 options: 1. Something homemade (his father is already enlisted to brew the beer for our wedding and his mother is a great handweaver), 2. Donations for our mortgage downpayment savings, or 3. Donations to specified charities.
I just can’t stand clutter, and if I felt bad about giving away birthday or christmas gifts, I would feel even worse for considering that for wedding gifts!
We had already been living together for four years when we got married so we felt we had or could afford everything we needed. Instead we asked our family and friends to donate and we funded a library for a girls’ school in Pakistan. We’ve never regretted this decision!
I love giving cash. I know it will never be wasted and no shipping costs or wrapping to throw away. I used my wedding money for a down payment on a used baby grand piano. I enjoyed that gift everyday for 30 years and my husband and children enjoyed listening. When I inherited a better piano I gifted my wedding piano to another young couple so their family could have the gift of music.
What a great story!
Happy 10!! I missed the discussion on this too, but we “registered” on a separate site (not related to a specific store) which allowed us to do links and suggestions rather than being beholden to a specific brand of something. One of our best gifts was our food dehydrator (Thank you, Aunt Ellen, who is the sort of aunt you’d NEVER think of giving you something so practical, but she got us top of the line!) We also registered for sleeping bags, which we’ve used over and over, and a bat house, which we love having. THE best gift was when about 10 of my friends got together and gave us a canoe. (which was on our list as a whim, but totally unanticipated) Blew our minds and gave us transportation for our canoeing/ camping honeymoon. I agree with having things of all prices- we had quite a few utensils such as pizza cutters and such. By not dictating the store or specific item, we allowed people to shop wherever they wanted, and get creative if they wanted. (Hello, rocket whisk, I’m looking at you!)
Good ideas! We love our dehydrator too–so useful!
Now I give money. But I had to learn because early on in my wedding guest career I tried to be creative. The first of our friends to get married was just over 20 years old and had no registry. I was in a particularly artsy stage of my life. Not a great combination for appropriate gift giving. I found this one-of-a-kind salad bowl that I thought was unique and gorgeous but it was pretty out there. It probably would have been great for some folks. But this friend was very conservative in her tastes and not at all artsy. It wasn’t even returnable or exchangeable because I bought it from the artist. Lol. It was just not the right fit for this friend. So now I do resist being creative (excellent advice!) And stick with the registry or more often, cash.
First off, someday I need to tell you the story about how we all thought “cocktail hour” meant the bar was open for *one hour* at your wedding, and I apologize profusely if I and others got silly toward the end of the night. It was a REALLY fun wedding and I’m honored to have attended! (And also, 10 years ago what???!!!) Today’s my wedding anniversary, too!
My favorite wedding gift was a really nice radio that I listen to every single day in my kitchen. Every. Day. It’s a Model One and I see it on TV shows and movies all the time now! It was an incredibly sweet gift that I did not register for but love more than anything. Other good things: a step ladder, luggage, and multiple sets of outdoor furniture that we use constantly. What I wish I’d had the werewithal to register for: plants, or giftcards to a nursery, and oil changes for my car 🙂
Haha, you guys are hilarious. We had so much fun at our wedding and I’m SO glad you were there :)! Happy anniversary to you and D!!!!!
My boyfriend and I (not yet engaged, but relatively on the horizon) *might* have been wandering through a Field and Stream last night and asked the sales associates if they did wedding registries. The answer was sadly no…
Do you all think it is inappropriate or tacky to put things like a smoker or kayaks or the like on registries, if nothing else for the completion discount some places offer?
For those of you who lived away from parents before you got married, did you feel comfortable asking for items you already had, but which were a step up from what you owned? We have plates, glasses, silverware, etc., all of which were found free or thrift (or Walmart, in the case of the silverware).
I think it’s a great idea to register for a kayak or smoker! Whatever you will use is a great idea in my book :). Several readers said they registered for camping equipment and noted that REI apparently offers a registry :).
We got an electric meat smoker! One of my husband’s aunts was more than happy to buy it – she knows he loves meat. It was unexpected and we do use it. I love fun items like those and there are registry sites like MyRegistry that let you add items from any website. My friend got a large Yeti camping cooler on her registry!
We also upgraded all of our household items. Some regrets over broken dishes (my old dishes are still going strong at my brother’s apartment, I want them back!). I don’t think people analyze what you have when they purchase “typical” items like silverware.
My dear Hubby and I married back in 76 and I think we had the most frugal Big Wedding ever…I’m a Preacher’s Kid, so no way it could be small. I wore my mother’s exquisite 1937 wedding dress…with long train. We were getting ready to leave the country so asked for no gifts. (We had one gift I never forgot…a cast iron frying pan, which I did somehow pack.)
So instead of gifts, friends and family gave us the wedding…from organist and singer, string quartet, coffee and tea service, small sandwiches and goodies…even the wedding cake! All gifts from people we cared about.. It was a wonderful experience and I wouldn’t trade it for all the fancy China on earth!
Sounds wonderful :)!
These are such helpful suggestions! We used an Amazon registry which let us add stuff from different stores. I also used wire cutters reviews to help me figure out what to put on there! I’ve gotten a lot of their recommended products and they haven’t disappointed yet!
Here’s a different twist: the gifts my parents (both deceased) received at their 1948 wedding, that I now use and enjoy regularly. I love the sliding lid, metal cake pan that my mother used for her special chocolate cake that was always a part of friends & family picnics. I also love, and regularly use, the chipped-but-still-beautiful salad bowl (made in Portugal, it says on the bottom!) that looks like a head of lettuce. Seventy years later, these gifts are still used, loved, and appreciated.
Today is my husband’s and my 15th wedding anniversary. 🙂
There are so many great suggestions in the post and comments. I’m looking around our kitchen, and the Cuisinart food processor, knife set, flatware set, and heavy glass pitcher are still in frequent use. All cash that we received went into the down payment of our house.
If we had to register all over again, we would skip the china and crystal (not our style) and register for sturdier everyday dishes, like the Fiestaware we bought several years ago to replace the wedding gift dishes that basically chipped if you looked at them funny. We also would have registered for stainless steel and cast iron pots/pans rather than nonstick (we were young and clueless), as we’ve had to replace every single pot and pan over the years. I don’t think we’ll ever have to replace our current pieces, though. Today, I’d also register for an Instant Pot, which we use at least twice per week.
Great Knives! My sister has be divorced three times and she always took her knives with her. Kitchen Aid mixer used mine for over thirty years. Always correct and welcome money…cold, hard, cash. Then you do not have to shop or spend time and money or gas. It is always the correct size, color, and will never be returned or traded off. Please write thank you notes soon!
Great topic! We got married in 2016 after 9 years together, so we only upgraded a few things we already had from years ago: silverware, new wine and drinking glasses, so it’s a full set, new set of plates. All these feel so grown up and luxurious to use everyday and we love it! Besides that, we got experiences that reflect who we are: living in NYC and avid bikers for recreation and transport, we both got yearly Citibike bike share membership (extensions, as we already have and use it every day), being avid outdoors enthusiasts (we first met on a camping trip, afterall), a paid experience of an outing with a outdoor recreation company (Discover Outdoors), new hiking gear from REI to replace our beat up items, and the rest was a ‘down payment fund’ which we invested and are still adding our savings towards (hello NYC – it’ll take so long to get a 20% down at the Nyc prices). Definitely no china or crystals or cakestands for us! Our registry reflected who we are, now who we’re ‘supposed’ to be according to some expected traditions.
We were given 2 Hudson bay wool blankets which are used almost every day. Best gifts ever!
Congratulations on 10 Happy Years!
Since we’d both been living on our own for several years and we were 30 when we got married, there was very little we “needed.”
Since I hate shopping I outsourced the gift register to my husband who went a little crazy…registering for 7, yes, 7 clocks. We received every.single.one! It also led to some funny moments since I had no idea what we were registered for, I complimented several wedding shower attendees on their wonderful taste in presents, only to be told that they were items from our registry. Lol!
However, the very most meaningful gifts were the gifts of time and talent from our friends. One friend did all of our flowers, another wrote and played an original song for our special day. The mother of three children that I “borrowed” whenever I wanted to go do kids things made the flower girl dress and a grad school friend sang “Ave Maria” (in English!). A dear college friend even played the piano (including his own little joke “The Lady is a Tramp”) at our reception. Those gifts are certainly the most memorable and thoughtful, not to mention frugal, gifts we received!
For my sister’s wedding I went right off the registry. I hate shopping too but thought it was the best way to simply give her what she and my now BIL want. I know my sister was happy with it. And there are plenty of places to get creative outside of the gift. The card could be homemade or contain a hand-written letter, or for me I put my energies into the speech. (In lieu of a Maid of Honor I was the “Bro of Honor”) I think my words meant more to my sister than the items I bought, though I know she is making use of those as well.
The one thing I registered for that we still have and love and use often 18 years later is a marble cheese board. Maybe not everyone would use a marble cheese board but it looks great and its super heavy so there’s little chance of losing it!
Planning a wedding next summer – I’d LOVE to see more articles/reader suggestions on planning a frugal and meaningful wedding 🙂 Bookmarking this page for when we get there…
Don’t do anything you don’t want. No one will remember. We focused on good food and open bar (within our budget) and scrutinized every line item. Our favors cost $0.50 and we ordered way less cake than recommended but had way too much left over.
You should absolutely check out A Practical Wedding (both the blog and the book). It isn’t specifically geared toward being frugal, but it is geared at being practical and true to yourself.
Definitely focus on what’s important to you and ditch what’s not.
We had no cakes, no cars and no favours but did have great food and booze.
No one even noticed that we didn’t have a wedding cake.
For wedding outfits, Etsy is a great option- my bridesmaids wore lace tops and tutus and they were custom-made for a very reasonable price.
Also, people will tell you that you need to spend heaps on photography- you do not.
We chose to write our own vows and they were a surprise to each other on the day and it was by far, the best decision we made of the wedding. Listening to my beloved weep his way through the vows he’d written just for me is a moment I’ll never forget.
Think about what you most want to remember for the day and plan for that. What have you loved about other events that you’ve been to (not only weddings!)? Do you want to be able to sit and chat with your guests after the ceremony or dance til dawn – or both?! No one will eat as much as we think they will, but they may drink more! And put your $ and time into planning for it all to run smoothly: outsource and/or find volunteers for all the jobs (setting up, music, waiting/bussing tables, cleaning up, restocking drinks and food, etc) so that you can focus on one another. Have a lovely day 🎊
Sigh – I like the idea of experience gifts but one couple I know asked for cash for a honeymoon and then didn’t go! I felt so bad for them for the circumstances but felt like I contributed to nothing? I’m not sure. It was an awkward bridal shower just opening up envelopes! I usually bring gifts to the bridal shower (always on registry) and cash to the wedding. I like to buy a little token gift to personalize the larger shower gift, nothing more than $5.
We got many off registry gifts and I felt so badly that we do not use them. Large platters, decorative objects, etc, that we have no space for. Many are in my basement to be sold once an appropriate period of time has passed. We did get other really nice off registry gifts – a camping friend got us mugs from our favorite campground with a fire pit and a box of smores supplies. I use the mugs every week and my husband loves the fire pit.
We also got a very creative cash gift for those uncomfortable with just cash (like I sometimes am, but I’m working to overcome it and dedicate myself to giving more cash!!). We went to Europe for our honeymoon and one grandmother got us “euros” from her bank. She had to order them and it was very sweet. It was a huge help when we couldn’t get the ATM to work at the airport at 1am!
Everything we recieved from our registry ten years ago we either still use or has worn out. We had several people go off registry and we ended up only keeping the chip and dip set and the platter that comes out once a year. Both items are beautiful clutter that my husband isn’t ready to unload quite yet. When we give gifts it is either from the registry or cash.
Your kitchenaid mixer should go keep going strong for decades. My mother has a harvest gold beauty that is at least 41 years old because it has been around as long as I have. 🙂
I’m getting married in June and have been a big fan of the registry website ‘Zola.’ It allowed us to register and aggregate items from any store (much like Pinterest) and also register for ‘experiences’ aka a honeymoon fund people can contribute to. We are in our late 20s and both had many household items so we used it as a way to upgrade our staples. Some of my favorite items that I registered for are: Mariposa and Beatriz Ball silver serve wear, a le creuset dutch oven, kitchenaid mixer, food processor and kettle. I am personally of the mindset that I would prefer to receive gifts since they are things I wouldn’t buy for myself and money can often times get ‘lost in the wash’ of household expenses. A great topic, thanks!
We did a charity registry via Crowdrise.com and got a great response! We selected three non-profits (mine, his, and ours) and wrote a little paragraph about why each was important to us. Most people donated via this registry, but we also got some cash/gift cards, which was also great!
We did get a few personal, creative gifts. The ones from close friends who knew our taste were lovely. Most of these friends also checked in with us beforehand, to make sure we would like, for instance, a hand-turned wooden salad bowl (yes!). The others were given away or will remain perpetual closet clutter (due to personalization). I would be cautious in giving off-registry gifts.
Based on our experience, there is a bit of a generational divide in this area. Older people were a little confused about our non-stuff registry, so we added an intro paragraph explaining our shared philanthropic philosophy and that we never planned to live in a large space. That helped a little.
So I am a little shocked nobody has mentioned the fact that Amazon has a wedding registry!! My husband and I just got married two weeks ago, and our guests have LOVED the convenience of Amazon. Through that, they were able to ship directly to our house, and we could register for a wide variety of things. Some of my favorites include our new kitchen gadgets (Love my chop N’ bopper and my really nice coffee maker), board games, and camping and outdoor stuff. We love have barbecues at our house and lounging in our yard, so we have received many gifts that have helped us build up a little patio for entertaining, picnicking, camping, fire starting, etc. I also registered for a few fun things for my dog, and my friends have loved buying me those fun little gifts, like a dog bath robe (useful, practical, but also hilarious).
Note to newly engaged people: Making your registry will take longer than you expect. Especially if you are frugal and environmentally conscious. I priced out everything on Amazon, read hundreds of reviews, discussed with my partner, and kept reevaluating throughout our engagement (especially as things have become out of stock). It is never too early to start the process, and if you take it seriously, you will have household items that will last your (hopefully) forever.
Wonderful suggestions and tips here! I would love to see Mrs. Frugalwoods do a future Readers’ Suggestion post on Frugal Weddings.
Two dear friends got married recently….both are in the late 40’s and never married. Both love to cook and had all the “stuff” they would ever need. So they asked the guest to bring a gift for them to donate to a women’s shelter program in our community…this program helps women get out of abusive relationships and sets them up in apartments. Many of these women bring nothing with them but the clothes on their backs and what they can grab for their children. It was a wonderful gesture and meant that the shelter received sheets, blankets, towels and a gift cards to Wal Mart and Target…it was one time someone wasn’t unhappy to get 4 toasters and 3 coffee makers!!
What an absolutely wonderful idea!! Your friends sound like amazing people.
I give everyone the same wedding gift: a gift card to a fancy grocery store in their hometown and a reusable shopping bag. And if I go to someone’s engagement party or shower, they get two mugs and a gift card to a local coffee shop.
(In addition to being fairly useful, these things are inexpensive to ship/wrap, for those of us who resent spending a bunch of money on gift trappings, in addition to the gift itself.)
We got a lovely gift of beers from an out-of-state brewery that my husband and I both like. It was a thoughtful treat that we could enjoy and not have to keep around the house or move whenever we moved. Likewise a nice bottle of wine or a gift card for a restaurant you know the couple enjoys is a nice date night treat.
Resist the temptation to give to the employees at Bed, Bath and Beyond who try to tell you what you need on your registry. “Oh, you need this $50 toaster.” Actually, I do not need that $50 toaster. If you register only register for the items that you could actually see yourself buying. My sister is getting married in September and I constantly uses hand warmers, I actually suggested she add a couple boxes to her registry. Some people love to buy gifts off the registry, so why not get something that you would actually buy in the near future anyway. And unless I am very close with the couple, personalized gifts are not the way to go. Most of the ones I received at my wedding sit in the back of the closet because they aren’t out style or we have no where to put them.
My spouse and I are both engineers, so on more than one occasion, we encountered Sears registries for our engineer friends – primarily for tools! I think tools and toolboxes are a fantastically practical idea and am surprised none of your readers submitted that idea! Maybe this is a function of the circles we move in 🙂
My husband and I had been together for nine years and lived together for eight of those years when we got married, so put “No Gifts” on our invitations. We invited 100 family members and only 45 attended our wedding, and for the most part people respected our wishes! We got a bit of cash and a few preloaded credit cards to put toward our honeymoon. I was super happy that nobody gave us crap we didn’t need!
30 years down the road, we are still using some of the towels that were gifted to us (my dad advised me not to return any towels), we still use the salad servers we received, and some of the glass kitchen items, as well as stainless steel mixing bowls (they beat out glass or ceramic because they won’t break!). What I realized after about 10 years was that we should have registered for more neutral, classic items. The stoneware we received scratched and chipped, and looked super dated within a few years anyway. If we’d registered for white Corelle (which we have now) it would still be going strong. We got all sorts of colors of towels (not by our choice, actually), and again, all white linens (towels, sheets, duvet cover, kitchen linens, etc.) would have been more practical and not make our bathroom scream out 1988 well into the early 2000s. Plus they can all be washed together, which saves time.
I also wish we’d registered for fewer items of higher quality. All of the small appliances we registered for were cheap and are no longer with us. Even the knives we chose were cheap, and we replaced them after 5 years. The pots and pans we received (didn’t register for) were awful thin metal with nonstick coating, so they are long gone. We should have registered for something basic but of decent quality, like Farberware or Reverware. Even an American made cast iron skillet would have been a good choice (I now have the cast iron pans that had belonged to my grandparents).
Seriously, if I was registering now, I would go basis, classic, and of good quality (not necessarily name brand high end). A cast iron skillet and Dutch oven. Plain white Corelle, or an assortment of Fiesta Ware (made in USA). White or off-white for all of the linens, and register for a good duvet that you can use your whole life and only need to replace the cover. American made flatware (Liberty is made in the USA and is great quality). Luminarc “working” glasses with lids for storage, in two sizes. Pyrex food storage with snap lids. Stainless steel mixing bowls, nested, plus one good sized glass mixing bowl for raising bread. Had sheet pans for roasting and cooking in the oven. Pyrex baking pans, USA Pan for cookie sheets and other baking items. I’d go for a Ankrsrum Assistent or Bosch mixer over the Kitchen Aid, any day, a Breville food processor, a Japanese made rice cooker, and an Instant Pot. A Vitamix would be fantastic too!
Oh, I just remembered one wedding appliance that is still with us. My grandmother’s friend gifted us a Farberware electric skillet that she had received for her own wedding but didn’t use much. It is still in service in our kitchen! I love it so much that I’ve picked up a couple more at thrift stores so that my boys can have them when they move out.
We got a fireproof safe. Best gift ever. Not something you really want to spend money on, but something that’s really good to have
Cash is the best gift. It retains 100% of its value in the eyes of the recipients. Gift cards or other gifts are always devalued a bit (sometimes more than a bit) to the recipients.
We never would have thought to register for these, but we used the nice iron and the weed whacked to death. I started collecting canning supplies for my new daughter-in-law. I was able to get her a pressure canned, a Victoria Applesauce Maker with several screens, a steamer/juicer, and a large, 9 qt water bath canner. I also found a lot of jars and canned some things, like sauce from our Apple tree, to get her going
Thank you for this post! Gift giving has been on my mind a lot recently, between birthdays, mothers day, fathers day, graduations, baby showers, bridal showers, and weddings. As a recent frugal weirdo (long time reader, late convert), I’ve really struggled with how to balance being extremely frugal and giving gifts. In many cases, the amount you spend on a gift indicates how much you value the relationship with the recipient, so I feel the need to spend more money on gifts for those close to me while struggling with not wanting to spend a lot of money. Is this an instance where frugality lets us spend money on something important to us? Or is frugality part of the gift-buying process? What do you do? And what do other frugal weirdos do?
“…the amount you spend on a gift indicates how much you value the relationship with the recipient….”
This is an interesting comment.
I’ve always felt that the value of the relationship I have with others has no monetary attachment.
In fact, if a very close relationship, I would have a more comfortable time talking to that person about where I was in my life and asking if there was a way we could both be comfortable with a ‘gift’, even if was simply one of time.
i.e. pleasure of your company
offer to do a much disliked chore for them
babysitting for a date night
It is possible that an offer of your time would be MUCH more ‘valuable’ to your close friends than $$$.
Just a thought.
Happy 10 year annaversary, Mr and Mrs Frugalswoods!
One gift I registered for was a good set of pots and pans.. Over 25 years later I am still using them. I also registered for fine china a glass wear, which, while I don’t use everyday, I still enjoy. My I laws gave us silver wear. I love it, though I have to keep it in the bank! For some odd reason, I received a dozen beautiful crystal bowls!!
Being very frugal, we still use many gifts from our wedding 20+ years ago: food processor, KitchenAid mixer, quilt, towels (still going strong), etc. That being said, when we were engaged, we wasted an entire long weekend driving 6+ hours each way to the nearest large town to register at the chain stores that did not exist near us (at my future MIL’s “request”). She looked at the list (which consisted of practical items), and was aghast that it did not include china, crystal, or other traditional items that we would never use. So she told her entire side of the family that we “didn’t register for anything good” and they should just give us cash. Although we were irked that we wasted a very precious long weekend, we were thrilled with the gifts of money.
Okay, that pic of you and Babywoods seriously made me smile. So cute!
Congrats on almost ten years!! Can’t wait to hear about the frugal celebration. 🙂 We just celebrated three years of marriage and it’s been so much fun.
As far as our wedding registry, we kept things practical. We already lived together and didn’t need to buy things. In fact, we combined households and had TOO MUCH stuff! Instead, we asked people to donate to our Honeyfund, which we used to pay for a nice honeymoon at Disney World. We didn’t spend A DIME of our own money at Disney World. We were able to have a great experience that we still talk about. 🙂
I’m a bit of a procrastinator, so buy the time I get around to buying gifts for a couple, their registry is usually pretty picked over. To stay in budget, I like to buy them a small-sized, useful item from the store where they are registered. That way, hopefully they’ll find a use for it, but if not, it’s easy for them to return to the store. Chances are, they’ll have to go to the store to make a lot of returns/exchanges anyway, so if they decide to return it, it’s kind of like giving them a gift card to that store.
I know that this will sound tiresome, but bear with me: my husband and I have started sending cash or gift cards. Here are a few of the responses we have received in order of favorite:
1) “Thank you for the Amazon gift card. We used it to buy a rice cooker. We’ve used it three time in the past two days and love the multiple functions. I just put in some rice and water on my way out the door and when we got home 9 hours later, we had perfectly cooked rice! Thank you, etc.”
2) “Thank you for the Amazon gift card”
3) radio silence.
I like the fact that the first person actually told us a bit about what our gift emerged as; I felt strangely vacant and unsatisfied about the second response, and worried that the lack of response in case #3 indicated that somehow the gift card had gone astray. I’ve mentioned this to a couple of people who have treated me as if I am a diabolical in expecting some sort of response.
But doesn’t the gift giver deserve to know that his or her gift ended up here it should?
Yes. Yes they do. And yet….
I agree that a registry is nice to have for those who really like to want to give gifts. They do save a bit of worry: when we got married, we didn’t have a registry at a store in my hometown and ended up with 21 crystal pitchers (yes, it was a big wedding) that the salespeople would suggest since we didn’t have a registry there! Thankfully we could exchange most of them for other more useful items. I really love to give a little piece of cookware from a registry along with a recipe that I enjoy cooking that would use that piece. It’s a small, personal touch that doesn’t take up much room!
My husband and I are still using the KitchenAid mixer my parents received as a wedding gift in 1967. I hope yours is still going strong on your 50th anniversary.
We got invited to a destination wedding this summer over in Hawaii. Unfortunately we can’t go and wanted to give a gift to the couple. Instead of registries, what the couple did was have various items they wanted the guest to put a contribution to like a spa day for the couple, upgrade their suite for their honeymoon, and even upgrading their flight to their honeymoon to first class. They mentioned that they didn’t need gifts and instead provide them a better experience with their destination wedding and honeymoon. I thought that was a unique idea!
This might be stating the obvious, but don’t “half-a$$” your registry choices. When my husband and I registered for items, it was done in a rush, a few hours one Saturday when I was visiting him from out of town and I was a barely 21 year old first year law student. I was more worried about exams than what color and pattern of china I preferred. This was way before the scanner era and you had to make your selections in person with a sales associate scheduled weeks in advance. That being said, the stuff we still use almost 23 years later includes a crock pot, cast iron skillets, and steak knives. And, YES, to including lower priced items on the registry!
My suggestions after 10 years of being in a house are: extension cords in all sizes. I’m thinking for Christmas lights, tools, parties outside that need speakers, etc. A ladder. A nice drill. And I am not a fan of the towel suggestion, b/c I think you can always buy decent towels anywhere. I’m a bigger fan of nice pillow inserts. They can be pricey, but they make every single pillow look better, which I guess might sound dumb to someone who doesn’t care about that kind of thing. But, over time, tastes might change, and you might want a different color or print, but the nice insert, will still be great. I also love our 3 cutco knives, I use them for EVERYTHING! And, aghhh, the kitchen aid mixer was wasted on me! My mother-in-law insisted, and I had no interest 10 years ago and still don’t. It only is ever used for the chocolate cookies my hubby makes, which will probably make someone sad. If someone is willing to buy you a Le Crueset, then YESSS! Go for it!!
I don’t think anyone has mentioned TOOLS! (Although I admit I didn’t read every comment.) Especially nice power tools. The definition of useful!
Great point! Thank you!
We will celebrate our 50th in August so I went to our list of wedding gifts in our “Wedding Keepsake Book”. The items we still have after 50 years: set of Anchor Hocking glass (consists of relish plates, cruet, small bowl, salt and pepper, sugar and creamer, butter dish….all in use today. Also a couple of Pyrex casserole dishes and a lazy susan remain. I counted 21 checks. Other items we used for years and then passed along or sold at garage sales.
We didn’t make a registry and, in retrospect, I think we should have. There were so many people who were borderline offended (mostly older guests) that we didn’t have a registry (I guess they didn’t believe us when we said, “Since you are traveling to us, please, we just want you to enjoy the day !”) We were surprised and delighted by the gifts we did receive, though–a couple of high quality knives we use every single day are still going strong many years later, and we received a wonderful electric steamer (the tiered kind that you can cook your meat, vegetables, and grain in, layered) that we recently replaced because we wore it out through near-constant use! We never would have chosen it for ourselves, but a health-conscious relative gave it to us, and I have been very grateful for it. It came in especially handy once our baby began eating solids–I could batch-steam tons of apples, carrots or any fruit or vegetable and know that I was preserving as many nutrients as possible while also being free from surveilling an oven or stove. It also makes our cheap, frozen vegetables taste delicious because they are cooked so gently. Seriously, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
The best gift was cash, though. We were hit with a high tax bill right after coming back from our honeymoon (not income tax, which also arrived at that time and was planned. It was a European property tax that even most renters have to pay–you pay tax depending on where you live and what impact your apartment has on the city environment. It corresponds directly to the number of windows you have facing the street, surface area, etc) It was tax for my husband’s former rented apartment, and we were both shocked at the cost. Wedding money to the rescue! We were saddened to lose a significant portion of the money to this expense, but, on the other hand, we were grateful to have money on hand so that we didn’t have to take on a small debt to pay it off! (Shoestring budget at the time…and it led to a much more careful approach to longer-term budgeting, so lesson learned!)
So many great ideas! I’m in my 40s but had two sets of young friends get married a couple of years ago. They were fresh out of university, not much money etc. Knowing they were on a shoestring budget my husband and I gave them cash as their wedding present a few months before the wedding. Both couples were stoked, and used the cash to buy flowers, and pay for a band.
An added to bonus to getting practical gifts is that every time you use the gift you think of the person who gave it. A Dear Aunt and Uncle gave us a crockpot that we continue to use despite it being over 39 years old …. Montgomery Ward no less…..And my Dear Grandfather gave us “Cadillac” Revere cook wear as a wedding gift which DW continues to use every day. Though these folks are no longer with us, using these gifts brings back warm thoughts and memories of them. And a KitchenAid mixer is in a class of it’s own…DW has one and no other mixer compares…worth every penny….
I think the inherent challenge in creating a registry is that it’s completely backwards for those of us who are trying to minimize and be thoughtful about what we purchase. Sometimes you *think* a thing will be useful, but it turns out it’s not, multiply that by the number of gifts you get and you can end up with a lot of things you *thought* would be great gifts. It’s hard to be thoughtful & intentional about every single one of the 100+ items you might put on a registry, so here’s how it went down for me and my husband. Keep in mind we didn’t plan it out this way, but we’re glad it worked out. We hadn’t combined households, had no idea what we might want to replace, upgrade, or add, but knew that we needed a registry. We created a Honey Fund, and we did the scanner spree at Bed Bath & Beyond. People could easily ship gifts straight to our home, and we could easily then return those gifts right to the store once we realized that we did NOT need 12 martini glasses and 24 wine glasses. We got store credit and then were able to more slowly purchase things we actually needed as we realized those needs, like a vacuum cleaner and a 3 qt saute pan. I know this approach won’t work for everyone, but if you feel ok about returning gifts, I highly recommend it! I would say most people who have gotten married and done the registry thing COMPLETELY understand if you return a wedding gift because they’ve been through the whole thing.
If you plan to give the couple money at the wedding (which I always do), I would put a cheque in the card instead of cash. I’ve heard many stories of card boxes being picked through by people looking to steal cash (I’m assuming it’s people working at the venue, not your friends and family). Sad, but true. Depositing cheques these days is also really easy, and I never have cash on me anyway so it saves me a trip to the bank. And if possible, lock your card box if you are getting married!
Kitchen Aid is cute but I’d always pick Kenwood. Breaks less and you can buy attachments like a food processor so you don’t need a separate one. I went a bit mad on our registry “free things” and lots ended up unused. But the Le Creuset, towels, blankets, bath mat and knives are going strong, even after the divorce! The off list things that people bought were all hideous (I know I sound ungrateful) so not only couldn’t I use them, but had to store them in case someone asked about it
My sister gifted us a pair of large fluffy robes- super luxurious and something we never would’ve bought ourselves, but gosh they are nice to wear around the house in winter!
My husband and I were still in college when we got married, so our wedding registry was full of practical, much needed items. One of my favorite bridal shower presents was a trash can full of cleaning supplies (disposable gloves, dish gloves, cleaners, towels, etc) from my aunt and an ice cream supplies set from a cousin (fun toppings, cute bowls, a good scoop, and a gift card to go buy ice cream. One of my dad’s friends got us a basic tool kit that wasn’t on our registry that was awesome even when we were in apartments and didn’t do much DIY (at some point you will probably need to measure a room or a piece of furniture, put together a piece of furniture, or use a hammer to hang a picture). One thing I will never regret is registering for nice All-Clad pots and pans and nice knives. 9 years later they’re still going strong and get used every day. Even though it killed me to ask for $80+ pots and pans, I don’t think we will ever have to replace them. The only thing I regret on our registry was thick, heavy plates and bowls. We got rid of them after a few years because they took up so much cabinet space in small apartment kitchens. We replaced them with plain white plates and bowls from Ikea that are cheap and easy to replace when they get broken.
First Christmas Together holiday ornaments or other decorations.
Kitchen fire extinguisher, smoke detector, carbon-monoxide detector.
Postage stamps – pick a neat design.
Gift cards are available for many more places than I realized. I was too late to order one for a friend-couple’s state’s State Park System, but if I had shopped earlier, I could have contributed to their camping trips.
I like gift cards for a store the couple is registered at, but also try to “wrap” them so it looks more thoughtful. Put decorative stickers on the card, (not on the magnetic strip), carefully fasten them inside a greeting card, include a good coupon if you have one, (Bed, Bath, and Beyond often does). Or put the gift card in a quality picture frame, (those go on clearance often), as this is one of the times of life when tons of photos are taken and seldom displayed.
For new homeowners, an American flag and flag pole bracket.
I, too, know and love the transformative power of a stand mixer…I am so attached to mine! We already have most of the house things we need, though I’d probably put on the list a Cast Iron shallow casserole dish just because it’s a good, long-term investment item. It really is a great way to set yourself up for life with anything you don’t yet have in your household list. And if not, what a great idea to get people to pitch in for your honey moon!
A fire extinguisher or two as a gift. Not exciting , but very practical. One of those items that most people don’t think about. A friend of mine actually used one of her extinguishers a few months after the wedding, when part of her kitchen caught fire..
If I’m invited to the shower I give towels/linens. For the wedding, I always give cash. When I got married 14 years ago we got about half the stuff we registered for and quite a bit of cash. I think we went back and bought maybe 5 things on the registry with the cash. When it came right down to it, there was no denying we had more important uses for the money than more stuff. I assume we are not alone in that and if we are the couple can always use the cash to complete their registry.
In Australia we have the time honored tradition of the wishing well. Which is cash for their house or honeymoon.
Other things I like to gift include fancy pants Champagne and the odd artwork.
Happy anniversary! If you’re going to buy gifts, here’s another vote for Solidteknics pans, plus towels, sheets, knives – the absolute best quality you can find. My grandmother always said it was bad luck to give knives, unless you also gave money, so that might be a good combo😀.
Creativity is good, but with the proviso of taking ego out of it and finding something that the couple really needs and loves. Experiences are a better bet for that.
We’re getting married in a week, and our registry is comprised entirely of items we’ll donate to a homeless shelter in our town- the shelter worked with us to create the registry so we could ensure they were getting exactly what they needed! We’ve been living together for 6+ years and have everything we need, so we chose to use this special occasion where people enjoy giving gifts to help those who actually DO need things, often times desperately. I hope more people choose this kind of registry, as those of us who can afford to have a wedding can also afford to buy our own kitchen appliances – let’s use our privilege to help those who really need it!
Love your blog! 🙂