When I got married last spring, one of the many decisions was where we’d register. I won’t say this was an easy or hard decision—it was more of a weird decision. Frankly, I was in my early 30s and had owned a house for several years, so it felt odd or even rude asking people to buy me stuff. I had already inherited or bought dishes (I love handmade pottery, so I asked a local potter to make them), silver (inherited), and glassware (you can’t live through your 20s without a myriad of glasses, right?), so the old standbys weren’t top of our list.
I just wanted friends and family to come to our wedding and eat, drink and be merry. Gifts we’re even top of mind. But wonderful friends wanted to throw us wedding showers and needed to know what they should buy, so register we did. And now I’m really glad we did.
Wedding showers are different these days. They’re not all tea and crumpets for the ladies (though if that’s what you’re into, go for it!), but instead involve all members of the family and are really a whole lot of fun. Just check out the pics from this barbecue-themed shower. Looks like a good time, eh?
My advice for the DIYer getting married? Register for stuff you’ll really use in your daily life. There are actually a lot of places or ways that active DIYers can register for gifts like these. Here are some tips for wedding registries in the modern DIY world, based on my experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts, stories and tips, too!
1. Shop Local
One of my greatest memories from a friend’s wedding is of a pre-ceremony shopping trip. My friends Summer and Dominick (they’ll be celebrating their eight anniversary this year—wow, has it really been that long!?) registered for handmade pottery at a local ceramic studio in Minneapolis. So rather than lugging a gift on the trip from the Southeast to Michigan, all our friends sojourned to a great little neighborhood in Minneapolis the day before the ceremony to pick out gifts for the couple. It was nice to meet the gift makers in person, and for our group of friends to shop locally together. If I hadn’t already commissioned a full set of dishes from a local potter years before, I totally would’ve done this.
Tip: Seek out crafters or artisans to create handmade gifts for you and allow your friends to purchase them.
For our wedding, registering at a local gift shop in my hometown was a necessity. Seriously, it’s just what you do. Luckily, Greeks Bearing Gifts had lots of great items to choose from, and I was more than happy to support a local business in my small hometown.
Tip: Look for local shops in your area that would manage a small registry for you.
2. Say “I Do” to Tools
You may think you have all the tools you need, but you’re wrong. You can always have more tools! And with the popularity of tool showers these days, it’s really surprising that more home improvement stores aren’t jumping on the registry bandwagon. I personally think it’s a great opportunity to capture the DIYer at each stage of life: moving into that first apartment or house, getting married and consolidating homes, and renovating for when a baby comes. But oddly enough, most major home improvement retailers don’t have a good registry system. We tried Home Depot and it worked, though not exactly how we’d planned. The registry system is pretty analog—not the snapping items with a bar-code scanner experience we had at Williams-Sonoma (see below). Friends who shopped at the store where we registered had luck, but others just bought Home Depot gift cards (which is awesome, too).
Tip: Check your locally owned or franchised hardware store to see if they have a registry. Ace Hardware might be an option—though it looks like they don’t have a national registry program, some are available on the local level. You can also ask for gift cards from your favorite stores.
Either way, hint to friends and family that you might like a tool or stock the garage shower. Browse this one for ideas and inspiration.
3. Go for the Gear
We really love the outdoors. Camping, hiking, paddling—that’s our thing. So when it came time to register, I remembered that a couple friends of mine had used the REI registry for their wedding. We followed their lead, and then some. While we had a lot of gear already, we took the opportunity to upgrade our equipment and get some small luxuries that make roughing it a little less rough and even a little more romantic. A few of my favorites are our CamelBak packs for hydration on the trail (we used them during our hiking honeymoon in Moab, Utah), egg holders for perfect campsite breakfasts, and our double hammock for lounging around anywhere (I absolutely love napping in a hammock).
Tip: If you’re into the kind of sleeping-outdoors-and-cooking-over-fire DIY that we are, I suggest you give the REI registry a try.
4. Get Cooking
If you have a Williams-Sonoma in your area, I highly suggest letting go of your “Oh, I don’t need anything else!” attitude (wait, was it just me who felt that way?) and get down there to register. It’s really fun. They give you a wand where you zap items and watch your registry being created, and then the registry is available in stores and online. It’s a sophisticated system. We had a lot of the basics already, but I did find lots of add-ons that I’ve really used.
Being a gardener, I bring in a lot of fresh produce that needs to be washed. Our berry colander is a new favorite. And my new food mill came in super handy last fall when I turned the bumper crop of tomatoes into tomato sauce. Williams-Sonoma also has their new Agrarian line for gardening and preserving products. It wasn’t available to us for registering at the time, but maybe it is now. If not, we should all band together and lobby for it, because it appears they have some beautiful, useful stuff.
Tip: If you love to cook or grow vegetables, consider kitchen equipment that’ll expand your horizons and your cooking and preserving options.
In addition to cooking items, culinary stores like Williams-Sonoma offer lots of barware, perfect for the ever-popular stock the bar shower.
5. Give Back
In lieu of buying stuff, we also gave guests the option of donating to some of our favorite charities. We chose organizations that meant something to us, including the river conservation organization that originally brought us together, the nature preserve where we chose to be married, and the local chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We had a few people take us up on this offer, though most of them also bought us material gifts. I think maybe people just like to buy tangible gifts that they know you’ll use, and when you use them, you’ll think of the person who chose them for you.
Tip: Give guests the opportunity to donate to charities that mean something to you. Word this suggestion as an “either/or” option (either buy a gift or donate, not both) but be prepared for your generous friends and family to do both.
These are the places and ways that we registered with our DIY sensibilities in mind. I know there must be other options, though. Target, for example, has a great registry system for nearly any life change. There are also websites where you can aggregate wish lists and registries from various sources into one custom registry. We didn’t go this route, but MyRegistry.com looks like a good option for this type of DIY wedding registry.
So, tell me your DIY wedding registry experiences. Did you find any other great sources?