Want to make sure you get the wedding gifts you really want—and will actually use them for the long haul? Follow these clever tips from top bridal registry pros. 

By Betsy Goldberg
Updated May 22, 2015
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White ceramic dishware
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1. “Think of your registry lists as your own little curated shop. You want to balance conversation pieces with basics and cover a range of price points (a selection under $50, under $100, and so on). But instead of adding random fluff to ensure enough inexpensive pieces, amp up the quantities of great staples like nice towels. It’s better to end up with a few more towels than a drawer full of gadgets that will rarely be used.”

—Christina Frederick, customer styling director at Anthropologie

2. “I recommend registering for 12 dinnerware place settings—but instead of choosing the same 12, select six in one pattern that’s a little more formal and six in another, more casual design. That way, you can use the more formal plates for a small dinner party, and mix the two patterns together for a bigger brunch.”

—Kathy McTigue, director of The Registry at Bloomingdale’s

3. “If you’re fortunate enough to have inherited pieces from parents or grandparents, bring them with you when you register so you can combine your selections with these family heirlooms. There is nothing more meaningful than setting a dinner table with pieces from two or three generations.”

—Jung Lee, NYC event planner and owner of Jung Lee NY

4. “It’s hard to make decisions on dinnerware just by looking at it piece by piece. Instead, take plates, bowls, glasses, and flatware off the shelf and design your own ‘tablescape’ while you’re visiting a store—that way, you get to see how the mix will look in your home.”

—Susan Bertelsen, group vice president for Macy’s Wedding and Gift Registry

5. “Don’t be afraid to dream big and include a piece of furniture or a pricey lamp if you love it. Family members or friends may want to go in together on an investment piece for you both, so that can be a thoughtful option.”

—Christina Frederick, customer styling director at Anthropologie

6. “If you’re on the fence about an item, consider whether it has multiple uses that make it more valuable. For example, a footed glass isn’t just for drinks; it can hold a single stem or serve as a vessel for cheese sticks when you’re entertaining. I tell my brides, ‘Don’t register for it if you’re not going to use it frequently. Life’s too short!’”

—Jung Lee, NYC event planner and owner of Jung Lee NY

7. “Some couples like to send a photo of themselves using the registry gift along with their thank-you note. Even if you don’t, it’s a good exercise to visualize yourself doing this with the pieces you select. It will help you recognize the value and function for each item you add to the registry—and can help you re-think some of the products that may otherwise go unused and just take up space in your home.”

—Abigail Jacobs, VP of brand marketing at West Elm