One of the things I struggled with the most while planning my wedding was registering for gifts. My fiancée and I are both past 30. We have a stocked kitchen. Our home lacks for nothing, really. Then there is the issue of space. We already live in a small space and don’t have much room for more stuff.
Yet our loved ones want to honor our big day by giving us gifts. They were all expecting us to have a wedding registry, but we couldn’t let their generosity overwhelm us with unwanted clutter. Our soluation: a minimalist wedding registry. Here’s how we made our guests happy with gift-giving suggestions that stayed true to our desire not to acquire more stuff.
First, let’s talk about minimalism
I’ve always liked this definition of minimalism best: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” My interpretation of this rule is to have the very best things in your home. The best things don’t need to be replaced often (if ever, for some things), and they’re perfect registry items because they’re the kind of thing we wouldn’t buy on our own.
Next, let’s talk about one of the cardinal rules of minimalism: one for one. This means that with every new item received, you must take out something that it’s replacing. Or, if it’s not replacing anything, you have to find another item to get rid of. We were already aiming to decrease the amount of stuff in our home, not increase, so we will need to do some decluttering after the wedding.
Now for the registry. Everything we registered for fell into one of four categories: nicer versions of things we already own, things we’d like to own but that we don’t need, things to save or create space and experiences or charitable donations.
Below is a sample from our list.
1. Nicer versions of things we already own
Yes, we already own a lot of things, but many of those things could be nicer, higher quality or a better fit for our needs. A wedding registry is the perfect place to ask for items that will be an upgrade of what we already own. In following the guidelines of minimalism, we’re planning on donating, recycling or even regifting the items our gifts will replace. Here are a few examples from our registry.
Knives and a cutting board
Every cook needs a good set of knives. While we may have some decent ones already, truly nice knives last years and would be appreciated almost every time we make a meal. So, we added a Chef’s knife, paring knife and cleaver to the lists… as well as a place to put them in the drawer.
Another addition to our list (that would pair perfectly with knives as a gift) was this beautiful cutting board. It’s a little pricy, but it will last our entire lives and serve as a great statement piece for our kitchen.
Crockery and a slow cooker
In a similar vein, this slow cooker is everything anyone could want in a slow cooker. It browns, it slow cooks, it steams, it does it all. If we own it, we won’t need to invest in other kitchen appliances that will crowd our counters.
Pots and pans
We figured it was probably time to replace the pots and pans we’d had since college. We registered for a line that would replace almost all of our pots and pans. Included: a steamer, a saucepan that sits under the steamer, big stainless steel frying pan with lid, little stainless steel frying pan, a teeny tiny saucepan and a 3-quart simmering saucepan.
Our kettle leaks, and needs to be replaced. Either electric or stovetop would work perfectly to heat water quickly. Plus, the kettles we chose are so hip that our kitchen would look like Portland’s smallest coffee shop.
Fancy wine glasses
Sure, we have wine glasses. But not a full set of Riedel glassware, with different shaped glasses for different types of wine. These are lovely, match and don’t have names of wineries printed on them.
Sheets, bedding, and towels
Nothing quite beats the luxury of crawling into brand new sheets. We ended up asking for replacement sheets for our bed, a mattress protector to keep the sheet on the fancy mattress, new bedding for the guest room and new bedding for our room. Your wedding registry is the place to ask for those high thread-count, Egyptain-cotton sheets you’ve always wanted but didn’t want to splurge on.
I don’t think I’ve ever purchased towels in my life. My mom was constantly updating her towel collection, and I’d end up with very nice hand-me-downs. It’s probably time to have my own bath towels. And a few fun beach towels for summer at the pool.
Flatware and plates
I have nothing against buying things second hand. Nothing! Nor do I think there’s anything wrong with hand-me downs. But I do feel like I’ll level up in adulthood by having a full set of gorgeous flatware I picked out myself.
The same goes for plates. Not china, because we’re too clumsy to have china, but dinnerware. Nicer than we have, and elevated everyday dining. Also, square. Square big plates. Square salad plates. And yes, even square bowls. Or maybe these bowls.
2. Things we’d love to own (but don’t need)
You know what I mean. That silly, fancy kitchen item you know you’d only use once a month but that you can’t help but want. Guess where you can ask for it? That’s right, your wedding registry!
However, if you want to stay true to your minimalist soul, you need to give something away for every new possession you acquire.
Miscellaneous kitchen items
Cast iron skillet
I’ve heard so many dreamy tales of perfect dishes cooked in cast iron skillets. We already asked for perfectly good pots and pans. But a cast iron skillet is just on its own level.
Okay, so this Vitamix blender is something I am not sure I could ever justify buying for myself. However, it is something I believe we would use all the time. Yes, it is the world’s most expensive blender. And yes, it is amazing.
“This is the best wedding present we received,” says my father-in-law to be, every time he pulls his ice bucket out for a party. The first time, I thought he was joking, but I’m starting to become convinced that he’s serious.
“Would you like some fresh ground pepper? Tell me when.”
Those are the words I’m expecting to hear now from Brent, every time we make food that requires pepper. This pepper mill is a statement piece, and it’s artwork for the kitchen.
3. Things to save or create space
As I mentioned before, we have a bit of a space problem. Who doesn’t? Since we know we’ll be receiving even more stuff for the wedding, it only makes sense to ask for items that would also help us store the rest of the gifts we’ll be getting.
Multi-functional coffee table
This awesome coffee table has two functions: table top and storage! If you’re low on space, you want to have things that help give you some storage back.
Our problem isn’t that we don’t have enough cabinet space. It’s that our cabinets are deeper than our arm span, so we’re really inefficient with the space we have. To solve this dilemma, we’re registering for cabinet organizers, cabinet drawers and an under-sink organizer.
If you can’t create space (and there is a limit!), you want things that take up as little space as possible when they’re not being used. Take the collapsible salad spinner and colander for example. They’re usually space hogs; ours right now are too big for cabinets. But when we replace them with these, they’ll take up the same amount of space as a cookie sheet.
4. Experiences or charitable donations
It’s becoming commonplace for couples to ask for honeymoon fund donations or for guests to sponsor a date night rather than purchasing physical items. Asking for charitable donations in lieu of gifts is also becoming a trend. Knowing that an organization or cause my fiancée and I care about is being supported means more than getting that nice set of silverware we wanted.
While our registry accommodates all our guests who prefer to give physical gifts, we also added experiential and charitable gifts to the list.
Restaurant gift cards
Date night is even sweeter when you don’t have to pay for it. Ask for gift cards to your favorite places to eat. Or, if you’re feeling up for trying some new spots, let your guests give you cards to their favorite places.
You can customize your gift card registry any way you want. Ask for gift cards to only international restaurants, local hole-in-the-wall shops or brunch places. Either way, the end result in the same: free food and a great date.
Museum memberships are a perfect way to shake up date night. Being able to attend a museum regularly can be a real treat. You never know what new and exciting exhibits they’ll get, and most memberships include access to member-only events.
The travel activity website Peek is the perfect way to discover a new adventure. If you know you want to ask for experiences but aren’t sure what, guests can purchase you an activity from their website. It’s perfect for building up an itinerary for a honeymoon, but it’s also a great way to explore the area you live in.
Have your guests donate to a charity or cause that matters to you. You can simply link the website or donation link on your registry or share it some other way, but if you want to offer various charities for guests to choose from you can create a specific charity registry. JustGive.org and The Good Beginning would both work well for this.
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- 5 ways to save on a wedding dress