9 Things Your Wedding Registry Definitely Doesn’t Need

9 Things Your Wedding Registry Definitely Doesn’t Need

You might think your wedding is time to score big, but certain items can be stricken from your list immediately.

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No one uses their clunky bread machine as much as they think they will.
No one uses their clunky bread machine as much as they think they will.
Photo: Africa Studio (Shutterstock)

My first real job was in the gifts and china section at Jacobson’s, a top-quality department store in Michigan, Ohio, and Florida that has since joined the ranks of vanished retail chains. My experience taught me all kinds of lessons about our goods and our customers, especially those who were setting up households.

I loved handing a clipboard to any couple who’d come to the store to fill out their wedding registry. You often saw looks of excitement on the faces of people who realized that they’d soon be getting dozens of silver foil boxes tied with white ribbon, our traditional wedding wrap.

But once their honeymoon was over, I’d often see those same couples trundle into the store with boxes full of gifts they’d requested from guests. The reason: the items weren’t all that practical.

Some people view their wedding registry as a one-time opportunity to ask for lavish, expensive gifts. But you’re better off listing items you will actually use, not things you’ll keep out of a sense of guilt, only to be brought out of storage when the person who gifted them is visiting your home.

Here’s a list of things to avoid if you are building a registry anytime soon.

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China with a gold rim

China with a gold rim

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Place settings from famous English, German, and French companies might look gorgeous in episodes of The Gilded Age or Downtown Abbey, but you should avoid anything that actually is gilded. Those gold rims can flake off over time, and they’re pretty much doomed if you use a dishwasher. Should you feel compelled to ask for dishes, choose a pattern with as little metallic trim as possible. That way you won’t spend the entirety of your marriage hand-washing everything after a dinner party.

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Super-thin wine glasses

Super-thin wine glasses

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At Jacobson’s department store, we sold dozens of elegant wine glasses with edges so thin that you practically bit through them when you sipped. That’s the problem: all that light-in-the-hand glassware might look spectacular, and emphasize the flavor of the vintage you’re drinking, but they break very easily. Who wants to worry about shattered glass every time they have guests over?

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Trendy small appliances

Trendy small appliances

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I’m a lifelong estate and garage shopper, which has taught me how fast appliances go out of fashion. That includes bread machines, ice cream makers, Vitamixes, Crock-Pots, and air fryers. If you are dying to own one and vow to use it regularly, then proceed. But you might consider borrowing one from a friend to test it out before you ask your loved ones to commit their money. The last thing you want to do is give over counter or cupboard space to something that gets only occasional use, especially in your modest first home.

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Fancy linens

Fancy linens

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Beautiful linens—tablecloths, napkins, monogrammed bed covers, and the like —make you feel like you’re living on Park Avenue. Some are so gorgeous they can take your breath away. But they involve upkeep, including special attention to stains, and may need regular ironing. Before you list them on a registry, ask yourself: are you willing to commit the time and effort they require, even if that just means taking them to the dry cleaners? Do you even know how to get chocolate off a 70-inch round lace cloth?

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Sterling silver flatware

Sterling silver flatware

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When I was growing up, everybody picked out a silver pattern and dutifully asked for eight or twelve of everything. Needless to say, many brides and grooms were surprised when a relative they presumed would be generous presented them with a single fork. You might not want to reveal the same tendency in any of your wedding guests. Besides, since boomers and elders are shedding their sterling at a rapid pace (as they move from big houses to condos and retirement homes), you can often pick up gently used sets of fine flatware in consignment stores for much less money than if you ask for the full-price version.

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Doodads for your dining room

Doodads for your dining room

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This category covers all the dinner party accessories that catch your eye, like candle sticks, punch bowls, trays, napkin rings, and placecards. Professionals call these “table accents.” I say, “nope.” I just cleared out my mother’s house in advance of an estate sale and she had entire shelves full of these accoutrements, some of which still had the tags and never made an appearance during my lifetime. As you figure out your lifestyle and determine how much entertaining you’ll actually do, there will be time down the road to pick these things up. Don’t begin with clutter, or you’ll never shed it.

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Decorative figurines

Decorative figurines

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Maybe you had a relative who owned Herend or Lladro or Royal Doulton figurines— those whimsical little bunnies and angels that smiled up at you, or elegant ladies crafted in bone china. Try to resist them, especially when you’re just starting out. No matter how lovely they look in the store, or how much they remind you of your grandmother, the excitement will wear off when you realize that they’re dust catchers. Besides that, you’ll need a place to display them, and they might lose out to your spouse’s other collections.

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Holiday-centric gifts

Holiday-centric gifts

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If you and your partner have been living together for a while and have your routines sorted out, you might have a good idea of how you’ll celebrate major holidays. But these can still change once you’re married. Those pretty dishes with Thanksgiving turkeys or Christmas trees might get little to no use if you decide to gather somewhere besides home. Summer picnic sets seem fun to own, but just make sure it’s realistic that you’ll actually wash all those hamper accessories when you get back from the park. Bottom line: it’s best to accessorize for a few choice seasons, and select them according to need.

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Anything that assumes you’ll start a family

Anything that assumes you’ll start a family

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In a touching episode of Sex and the City, Trey MacDougal gifts Charlotte York with an engraved silver rattle from Tiffany as they began trying to make a baby. Problem was, they were never able to conceive and wound up divorcing. Unless you’re already pregnant (or otherwise in the process of bringing children into your family), it’s best to avoid asking for things specific to parenthood. They can take up space, create an air of uncomfortable expectation, or simply go out of vogue by the time a child comes around. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to request these things on a shower registry down the road.

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