The 10 best wedding registry items – 12 years later, this is what I still use

My white bone china dinner plates, on my dining table above, might be my favorite wedding registry item.

Like a lot of marriage advice, if you’re looking for the best wedding registry items, take it from someone who’s been there. I registered for my wedding over a decade ago, in 2012. Twelve years later, there are a lot of things I thought I had to have that I’ve long-since thrown away, or that I’ve only used a handful of times. But there are also lots of things that I still use on a daily basis, or that still bring me joy when I use them every so often.

I will say there were surprises in both categories (the things I use and the things I don’t). Some of the things I still love were non-descript little items that I didn’t find particularly special at the time, but I now couldn’t live without. Others were supposedly “old-fashioned” for a modern registry, but turns out, I still need them.

If you’re looking for wedding registry essentials that won’t waste your guests’ money, or space in your kitchen cabinets, here’s a list of everything on my wedding registry that I still use on a regular basis more than a decade later. And, for a list of what I would not add to my registry again, skip to the bottom of the post.

The best wedding registry items, 12 years later

Here’s what I’d add again in a heartbeat.

1. Plain, white bone china

traditional dining room set for thanksgiving
The table at our current house set with our china for Thanksgiving last year.

“Don’t register for china, you won’t need it,” said pretty much everyone, except for the lady in the dinnerware department at Bloomingdale’s. Turns out, I use it every. single. day. and the entire set is still intact. Simple white china is actually one of the best dinnerware investments you can buy, because it’s incredibly durable and low-maintenance.

I’ve dinged it on my granite countertops, dropped it on the floor, and I run it through the dishwasher every day, and it still looks brand new. I may have one or two pieces with a small chip, but it’s largely in perfect shape. I also registered for cheaper, white porcelain cereal bowls from Crate & Barrel because I thought they’d be practical. I had eight, and I now have three left.

So, skip the “everyday” dinnerware, and go for plain white China instead. I say plain white because if it’s painted, you lose the ability to put it in the dishwasher. I went for Lenox Tin Can Alley, which has a simple white stripe engraving.

2. Plastic cutting boards

four plastic colorful cutting boards

This one surprised me. I randomly chose a set of plastic cutting boards from Crate & Barrel that we still own and use every single day. It came with three mats, one yellow, one green, and one white (the colors are designed to help you keep track of what type of food you cut on them to prevent cross-contamination) and I swear those things are one of the most durable and practical items in my house. They get extra points for being dishwasher safe, too. Crate & Barrel no longer sells the exact set, but you can get very similar cutting boards here.

3. A good knife set

wusthof knife set
Image via Williams Sonoma

When we registered for our wedding, getting a good knife set was the only thing my husband cared about. I was just happy he was excited about picking out something so I let him have at it. We went with Wusthof Classic Ikon knives, and again, it’s something we use every day. We got a set  that included a chef’s knife, paring knife, kitchen shears, tomato knife and a few others, and once we got it I realized how much harder I was making my life by not having a good knife set. We also got a knife sharpener that we still use every few months with the set.

4. A slow cooker

There’s a reason your mom’s slow cooker looks like a time capsule: Those things last forever. We got a basic Cuisinart slow cooker that didn’t have a ton of bells & whistles, and it still works great. In the winter, I use it about once a week.

5. A good cast-iron skillet

le creuset red cast iron skillet
Image via Williams Sonoma

Cast iron pans are a must for cooking all sorts of things, and they last forever. We opted for a Le Creuset enameled one, but you can also get a classic, much-adored Lodge cast iron pan for about $20 on Amazon.

6. A quality salt & pepper mill

We did a lot of research to find the best salt & pepper mill, and ended up with the Peugeot Paris Salt & Pepper Mills because Wirecutter said they were the best. We also got a cute acrylic set for our table, and that broke a couple years later. The Peugot grinders both still work great, and I still love the classic design.

7. Nice flatware

There’s a big difference between nice flatware, and the kind you get at HomeGoods for $30 for a set of 12 place settings. We got stainless steel flatware that *I think* was about $40 a place setting from Reed & Barton, which is pricey considering you’ll want 8-10 of them, but it still looks good as new (i.e. no rust or dings), and I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy another set.

8. Fancy serving pieces

Image via Crate & Barrel

Again, this is something that’s considered to be “outdated,” but few things bring me joy quite like breaking out my marble cheese board and matching knives, even if it’s just for the neighbors. “Fancy” items make occasions feel special, and become part of tradition, so I say they’re a must.

9. A Stand Mixer

Stand mixers are one of those items that seem like a wedding registry default, but I questioned whether or not I would actually use mine, or if I just wanted one because everyone else had one. But I can tell you, especially after having children, I pull my Kitchenaid mixer out a few times a month to make cookies, muffins, birthday cupcakes, or whipped cream. It’s a kitchen essential that still works great after 10+ years, and I’m glad I didn’t have to shell out $300 for it on my own.

10. Good, stainless steel cookware

Cuisinart Cookware from Williams-Sonoma

Stainless steel cookware is one of those things that, if you buy it right the first time, you can have it for decades, if not a lifetime. We went with stainless Cuisinart Triply pots & pans, and even though they weren’t super expensive, they have held up incredibly well over the last 10 years. We still have an use everything we got.

The things I would not add to a wedding registry again

1. Cheap glassware

I put a whole bunch of cheap wine glasses on our registry for everyday purposes. They were like the $6 versions from Crate & Barrel, and they were all broken within a few years. Instead of putting them on your registry, I’d say just buy a bunch yourself at Target and Homegoods, and get the cash, or something that will last, instead.

2. Porcelain or ceramic dinnerware

Porcelain and ceramic may be considered practical, but in my experience, they’re actually not 9see Crate & Barrel cereal bowls). It chips and breaks incredibly easy when compared to China, and I’ve also noticed it’s prone to scratches from silverware.

3. Towels & bedding

For some reason when I got married I thought I needed really nice, really expensive towels. For a few years, I loved these towels. Then, they got makeup stains, and they got a bit worn, and I threw them out. I’m not saying starting your first year of marriage with great towels is a bad idea, it’s just not ideal if you only want to register for items that will last. There’s something that makes you feel a little guilty about tossing a wedding gift from your aunt.

4. Anything trendy or specific to where you currently live

When I got married, my husband and I were living in a rented 600 square-foot apartment in Boston.  We had a queen-sized bed, an IKEA sofa and bookcase, and little else. At the time I loved the color red and chevron was all the rage. Today, not so much. If you aren’t in your forever home, and your tastes tend to be trendier or more contemporary, I’d say veer toward things that are a little more classic or timeless.

5. All the little gadgets

Again, for some reason I thought marriage meant I suddenly needed an oyster shucking knife and a milk frother. They were novel at first.  But unless you love to cook gourmet dishes and do it all the time, these kitchen gadgets (see also: citrus zester, juicer, pastry blender) will probably just take up space in your cabinets, like they do in mine.

The final thing I’ll say, is wedding registries have also gotten so much better since 2012. I had to create registries at a few separate stores to get everything I wanted in one spot. Today, I’d register at Amazon (which I used to create our baby registry) because you can pretty much find everything in one spot.

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