Your wish list doesn’t have to be cookie-cutter. Curate your registry carefully now and you’ll receive gifts from it that you will adore—and, more important, use—for years to come. To get you started, we spoke with Neha Leela Ruch, a New York newlywed and brand director at online registry resource Zola, for her expert advice. Her tried-and-true tips, including starting off with a Pinterest board, selecting versatile pieces, and mixing and matching, are sure to set you on the correct course for wedding registry success.
Your registry, like your wedding, is a chance to tell your friends and family a story about the two of you and your life to come. The essentials are great, but layer on items that show your personal style or interests. Deer head? Why not?
Create a Pinterest Board
If you made a Pinterest board to inspire your wedding, why not consider making one to influence your registry, too? Just as you would envision your perfect day, have some fun imagining life together. Start when you get engaged by setting up a secret board for the two of you to dream of home, food, and adventures that you’re drawn to. By the time you get around to registering, you’ll have a more visual and personal checklist.
Think about the parts of your life you’d like to splurge on or upgrade. If it’s your home, pick the rooms where you’d like to add some love. Then, imagine things that would make that room special through the seasons—for example, wool blankets for the winter or bright throw pillows for the summer. Similarly, if you’re looking forward to doing more entertaining, remember to think about your table on warm- or cold-weather days. If you select dinner plates in clean whites or creams, you can stock up on different patterns or colors for your linens, platters, and salad plates to make your setting feel special for different times of the year.
Look for Versatility
Traditional registry items that feel old-school don’t need to be limited to two uses a year. Gorgeous champagne buckets double as vases for lush floral arrangements and cake stands can be an alternative to the standard cheese plate—and these striped wool blankets are perfect for cozying up on the couch, no matter the season.
Don’t Be Afraid to Mix and Match
For the table, bedroom, or bathroom, pick your basics in neutrals. This is a great way to make sure they will withstand the test of time and your evolving tastes. Don’t, however, feel confined to one color, set, or designer. Layer onto those basics with different shades, metals, patterns, or textures to create a more distinctive look, whether it’s with salad plates for the table, throw blankets for the bed, or hand towels for the bath.
Practical Can Be Personal
Don’t be shy about asking for cash. Guests love to feel like they are contributing in a way that is meaningful. Write a note on your cash fund about how you will be using their generous gift. For example, if it’s for a remodeling project, include an image of your dream kitchen or bathroom. Feeling connected to something tangible adds warmth to something that could otherwise feel a tad awkward.
Get Date Nights on the Calendar
Guests love to give the gift of memories. In addition to the knife sets, the deer heads, and the cash funds, consider registering for experiences you’d like to do as newlyweds. A painting night or cooking or mixology class? This commits you to carving out time for each other in year one of marriage and that’s what it’s all about.
Leave Room to Change Your Mind
It can be intimidating to imagine life next year, let alone five or ten years from now. If you can, have your registry hold all your gifts (unless you’re certain you want something) and then take an inventory of them a couple months after the wedding. It takes the pressure off to get your wish list one-hundred percent right and lets you get started, knowing you can easily swap things after you say your I do’s.
Stay on Top of Your Thank-You’s
At Zola, there is a gift tracker, which includes details on the gift, the name of the gift giver, and the gift giver’s mailing address. Keep a similar record as presents arrive. This keeps you organized, making it easy to write thoughtful notes in exchange.
Do It Together
Like listening to music or going to dinner, the registry creation process can be something you can both enjoy. Talk about what you both would like, and then browse side by side. Even if the bride or groom sets up the registry, having each other’s opinions in mind will make it more of what it is supposed to be: the beginning of your newlywed life, together.
This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.