Online Registry
Photo: Unsplash

Your mission: Create a well-rounded wish list—and new home—that reflects you as a couple and makes gift-giving a breeze for guests. It can be easier said than done, though. When it comes to selecting the registry items that you'll use throughout your life, it's often difficult to find the balance between the items and experiences you need, want, and love. Here, we've rounded up sage advice and surprising ideas (surfboards, anyone?) to get you started. 

FEELING INSPIRED? CREATE THE PERFECT REGISTRY TODAY 

A is for Array

Your registry is about getting a wide variety of what you want—and need. That said, keep your friends' and families' wallets in mind when adding to it. Aim for a range of price points, with some items under $50, others under $100, and so on. Include a few big-ticket items for those who like to shop in groups.

Tip: People may want to send presents right away, so start on your wish list as soon as you announce your engagement. Set up, at minimum, two registries, one of which should be at a nationwide brick-and-mortar store.

Bloomingdale's wedding registry - Monogram White Bathroom Towels
Photo: Bloomingdale's

B is for Bath Towels

The shortcut to a spa-like experience every day? Plush, soft towels. Egyptian cotton is the most absorbent and holds up best to repeated washings, with pima a close (and more affordable) second.

Tip: Load up your linen closet with four sets of towels (each with
a washcloth, hand and bath towels, and bath sheet) for every full-size bathroom. That way, you won't be caught shorthanded between laundry days.

C is for China

Lightweight yet super-durable, porcelain china makes busting out the fancy stuff every morning, noon, and night a no-brainer. Register for eight to 12 settings—families tend to grow, and plates (oops!) do break now and then.

D is for Don'ts

Avoid these missteps and you'll come off as gracious, not greedy. Don't put your registry info on your invites (list it on your wedding website or spread the news via word of mouth). Don't ask for cash. While it's totally fine to register for a honeymoon or hobby (did someone say SCUBA gear?), requesting moolah is a no-no. Don't leave your registry unattended. Check it often and add items as others get purchased, so that guests don't feel frustrated.

Tip: Ask for twice as many gifts as invited guests, so friends and family have options. You can snap up unbought items via the store's completion program (typically a 10 percent discount for a year after the big day).

Classic Wedding Registry Featured Image
Photo: Gabriel Garcia Marengo

E is for Entertaining

Even if you don't host dinner parties on the regular, a few key items, like a large platter, oversize bowl, and covered dish, will have you serving up style when you do. Plus, your turn to host Thanksgiving (or out-of-town in-laws) may come along sooner than you think!

F is for Flatware

Silver is great for those special occasions, but dishwasher-safe stainless steel, which doesn't require polishing, is for every day. Sign up for as many sets as you do place settings, as well as a few extras, and look for those with a grade of 18/8 or 18/10 (the numbers refer to the percentage of rust-resistant chromium and nickel, which adds luster).

G is for Glassware

Water and juice glasses, tumblers, and red and white wineglasses will cover your daily needs; you'll want at least as many of these as you have flatware and china settings. Round out your registry with whatever drinkware floats your boat, whether that's pilsner glasses for his pints or crystal coupes for your cocktails.

Belize honeymoon ideas at the Blue Hole
Photo: Stock

H is for Honeymoon

We get it—not everyone needs a new blender. If a trip of a lifetime is what you're after, we like HoneyFund.com for its insanely low fees and Zola.com for its comprehensive approach that lets you add both travel-specific gifts and traditional home goods. At either, you can request activities to enhance your trip, too, like golf lessons, city tours, or a couple's massage.

I is for Ice Bucket

It's a staple of every well-stocked bar, and a swanky, yet not stuffy, signifier that this is where the grown-ups gather. Sometimes fun, sometimes fancy, and always elegant, a gleaming ice bucket atop your minibar will have you channeling your inner Jane Bond.

J is for Juicer

The new school of juicers doesn't just whip up the freshest OJ (pulp optional) but can also make smoothies and purées (super-handy if baby food is in your future). Look for a model that comes with dishwasher-safe, multiuse attachments to get the most bang for your buck.

basic knives set
Photo: Cutco

K is for Knives

Go ahead: Register for them! (It's an old wives' tale not to give knives for gifts.) The truth is, quality cutlery makes cooking easier. Opt for forged blades, which are crafted one at a time from a single piece of steel, and are the sturdiest and most comfortable to grip. Complete your place settings with steak or table knives, and be sure to ask for a serrated, paring, and chef's knife, too.

L is for Luggage

Registries aren't just for outfitting your home, they can make leaving it a reality, too. Suitcases are a smart investment that can last a decade or more with proper care. Visit the store, rather than selecting a model online, to test that the wheels are large and sturdy enough to withstand the case's weight and, if you prefer soft versions, that the corners are reinforced.

Gold KitchenAid mixer for wedding registry
Photo: Bloomingdale's

M is for Mixer

Yes, they take up precious counter space, but a first-rate mixer will see you through every holiday baking extravaganza for most of your adult life. Plus, the ever-popular KitchenAid models come in the cutest colors and with a slew of attachments that make it a snap to churn out homemade pasta, ice cream, sausage, and more.

N is for Nesting Bowls

True workhorses in the kitchen, a set of stackable bowls can store your leftovers in the fridge, hold chopped and minced produce as you prep, and, in bright shades and fun patterns, cheer up your counter, too.

Weber deluxe sharcoal grill for a wedding registry idea
Photo: Crate & Barrel

O is for Outdoors

Love to garden? Can't imagine summertime without weekend barbecues? Need a new tent? Now's the time to deck out your deck with everything you can imagine to enjoy life alfresco, from gas grills to garden planters, patio furniture to fire pits, hammocks to lawn games—the sky's (literally) the limit.

P is for Pots and Pans

You can make it easy on yourself and register for a matching set. Or, you can curate a list of individual cookware based on what you need most. Our recs for every kitchen: a nonstick pan, stainless steel fry pan, covered saucepan, cast-iron skillet, and 16-quart stockpot. 

Q is for Quilts

Duvets are dreamy, but don't forget a quilt. The new crop is more avant-garde than antiquated, coming in modern patterns and bold colors. They're also lighter, which means you can throw them on solo in the summer months and layer them up come colder weather.

R is for Redecorate

As you may be starting to suspect by now, if you can imagine it, you can register for it. Decorative objects, artwork, frames, lamps, rugs, and the like are all fair game. To make over your walls, set up an art-only registry through uGallery.com. For quirky décor (and cool housewares, too), try New York's Museum of Modern Art wish-list service. And you can gather choices from all your go-to stores with a universal registry like myRegistry.com.

West Elm - Armchair
Photo: West Elm

S is for Seating

From functional kitchen and dining-room chairs to accent pieces and oversize recliners, furniture makes great group gifts, especially if your entire wedding party or crew of college pals want to go in on one present together. If you're using your list to fill your home, go room by room at BlueprintRegistry.com.

T is for Tea

Get your hands on a good one, and a tea kettle can withstand years of use. An electric model costs more but heats water faster. Or, if you prefer stove-top kettles, copper and stainless steel are known for durability, as is cast iron, as long as it's coated with rust-resistant enamel.

U is for Utensils

Dress up dinner parties with handsome serving-ware that's a cinch to care for. Besides the standard ladle, serving spoon, and oversize carving fork, also get your hands on a slotted spoon—they're just the thing for serving steamed veggies. While you're at it, pick out a zester, and you can grate lemon or cheese on top of them.

V is for Vacation

His-and-hers towels are nice. His-and-hers water skis, surfboards, or snorkels are even better (and a fun option for your friends to go in on together). REI has a great selection of bikes, paddleboards, kayaks, and more that are trip- (and registry-) ready.

Wine bottle and glass caddy from Crate and Barrel
Photo: Crate and Barrel

W is for Wine

Toast your newlywed bliss with a decanter, a top-notch corkscrew, and a stopper. As for what you'll be decanting, start or add to a collection with a vino-centric wish list. Sign up at a national retailer like BottleNotes.com, or check with your local liquor store—many have online registries.

X is for XOXO

A little overwhelmed by all the attention on you? Pay it forward; a wedding is a great opportunity to give back. Spread the love by inviting guests to donate to charities of your choice through the IDoFoundation.org or JustGive.org. Or, register for a post-nuptial "honeyteer" trip where you can help maintain America's nature trails, work on a sustainable farm in France, or rebuild homes and medical clinics worldwide.

Y is for Yard Tools

They may not be the sexiest things on your list, but get all the equipment you need now to whip your outdoor areas into shape, and your grass will be greener for years—think rakes, snow shovels, lawn mowers, and garden tools.

Z is for ZZZ...

Sweet dreams are made of cotton! The woven variety (like percale and sateen) feels crisp and cool, while jersey gives you that cozy feeling of sleeping in a soft, old T-shirt. Both are more breathable than poly blends, meaning you'll rest easy all night long.

This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.