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. Here, smart advice and surprising ideas (surfboards, anyone?) to get you started.
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.
The Details: "Gold Leaf" china, $200 for a 5-piece setting, lenox.com.
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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.
The Details (from top): "Fouta" in aqua stripes, $28, and washcloth, $8, serenaandlily.com; Martha Stewart Collection in white, $20 each, macys.com; Coyuchi "Cloud Loom" in slate, $68 each, coyuchi.com.
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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.
The Details (from left): Richard Ginori 1735 "Impero Labirinto" salad plate, $90, richardginori1735usa.com; Marchesa for Lenox "Shades of Grey," $90 for a 4-piece setting, bloomingdales.com; Wedgwood "Night & Day," $90 for a 5-piece setting, wedgwood.com.
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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).
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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!
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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).
The Details: Cutipol "Goa" cutlery, $89 for a 5-piece setting, shophorne.com.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
The Details: Novis Vita juicer, $500, surlatable.com.
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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.
The Details: Table knives, $800 for 6, laguiole-imports.com.
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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.
The Details: Rimowa "Salsa Air Cabin MW" suitcase, $475, 212-758-1060.
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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.
The Details: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-qt stand mixer in lavender cream, $430, kitchenaid.com.
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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.
The Details: Kate Spade New York "All in Good Taste" bowls with lids, $50 for a set of 3, macys.com.
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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.
The Details: Bodum "Fyrkat" Picnic Charcoal Grill, $84.95, cb2.com.
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P is for Pots & 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.
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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.
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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 (momastore.org). And you can gather choices from all your go-to stores with a universal registry like myRegistry.com.
The Details: Denise Choppin February 5 acrylic painting, $575, ugallery.com.
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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.
The Details: "Bend" wire chair, $450, michelevarian.com.
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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.
The Details: Cast-iron teapot in sapphire, $25, worldmarket.com.
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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.
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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.
The Details: Renny Yater "Spoon" surfboard, $1,125, mollusksurfshop.com.
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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.
The Details: Saint-Louis "Twist 1586" wine decanter, $635, 855-240-9740.
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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 (americanhiking.org), work on a sustainable farm in France (wwoof.org), or rebuild homes and medical clinics worldwide (globalvolunteers.org).
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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.
The Details: Hand-forged steel garden tools, $40 each, canoeonline.net.
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Z is for Zzzz…
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.
The Details (from top): Martha Stewart Whim Collection "Dotty," $120 for queen, macys.com; "Douce" in Saphir, from $37.50, yvesdelorme.com; "California" in pale rose, $349 for queen, libecohomestores.com.