What Happens When Two Guys Realize They Do Need a Registry

How a registry event (and my mom) made us rethink our ideas of registries

Author and his partner looking at kitchenware at Crate and BarrelSean and I have been together for five apartments, two degrees, two cross-country moves, and many trips to IKEA. Or in other words, four years. Over this time, we have collected a hodge-podge of housewares. Some of our stuff is gorgeous and irreplaceable. Handmade original walnut Mid-Century Modern credenza from Craigslist? Keep forever! That embarrassing knife set from one of those big box stores with edges so dull they can’t slice tomatoes? Time to upgrade. There comes a time when you need to tell your apartment to start #adulting.

When Sean and I first met, I was working at a restaurant and finishing my undergraduate degree, and he was in his third year of teaching fifth grade. It didn’t matter that we had no money to spare; our first apartment together could be anything we wanted, and we were eager to make it feel like home. Resources were slim but we could not be happier to embark on the adventure of living together. If I have learned one thing, it’s that moving in together is more than cohabiting a physical space—it means having the opportunity to define home with your partner. It means talking about values, light, form, function, and feel. Is home a quiet retreat? Or is it the perennial gathering place? Minimal or ornate? Dark wood or light? No matter what sort of resources you find yourself with, there are infinite opportunities for creativity and resourcefulness. Every house can become a home.

Crate and Barrel kitchen items: Zuma Trays | Stainless Pitcher | Bennett Dinnerware Collection | Viv Martini Glass

 Zuma Trays | Stainless PitcherBennett Dinnerware Collection | Viv Martini Glass

May the odds be ever in your favor

When we got engaged last year we were immediately like, “Meh, we have everything we need! We’ve lived together for so long. Let’s not register for stuff. Who needs stuff? We want experiences.” But my mom, the voice of maternal wisdom, chimed in: “You know, if you don’t register for some physical things, people are just going to pick something for you. And it’s going to be something weird.”

We knew we had to revise our concept of what a registry could be. We shivered at the thought of receiving something awkward as a wedding present—like a red ruched duvet cover, or a family “heirloom” that Aunt Jennifer re-gifted because it didn’t sell at the garage sale.

Author and his partner reflected in Gerald Round Wall Mirror above HD Media Console with Towers at Crate and Barrel

Gerald Round Wall Mirror | HD Media Console with Towers

let me upgrade you

Enter Crate and Barrel.

We had long drooled over Crate and Barrel’s glossy magazine spreads, and maybe even waltzed through one, longingly smoothing the velvet of a throw pillow, or caressing a carafe a little too intimately. Okay, okay. We had to admit it to ourselves—there were definitely things in our apartment that needed upgrading. And our wedding registry was how it was going to happen.

We had the pleasure of participating in a Crate and Barrel Private Registry Event and actualize our dream of replacing those useless knives, and mismatched cutlery with things that worked and looked fabulous while doing it. Could we upgrade it? If yes, then on the registry it went.

Crate and Barrel shelves holding Le Creuset Signature Round Ovens and Le Creuset Signature Everyday Pans

Le Creuset Signature Round French Ovens | Le Creuset Signature Everyday Pans

treat yourself

There was also license to add things that we just simply wanted. One cannot just walk by the Le Creuset collection and not FEEL SOMETHING. Or at least imagine whipping up some no knead bread in one of those iconic cast iron Dutch ovens. Oh, that’s just me? Well… Anyway, we added it to the registry list.

Sean and I couldn’t help giggling with delight as we scoured the kitchenware side of the store, pointing out things that we knew we always wanted (hello, mini spiralizer and handheld citrus press) but just never got around to investing in. “How much would this change our lives?” said Sean, holding up a vegetable peeler“Oh my god so much,” I said, adding it to our list. “Better get two.”

Author and his partner testing out kitchen tools with a bowl of fruits and vegetables at Crate and Barrel

It takes a village

From copper Moscow Mule mugs, to flatware that gasp all belonged to the same set, we slowly added to our registry items that would revamp our living space. It’s not every day that your community comes together and asks to become part of your conversation about what defines your lives together and the physical space you inhabit.

We began to realize that’s what a registry helps you do—it helps you invite your guests into your unique conversation about your joint meaning of home. If you treat it as such, the registry is a guide to your sensibility as a couple, what you want represented in your home: clean lines, light, warmth, splashes of color to remind you that the smallest things can bring joy. It’s an invitation for your guests to understand your version of home.

Author and his partner kissing on bed with Jaipur Quilt & Shams next to Atwood Bed with Bookcase at Crate and Barrel

Jaipur Quilt & Shams | Atwood Bed with Bookcase

As we walked around the store, warm Sunday sunlight streamed through the windows. It was glowing, we were glowing. We smiled. Our community loves us, we love each other. Sure marriage won’t be easy, but when you pour your heart into something, it’s always worth it.

But damn, if it won’t be a little easier with those two fine vegetable peelers… and probably that Le Creuset. And don’t forget that carafe.

This post was sponsored by Crate and Barrel Wedding Registry. With Crate and Barrel, it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out, or if you’ve already built a home together, they’ve got something for every stage of your relationship. Plus, get like-price guarantee, free shipping, and exclusive pieces from Crate and Barrel’s artists and designers, when you sign up for a Crate and Barrel Wedding Registry today. Click here to learn more or sign up for a live Crate and Barrel registry event near you.


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  • jem

    This is so well put– “it’s an invitation to your guests to understand your version of home.” Bravo for making something as transactional as a registry feel so meaningful.

    Also, this is just damn good writing.

    • Kate Levy

      That was my favorite line too!

  • K8

    Oh, that kissing on the bed photo, though. That arm around you and your smile.

  • People who can peel vegetables with a knife leave me in awe – I end up with more peeling than vegetable if I try it that way. I’ve never not had a veg peeler to use. We actually have two, which look basically identical but one is the ‘good’ peeler and we will fight over it in rare “peeling two things at once” scenarios.

    • Jess

      SAME. We actually have three good ones, because I brought one into the relationship, and got two off of our registry somehow.

      Vegetable peelers: they change your life.

    • Sara

      I didn’t even know people did that. I’m astonished by the idea – I would lose skin on my fingers so fast.

    • Kaitlyn

      I was the person that peeled food with a knife and man, it’s hard. Getting a veggie peeler was the best decision I ever made haha

    • Sarah

      my husband swears a small paring knife is much easier than a peeler. I don’t understand but his fingers are still intact

    • S

      This is so funny to me because it seems like another geographical difference. In Australia the default is vegetable peelers. Everyone has them. I’ve never heard or seen anyone peeling with a knife (I mean I’ve done when there wasn’t a peeler handy, but never heard of anyone doing it just as a preference.) The idea of registering for them is so funny because by the time you’d get around to getting married here you’d probably have countless cheap peelers in various cupboards. They’re the kind of thing you just acquire when you first move out or take one from your parents’ place.They’re just cheap little plastic things with a metal peeler. You buy them in multipacks for a couple of dollars at the supermarket. Granted I’m sure there are nicer ones out there if I really went looking for them.

      • Ella

        YES there are nicer ones! I bought a proper good metal vegetable peeler about 5 years ago and it’s still going strong. If something comes in a multipack, it’s telling you “I am shit and will break soon, that’s why you need five of me.”

        • S

          But they don’t break! I don’t ever remember replacing the plastic cheap veggie peelers we had growing up, and they always lasted. We’ve had our current ones since we first moved out in 2013/2014 and they show no sign of breaking. :)

    • Rose

      We also have two peelers, but that’s because one is mine and one is hers. We both had strong feelings on the subject of proper peelers, so we got two. (hers has a larger, kinda bulbous plastic handle that curves around the back of the actual peeler bit, so that both ends are set into plastic. Mine has a metal handle and with the peeler part sticking up out of it; mine is the only one that has a sharp end that you can use to pry eyes out of potatoes or the stem out of a tomato, which makes it clearly superior).

  • penguin

    This reminds me, we have to finish our registries…

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  • rg223

    This was such an enjoyable read – and I love the quote from your mom!

  • toomanybooks

    I SEE THAT REFERENCE TO THE VELVET THROW PILLOWS, don’t think I didn’t get some of those! I actually just found them post wedding while browsing Crate and Barrel to complete a dish set on my registry (obsessed with those Toben plates) and decided I was an official Old Married Lady when I realized I was spiraling into “I can’t order the Slate color online and it’s the PERFECT COLOR for my rug and art in the living room, I’m going to go to their Chevy Chase store and see what they have in stock” and then full on walked out of that store with SIX enormous velvet pillows (I had to get two of each of the three colors I wanted to match our new color scheme!). Guys, I don’t own a car. Three of those are still at my parents’ house because my dad thought it would be ridiculous to try to take BOTH large bags on the metro.

    What I’m saying is, C&B was probably my favorite store I pulled from for my Zola registry, and I’d never even looked at them before registering for Nice Things!

    • Lexipedia

      Did you buy them for yourself? I want those pillows so much but I feel kind of silly putting pillows on a registry – are they shipped? But really, I pet them whenever I’m in the store. <3

      • Jess

        If somebody put them on their registry, I would purchase them for that person.

      • Amy March

        There is nothing silly at all about putting them on the registry.

      • toomanybooks

        I just bought them for myself after realizing they matched a rug that I received from my registry after the wedding, but 100% put sillier things than throw pillows on mine lol. They are not a silly thing to register for at all!

  • Lexipedia

    How early did people register for things? We’ve been making a list of things we need (major couple game changer was a shared grocery/other list app, even luddite fiancé admits it) but I’m not sure when we need to actually go to C&B. Our wedding is not until next spring, so definitely not yet… when did y’all register?

    • emmers

      We took about 6 months to plan our wedding, so I think we registered fairly immediately, if that helps. Our of curiosity, what list app do you use? I think that could be a game changer for us too!

      • Lexipedia

        AnyList – it’s an iOS app but I don’t know if they have it for Android. You can have private lists, shared lists, and the grocery list options that have categories for different areas of the store. You can also leave notes for each other on items on the list. For example, under cheese it currently says “last time you bought the cheddar kind, can you get mozzarella this week?” I had to pay $12 for a “family subscription” but it is totally worth it. We have a grocery list, an Amazon Prime list, a registry items list, a restaurants we want to try list, etc.

        I used to be the primary grocery shopper/list keeper and now this allows him to make trips that end up purchasing more than guac, apples, and cheese-its.

        • emmers

          That’s cool! Maybe we can also list our nightly meals there. We have a whiteboard but it gets confusing sometimes. Thanks!

          • Lexipedia

            They actually have a “meal plan” feature – I’ve just never used it.

    • Her Lindsayship

      I’m pretty sure we went to a registry event last fall and our wedding is in about three weeks. We just didn’t tell anyone about our registry until the spring, so it didn’t matter that we did it so early. It was also just something fun we could get done while other stuff seemed a lot more high pressure. If you do it early, it gives you a little more time to rethink your choices and make sure you really like it before it’s available to the guests!

      • emmers

        This is jogging my memory– I think our impetus for completing the registry is that we wanted to have it up before we sent out the invitation, since we wanted to link to our registry from our wedding website, which was listed on the invitation. So if you have a website and are doing save the dates, that might inform your timing.

        For us I remember it being kind of stressful, since we were trying to quickly solidify everything, but the more relaxed approach of Her Lindsayship sounds much better :).

      • Jane

        True – but if you do it early, I recommend you check closer to the date and make sure things are still in stock. We spent a lot of time picking out wine glasses and some other things we liked and added them from Amazon to our Zola registry only to have them disappear.

    • Katharine Parker

      We registered, I think, six months out (we are in a seven month engagement), but no one bought anything off the registry until three months before the wedding. If we had an earlier shower, I would have registered earlier. I’d say have it ready before you send out invites or before a shower (if you have one), but otherwise do it whenever you have the time and energy. It’s one of the more fun wedding tasks, in my experience, so enjoy it!

    • Jess

      We registered about 8 months out – right around when we sent save the date cards. But we kept adding to the registry until about a month and half before.

    • Lisa

      If you are having a shower, I would register a month or two before that.

    • nutbrownrose

      I was told explicitly to register before Christmas so family could use it for gift ideas…..and the only one who did was FMIL. Womp. And my dad got things we hadn’t registered for that were on my registry in a different incarnation–like sheets and towels in the wrong color and without receipts. Anyway. Point being, maybe before next Christmas, especially if your STDs go out before then.

  • Viv

    YAY! I heart Sean and Cameron so much… so so glad they were a part of this fun Crate and Barrel event. This post makes me even more excited to shoot their wedding on Saturday!

  • PeaceIsTheWay

    Oh, I love no-knead bread!

    This piece does a great job of capturing how a registry can be awesome. I really like the thought of them as insights for your guests into your vision of home.

    That said, when we were planning our wedding it helped to see a few voices now and then insist that registries really, truly are not necessary. So for anyone browsing the comments who is on the fence about creating a registry, and with all due respect to Cameron’s mom: no, you do not need a registry.

  • angela

    I know this is a sponsored post, and it sounds like the authors ended up having a great time with their decision, so I apologize if this is the wrong place for this comment BUT I would like to push back on the (I’m sure well-meaning) comments of “people will buy you things anyway, better make sure to register so you get things you like!” We didn’t register for anything, despite hearing this advice over and over again from so many different people as we planned our wedding. We had a large (250 people), fairly traditional wedding. We put a small paragraph on our website to the effect of: “We have a small apartment, we love to cook and collect hand-me-downs, and we really have everything we need. We know everyone has to travel to attend our wedding, and that’s a gift enough. If you really want to get us something, we are saving for a house.” (The wording was more eloquent than this, but you get the idea.) We also talked to our parents about it, so they could mimic our language when asked by their friends and relatives.

    With 250 guests, we got exactly five physical gifts. Two were artwork from friends of mine, one was a set of appetizer plates that I never would have picked out myself but that I do like, one was a weird horse poster that I have no idea what to do with, and the final was a picture frame. We got some gift cards, and some checks with specific instructions to use on our honeymoon or something, but for the most part people just gave us cash and/or a nice card. It worked great. My sister just got married with a similar sized wedding and a standard registry, and she got more strange, off-registry gifts than I did.

    Maybe it’s a know-your-crowd thing and maybe you’ll end up registering and loving it, but I didn’t register and I don’t regret it at all. I’m really glad I didn’t listen to the people who told me that we “had to.”

    • PeaceIsTheWay

      My husband and I were happy with our chosen approach of not mentioning gifts anywhere, at all… until after our wedding, when we realized that this was evidently code for “our preferred gift is $$”. I still have no regrets, because putting together a registry was just not something either one of us was remotely interested in pouring time or effort into. But we legitimately thought the message was that we did not expect gifts, and in retrospect that was naive of us.

      • zana

        A *tiny* registry also signifies that money is preferred.

        The only way to get (most) people to not bring a gift is to explicitly tell them!

      • angela

        Yeah – while our mothers were understanding about the registry, my mother-in-law insisted that we give people some direction for gifts, and I would say 70-80% of guests did give us money.

        (On the other hand, I was also pleasantly surprised that a good number of people also actually listened to us and didn’t give gifts – plus the nicest, most thoughtful messages in cards all came from people who didn’t give another gift, and I still go back and read those cards from time to time.)

  • charu

    I liked the way this article was written and how this couple was profiled. Yes there are a lot of options for couples who have it all – you can replace what you already have with better things or explore other options such as having your guests pool their money to buy you an original art which is meaningful, long lasting and classy. – Check out Mishkalo.com.

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