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This Is What Our Universal Registry Redo Would Look Like

Hindsight is 20/20

apw x zola


When Michael and I started registering for our wedding, we quickly realized that the system wasn’t set up for us. First, we were planning on moving apartments exactly ten days after our wedding. And second, it became painfully obvious that our tastes were not exactly what you’d call… big-box registry tastes. The thing is, we wanted to build a registry that reflected us. We were young, we needed stuff, and our families were going to gift us housewares whether we liked it or not. But figuring out how to do that without reinventing the wheel? Easier said than done. It seemed that the only way to have our cake plate and use it too was to set up a bunch of different registries at different stores, hoping the big-box ones had stuff we at least liked, if not loved, and banking on generous return policies for the stuff we didn’t. It was an imperfect solution, and as a result, our current home is a mix of a few things from our registry we really love, and a handful of things we feel mostly lukewarm about. (Why, oh why, didn’t this copper KitchenAid exist when I was getting married?!)

Luckily, 2016 has way more options than 2009 ever did (including, but not limited to, online registries that won’t make you tear your hair out). And one of my favorite developments is the rise of the super functional, user-friendly universal registry. The nice thing about universal registries is that not only can we build something we actually like, but we can also fill it with things our people will actually want to buy usSo today, in partnership Zola, here is what I would register for if I were a time lord and could transport my wedding planning to 2016.


Unique housewares that we actually love: When Michael and I registered, we decided that fancy china wasn’t exactly suited for our (moving apartments every other year) lifestyle. But I still wanted daily dishes that had a little… personality. Sadly, nothing we found in the big-box registry stores felt like us. So we opted for a simple white dining set and went on our merry way. But if I could do it all over again? I’d mix and match unique day-to-day plates (dishwasher safe is a must) with a few special pieces we really love (like this whole collection, hello.) And Zola lets you add items from any shop, big or small (their registry app even lets you scan items in the wild), so I could throw in some handmade pieces from indie makers as well.


Experiences for the young and broke: Michael and I got married at the mature ages of twenty-three and twenty-six. Which means that on top of being “we’re planning a wedding” broke, we were also “we’re just getting started on this journey” broke. Which meant that there was little extra income for extracurricular activities. I would have loved the option to add a few experience items to our registry (and I know a few activity-oriented aunts who would have greatly preferred to buy us surfing lessons over something like a sugar bowl). But don’t worry, Zola’s activities aren’t all high-intensity. You can add more low-key bonding experiences like a cooking class or wine tasting if that’s your style.


Home DÉcor That Feels Like Us: When it comes to home décor, Michael and I have always preferred quirky over classic. But the traditional registries we signed up for all wanted to sell us on timeless, lovely items that just didn’t suit us. This welcome mat, however, speaks a little more closely to our approach to decorating (aka fun). Because while it’s good to have some registry items that will last forever, it’s also important to have stuff that reflects who you are right now. You know, kind of like your wedding. (P.S. I should totally get the Guns N’ Roses welcome mat for real life, though, yes?)


No-Guilt Big-Ticket Items: I was really hesitant to put any bigger-ticket items on our registry. What if people thought we were being greedy? (Spoiler alert: This generally has less to do with you than with them.) But with the option to add group gifting to our registry, I wouldn’t have hesitated. That way, we could add a few big-ticket items (Zola lets you include notes about what you plan to do with these items, or why they are meaningful), and our guests could pool together if they wanted to. Because the thing is, you won’t always get everything you register for, and that’s fine. But we shouldn’t have let guilt talk us out of asking for, say, this awesome rug.


Electronics, because that’s how we live our life: Most registry must-have lists focus on the kitchen. But if that’s not where you and your partner spend most of your time, then don’t force it. As for Michael and I? We’re couch-dwellers. So I would have focused more on the places where we actually spend our time, like our living room, and on things we’d actually use in our day-to-day lives, like this turntable (or at least I would use it, if my dad would finally fork over all those ’80s hair albums he’s been promising me, ahem).


Furniture that we desperately needed: Michael and I moved apartments less than two weeks after we got married, so we steered clear of ordering many big-ticket items that we’d end up having to haul from one place to the other. But surprise: That’s the stuff we needed the most (our faded denim Craiglist couch had seen better days). With Zola, you can choose when items get shipped to you from your registry (aka you can hold onto things until after you get back from your honeymoon), so we would have taken full advantage of that feature. Because this chair deserves to be in my house.


Blue apron (or other adulting help): Like I said, Michael and I were babies when we got married. So it didn’t matter how nice our cookware was, because we, um, didn’t know how to use it. But with Zola we could have added a meal delivery service like Blue Apron (y’all know my love of adulting help from them). And holy crap, it would have made our post-wedding adjustment that much easier knowing we were covered for dinner for a few weeks. (Image by Ali Harper Photography.)


All the artwork: As I mentioned, Michael and I moved a lot after we got married. And as anyone who has done the same knows, setting up a new home can take forever. But now that we’ve established ourselves a little more, one of the easiest ways to make our house feel like a home is to quickly put the art up on the walls. Had I realized this sooner, I would have registered for way more quirky art pieces like this painting, or these weird hand hooks that are both slightly off-putting and practical (my favorite combo).


An amazing vacuum: One thing I don’t regret about our registry? Asking for an amazing vacuum. If you plan on getting a pet at any point in your married future, do yourself a favor and ask for the good stuff. It’s really a gift to your loved ones, anyway, since we’ve gone nose-blind to our dog’s… um… aroma, and I’m pretty sure they haven’t.

Are you registering for any nontraditional items? And married folk, what do you wish you had registered for?

 This post was sponsored by Zola. Zola is a new universal registry that combines form with function. With Zola, you can personalize your registry so that it actually looks and feels like you (and then add items from any retailer, so that it also represents you.) And then they’ve packed it with tons of user-friendly features from group gifting to shipping control (aka you tell your registry when you want to receive stuff), and the lowest fee in the industry for cash gifts if you choose to add a cash registry option. You can even register for activities to do with your partner after you’re married. And if you change your mind about something after you’ve registered for it? No problem. Zola makes online exchanges quick and easy. Click here for a full list of Zola’s features and get $25 in Zola credits when you create your Zola account today!*

*You will receive $25 to spend on when you set up your wedding registry on, and receive $250 in Zola gifts. Zola gifts will be defined as any physical products purchased on Cash funds or third party gifts from other websites are not considered Zola gifts. The $25 Zola credit can only be redeemed for Zola gifts and cannot be redeemed for cash, cash funds or third party gifts. Credits will be placed into the couple’s Zola account 4 weeks after a couple receives $250 in Zola gifts.

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