Wedding Registry Regrets, 15 Years Later

Last week, Teddy requested a trip to Ocean City, NJ for his sixth birthday. Since this week Tony and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, and the beach is one of our favorite places too, it seemed fitting to run away to the shore for a few days to celebrate both events.

FIFTEEN years! We went out to dinner ALONE and went on several walks ALONE. And enjoyed family time on the boardwalk thanks to some gorgeous fall weather.

Not everything lasts fifteen years. When I look back on some of the items on my wedding registry, I can pick out several items we no longer own, several we’ve replaced, and a few that are still going strong. With 15 years experience I thought I’d put together a quick list, #7QT style, of what to add to your wedding registry. Affiliate links abound!!!!

1. Top of the line cookware, and no, not that non-stick T-fal stuff. That’s what we got and promptly scratched it up and discarded it within the first five years. Since then we’ve invested in sturdy cast iron skillets (3 sizes), a cast iron dutch oven, and finally last year we got stainless steel, copper clad sauce pots. I know some people aren’t a fan of cast iron, but with proper seasoning, it lasts forever. We’ve had no problems. And our sauce pots are not only pretty but durable and a dream to cook with. Having proper cookware makes cooking from scratch tolerable, if not downright enjoyable.

2. Brand name knives. We have Henckels; bread, chef, utility, and paring. With those four, I can cut just about anything. We sharpen them on a steel (or, more accurately, my father in law sharpens them on our steel when he visits) and instantly, they’re good as new. We did have a block of knives we registered for, but they quickly dulled and couldn’t be recovered so we tossed them. We’ve had these four for at least ten years and all they show is a bit of wear on the handle.

3. Everything else I cut with a mandolin. Our is German-made and I got it the year or two after we were married. It is the best for chopping up onions so fine picky eaters can’t find them (usually). I also use mine to make zucchini noodles, and coleslaw. When we grew cucumbers, it was a lifesaver for making pickles, and cleaning corn cobs is super easy. Not a week goes by that I don’t use my mandolin several times. (And I still have all my finger tips, so proof that it’s not just for super careful geniuses!!)

4. The highest quality towels you can find. We’re actually still using the towels we registered for 15 years ago. And they continue to look great. I like to think we bathe, and do laundry, as frequently as most people, so I can only assume their longevity is tied to their quality. The washcloths did wear out a few years back and the hand towels are showing their age, but the bath towels are still soft, without pulls, pills or frays. We did wind up with several, so it helps to have a few that numerous family members can rotate through. When our family was smaller, I’m sure some of these towels sat for months without being used, but now, I need the surplus and sturdiness to deal with all these growing kids. I would balk at walking into a department store and paying for new towels equal in value, but thankfully, that investment was made up front.

5. Metal mixing bowls. My husband’s parents had friends who owned a restaurant and they gave us several items they knew we’d need down the road. I was surprised when I opened a box of mixing bowls and then a large roasting pan. What would I do with these things?? But both get used now with surprising frequency, especially with my daughters’ interest in baking taking off. For food prep, these bowls are indispensible and 15 years later, they’re still shiny with only the slightest patina to suggest their frequent abuse.

6. Research and register for the top performer when it comes to small appliances. I didn’t. I just registered for whatever looked nice. We are currently on our second food processor (which is broken), our second (maybe third) blender which is on its way out, and third ( or fourth?) coffee maker. And we no longer have an electric hand mixer after burning through at least two. Now when something breaks, money is tighter and I tend to just buy the cheaper item to make do, telling myself that someday we’ll save for the nicer one. But, cheap appliances don’t work very well and often can’t keep up with all the cooking from scratch I do on a regular basis for seven people. High quality appliances are also a bit too expensive for a Christmas or birthday present, so sometimes I try to ask for gift cards to cooking stores for several special occasions to help save for whatever I have in mind. If you think an item on your list might be too expensive for one guest to purchase, encourage family members to purchase gifts together, or buy gift cards for the store you’re registered. At the very least, make a mental note that this is something to put some of that gift money towards (to remind you to pass by some of those honeymoon souvenirs.)

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7. Consider heirlooms or family hand me downs first. I didn’t register for china because there was a set in my family saved for me. As Tony and I set up our home, other family members offered dishes, silverware, furniture and other items. Before you register for something, check to see if there’s something you’d like sitting somewhere gathering dust.

Also consider giving some gadgets a “trial run.” Maybe you think you’d like a bread maker or a rice cooker. It’s fairly easy to find these second-hand and it’s a good way to try out something that you may decide isn’t worth the cost (or space it could take up). Or maybe you’ll decide it’s something that’s worthwhile to have and you can invest in a better one down the road. Fill up your registry with the best quality of what you need rather than lots of cute and fun items that ultimately sit dusty on a shelf.

Bonus: Although we didn’t register for it, Tony says his power drill is the most useful things we’ve had for 15 years. If you’re getting married and don’t have a power drill, or any tools, they’re also a good investment.

Seven Quick Takes

What items did you register for that you still use? What were a waste? Share in the comments below or include your suggestions in your Takes. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!


  1. One of the best knives I have I got at IKEA. Seriously. No regrets there. I do need real pans, however. I had a bunch of non-stick crazy stuff and now it needs replaced and I need “adult” pans. So I’m going to be buying that with my Christmas gift cards. Wheeee adulting! But I love to cook so it’ll be a lot better if I have decent stuff to cook *with*.

  2. 11 years on Saturday for us! These are still original wedding gifts:
    Your 7 I completely agree with and that is what stood the test of time. Plus: KitchenAid stand mixer (work combined gift), we used our gift money to buy a bed, family hand written recipe book, …

  3. My MIL insisted we needed to have an ice bucket So we registered for one. It has sat in our storage room for the past 10 years, waiting for that moment when it will be useful.

    I registered for some home decor stuff (picture frames, candles, etc.). Now that the budget is tight, I’m glad to have those original items to refurbish and restyle.

  4. Only 7 years in but I 100% agree with everything. I would also add a deep freeze. Got one for a wedding gift and it has been a lifesaver since our family grew from 2 to 6 people in 7 years. That thing has held so many freezer meals from friends after babies! I can only imagine how great it will be in 10 or so years when I have 4 teenage boys!
    Oh, and my FIL also sharpens our knives with each visit. We are going to have to learn this skill eventually.

  5. I’m about to celebrate my 3rd anniversary, but didn’t marry until I was 38 years old. In the intervening years of hoping and praying to find my spouse, I invested in several of the things you outline above (good knives, good appliances, good pans). It was a bit challenging to register because I’d already invested in a lot of nice quality items that were holding up just fine. However, good linens and a registry at a home improvement store saved the day. We each sold our homes and bought our first home together shortly after the wedding. Smoke detectors, paints supplies, landscaping gift cards were awesome! I also come from a family of crafty women and let it be known that I’d love nothing more than meaningful hand crafted items. I treasure the quilts, embroidered pieces and crocheted items most of all!

  6. We’ve been married just over 3 years, and I totally agree! I loved our mixing bowl that was a wedding present, but even though it was good-quality, it was plastic, and just had to be retired last week because it started peeling. I went to the store and discovered the glory that is stainless steel mixing bowls and bought a set, and I’m excited because I know they will last a long time!

    I wish I would have thought about the pan issue when we made registries. All I had ever known, from my family growing up, was the non-stick sets. So, we registered for one and a generous relative bought it for us. But now that I’ve learned about cast iron, I would love to get a cast iron pan…but we don’t really have room, so I’m going to wait on it until our current pan set needs to be retired.

    Something that I really appreciated getting from our registry was gift cards! We didn’t register for many physical items and made sure to have the registry include gift cards for Walmart and Target, and we got SO MANY. This summer, 3 years after we got married, we were STILL using gift cards to pay for random expenses that came up, and it was amazing.

  7. I love our food processor. It is perfect for chopping the tomatoes for salsa. Always a must if you’re having sangria. 😉

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  9. Bed sheets were awesome gifts. It was just this year (9 years later) that we’ve had to invest in another couple of sets to replace the wearing ones.

    And we just bought a mandolin this year and I think I’m in kitchen heaven. Nearly broke our microwave making potato chips too many times…

  10. We celebrated 11 yrs in September and still use our metal mixing bowls and bath towels we received as wedding gifts.

  11. Quality costs money, I’ve learned. 20 years later the things we still have (and love): Calphalon hard-anodized cookware, Waterford crystal glasses (still but those out from time to time), Spode Christmas china, Cutco knives and my Kitchenaid Mixer (workhorse). Finally broke down and got a Cuisanart food processor and Vitamix. I expect them to make it to 40!

  12. Pretty much just the KitchenAid … it seems to be the only thing that has the staying power of our little bitty baby 7 year old marriage. Which tells me we might have registered for a lot of crap. Or moved so frequently we shed all but the gold standard.

    Happy anniversary you two!!

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  14. 1) Slow cooker/crock pot: this is a work-horse in my kitchen, especially now that I’m a working full-time single mum of two (husband left me).
    2) Registered, but ended up buying with money, Kitchen Aid professional mixer. Worth its weight in gold.
    3) Didn’t register for, but received as gifts: board games.
    Amen on the cast iron.

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