The days of being gifted a fancy gravy boat and three sets of fine china on your wedding day are (hopefully) long gone. Modern couples are taking a more minimalist approach, opting for items that will serve them in the long run without cluttering up their space. Things like wall art and knickknacks will be accumulated along the journey of marriage; it's the practical items like kitchen supplies that are the true stars of wedding registries. Here are the essential home goods you'll want to have on your gift table.
A simple set in a neutral color, like white, is the best bet for long-lasting utility. A classic style like the Organic Shaped Collection from West Elm ($3 to $44) can be used for everyday as well as special occasions and account for changing tastes as a couple goes through many stages of life together.
A set of elegant wine glasses is something a couple can keep for decades. Stick to a basic bowl shape that will work for all types of wine, such as the Camille glass from Crate & Barrel ($13). Wine glasses are inexpensive by the piece, giving wedding guests an option that fits a smaller budget.
A food processor is an invaluable tool for prepping food and making homemade meals. Cuisinart is a leading brand and its Mini Prep Plus ($50 at JCPenney) has become a home-cook favorite. This smaller version of the classic model stores easily and does most of the jobs of the larger versions.
Blenders are a traditional wedding gift because they're a kitchen staple. These days there are so many options, from inexpensive countertop blenders for smoothies and sauces to high-speed blenders that make flour from grains and ice cream from frozen fruit. Make this a splurge piece on the registry with a Vitamix ($400 for the 5200 Legacy Series model), which comes with a seven-year warranty.
A slow cooker allows you to make dishes that would normally require hours of hovering over the stove or oven with minimal effort. Crock-Pot is the original brand and still going strong with models such as the manual Crock-Pot SCV400 (starting at $20), a Cheapism top pick. The Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 33969 (starting at about $47) was named best cheap programmable slow cooker.
These inexpensive devices are becoming popular among home cooks once again. Pressure cookers turn inexpensive ingredients, like tough cuts of meat, into tender bites in a fraction of the time it would normally take. There are electric models, but most kitchen experts prefer stovetop models, such as Presto's heavy-gauge aluminum version ($35 to $50 at Bed Bath & Beyond).
The mistake that most people make is opting for sets of pots and pans rather than individual pieces. Think about which pieces you really want, and in which material (stainless steel, nonstick, etc.), then list them individually on the registry, so you don't end up with 40 pieces. Don't forget a Dutch oven!
Cloth napkins add a touch of class to any meal, and can also save money by eliminating the need for paper napkins. When choosing a set, remember that their purpose is to get dirty, so look for patterns or darker colors, such as Crate & Barrel's Spectra collection ($30 for eight), that will last through many years of stains.
The custom of giving a set of flatware to a newly married couple has stood the test of time for good reason. Upgrading mismatched and flimsy silverware to a high-quality set that can last a lifetime, such as Oneida Soar flatware from Bed Bath & Beyond ($100 for a 65-piece set), marks a fresh start.
As with other household items, this is a good time to let go of mismatched towels and upgrade to a high-quality matching set built to last. Ribbed bath towels made from Turkish cotton, a wedding registry favorite from Bed Bath & Beyond ($30), adds a refined touch to one of the most important aspects of home life.
Switching out duvets, quilts, or comforters for the season keeps them in good condition, allowing them to last for years. High-quality bedding is one of those little luxuries that really goes the distance and makes married life all that much better. Consider a light silk quilt for summer and a down or down-alternative duvet and cover for winter.
Keeping a shared home clean is essential to a happy and functional life. The Bissell CleanView With OnePass (model 9595) is Cheapism's top pick for an upright vacuum under $100. Starting at $80, this is an all-purpose vacuum that is highly rated for its ability to clean hardwood and carpeted surfaces, so it can last for years and through many different homes. The best cheap vacuum for people with pets is the Hoover Windtunnel T-Series Pet Bagged Upright UH30310 (starting at about $115).
More than ever, couples are asking for cold, hard cash they can spend as they see fit. While it may be seen as nontraditional by some, this a way to ensure you get exactly what you want from generous loved ones.