wedding gifts

The Strategic Wedding Registry

Think outside the box when it comes
to gifts

By Lessley Anderson

When you get married, people buy you gifts. It doesn’t matter if you live in a tiny apartment or you don’t believe in having stuff you don’t need or you asked for donations to a charity instead. People are going to buy you things—probably big things, like a large bowl, which seems to have become the default wedding gift.

Your best defense against unwanted items is your registry. By being mindful and strategic (and thinking beyond salespeople’s suggestions), and considering what as well as where you register, you can make your choices practical, green, and fun. We’ve included ideas for products and registries you may not have thought of.

If you use an online registry, consider Wishpot, which allows you to combine items from different sites into one wish list accessible by your friends and family. It works like this: Download the Wishpot software to add a button to your browser’s toolbar. Every time you see something you want (be it a Breville toaster from Williams-Sonoma or vintage Fiesta ware from a mom-and-pop antiques dealer), hit the button and the program pulls the product info into your registry.


Different materials work better for different things, so mix and match pots instead of buying a set. You may want a nonstick frying pan for omelets, a pretty copper chef’s pan for dinner-party-worthy risotto, and a cast iron, enamel-covered Dutch oven for chili. See below for the pros and cons of some of the better cookware materials.


Pros: Gorgeous. It heats up and cools down quickly, so if you’re making something like a sabayon, a copper pot is nice to have.

Cons: A pain to keep bright. Even if you’re not using your pots, you have to clean them so they don’t oxidize. They can’t go in the dishwasher, don’t work on induction cooktops, and don’t handle acidic food like tomato sauce well.

Bottom line: Not a must-have, unless you love the look.

Stainless Steel

Pros: Diffuses heat, so you don’t get hot spots when you’re cooking. It’s durable, easy to clean, and dishwasher safe.

Cons: It takes a long time to heat up and cool down. Food sticks to it pretty easily.

Bottom line: A great basic.

Cast Iron

Pros: Great heat retention, good for slow-cooking or frying, whether you’re using plain cast iron (like that sold by Lodge) or enameled cast iron (like that made by Le Creuset). It’s also great for searing a steak, and it can go from stovetop to oven without worry. Enameled cast iron is easy to clean: You can use soap on it, and it’s dishwasher safe.

Cons: It’s very heavy: It can be nearly impossible to pick up a pot with one hand. It takes a while to warm up and cool down. If you’re using plain cast iron, it can be hard to clean (you’re not supposed to use soap, because it ruins the seasoning).

Bottom line: A great basic, but plain cast iron requires a little care.


Pros: Nonstick material (similar to Teflon) that’s easy to use and great for frying pans. It’s lightweight and durable, and the coating won’t flake off quickly the way cheaper nonstick surfaces might.

Cons: Nonstick surfaces can emit toxic fumes if heated above a certain temperature, but unless you leave your pan on the burner for a while with nothing in it, it typically won’t get that hot. Metal tools will scratch the surface and make the pots and pans worthless. Calphalon is not dishwasher safe.

Bottom line: Good for frying pans.

Lessley Anderson is senior editor at CHOW.

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