Pre-marital cohabitation is up substantially since the 2010s. It’s more common to find young adults living with a boyfriend or girlfriend than with a spouse at this point. The average length of time that couples live together before tying the knot is 3.5 years – but it typically falls within a range of two to five years for most couples. What does this tell you? That couples are building lives and homes together long before they think about marriage and create a wedding registry. I’m actually in that group, and lived with my now-husband for nearly five years before getting married. So by the time we did say, “I do,” we said, “I don’t” to a lot of questions of, “Do you guys need a coffee maker as a gift? How about bath mats?” We’d had a home together for quite some time at that point and really couldn’t afford to wait for our wedding to stock up on the essentials.
Perhaps you find yourself in the same position. Meanwhile, your family is pressuring you to put the “classics” on there like monogrammed towels and fine china. And you’re thinking, “Monogrammed towels are not really us, and with the way our friends get loose at a dinner party, we wouldn’t dare break out any fine china.” A lot of the things we’re given as wedding gifts sit in cabinets and collect dust for our entire lives. My husband and I had the luxury of waiting a long time to get married and within that time, we gained a realistic view of what would make for truly valuable wedding gifts. We know what life looks like now, and what we A) probably won’t treat ourselves to B) can’t afford and C) would really enjoy having. Here are things you’ll wish you put on your wedding registry.
A down payment fund
Research has shown that more and more millennials plan on renting forever – not because they don’t want to buy a home of their own, but because, based on their income and cost of living projections, they think they will never be able to get a down payment together. Never. That’s kind of tragic, since owning a home together is the next step for a couple as far as putting down roots, creating a future, and even possibly having a family. Forget the long-stem wine glasses and hand-made placemats. On your registry, have a place where family and friends can contribute to your home down payment. It’s a wonderful way for them to be a part of your life forever. When you have your house, you can know the bricks are lined with the contributions of your loved ones.
A power drill
Move.org says that a TaskRabbit charges between $17 and $80 an hour, depending on the type of labor required. When we moved into our first apartment together, we paid a TaskRabbit to install a hanging lantern, several heavy paintings, a very hefty accent mirror, and some floating shelves. Then it hit us: we hired a TaskRabbit not because we didn’t know how to do any of that stuff, but because we didn’t have a power drill and he did. That cost us $180 for that day. Imagine the cost over a lifetime if you hire someone else to hang things up for you every time you need it! It’s silly since a really good quality and comprehensive drill set costs under $200. Put it on your registry and you won’t regret it.
A printer/scanner (and ink + toner)
Look, this list is not about cute memorabilia or heirloom items that become more decorative than practical over the years. This is about the stuff that, without it, life is a real pain in the *ss on a regular basis. And that is very true when you don’t have a printer and scanner situation at all, or you have a crappy one that’s on its last leg. There are options compatible with Amazon Alexa as well as Google Assistant, can connect wirelessly via WiFi or can hook up to a USB, and cost under $100. I’d say it’s worth it so you can stop driving to FedEx or asking to borrow a neighbor’s printer every time you have to prepare tax documents or sign a new client contract.
A professional grade toilet snake
This is the least glamorous but most useful item you’ll find on this list. It will literally save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of owning a home (something you will be able to do now that people are contributing to your down payment). Every single time a toilet or sink gets clogged in your home and you call a plumber, that’s several hundred dollars out the door at minimum if all he has to do is snake a drain. And often, that’s all he has to do. There’s a blockage that needs to be pushed through to the mainline, and the plumber puts his snake in and does his thing. This will happen more times than you can count as the years go by. Meanwhile, you can get your own professional grade snake for under $300, and just learn to clear clogs yourself. The one-time purchase is what it costs to have a plumber show up, one time. It pays for itself the moment you find that you need some assistance.
Home gift cards
Some guests won’t be down with these ultra practical, not-so-glamorous things. They want to get you something “special.” They want to feel like something will sit in your home that adds to the personality and makes you think of them. And for some, they don’t want that to be a toilet snake. You get that, but you don’t yet know what you’ll need for your home over the years. Making all of those decisions right now is stressful. You’d rather spread out those purchases as the need arises. So you can ask for gift cards to places like Home Goods, Crate & Barrel, and World Market. When the time comes that you need an accent pillow or dinner plates, buy them, snap a picture, and send it to the giver of the gift card so they know what they contributed.
A home warranty service
Home warranties are those things you don’t want to buy but know that you should buy. They’re an insurance policy for your main appliances like your dishwasher, washer and dryer, refrigerator, and even your air conditioning system. Depending on the size of your home and appliances, they range from $500 to $800 a year. Like with any insurance policy, any time there is an incident, you pay a co-pay (usually around $200), and the company sends a professional to fix your appliance. If they cannot fix it, they replace it at no cost to you (sort of – read the fine print). Honestly, because there can be times you financially lose by having these warranties, like if nothing goes wrong or they get you on some fine print, you likely don’t want to hand over $500 for one. Wouldn’t it be nice if a friend or family member just saved you the trouble? Then you get peace of mind, without the resentment that comes with buying the plan.
A housecleaning service
Research out of the Harvard Business School has shown that house chores cause a lot of arguments among married couples. The feelings around who does more (or less) of these chores cause resentment, contribute to odd power dynamics, and in general, contribute to negative feelings and conversations. Your friends and family can’t pay for your home to be cleaned forever, but maybe you can have a place on your registry for them to contribute to a rather hefty fund for a cleaning service. You can remove the turmoil around this topic entirely if neither you nor your partner handle the dusting and the mopping.
A lifetime supply of forever stamps
Okay, hear me out: the gift giver can customize these to make them cute and personal. This is one of those gifts that takes a lot of hassle and nuisance out of your life. Like printer ink, you never remember to reload on stamps until you need them ASAP. And remember the moment your registry goes live, you’ve given yourself the homework of sending out all of those thank you notes (that require stamps). Every year, for the rest of your lives, you’ll be sending out holiday greeting cards, birthday cards, wedding cards, baby shower cards, engagement cards, sorry for your loss cards, congratulations cards and more. You’ll send out important documents that must be sent through snail mail and not electronically. You’ll be so glad to remove the annoying task of reloading up on stamps with a gift like this.
A washer and dryer
If you don’t have these, they’ll change your life. It seems like a big ask, but again, you can create a fund on your registry where loved ones can all pitch in. Think of the time you’ll save going to the bank to get cash to obtain quarters to use at the laundry mat. And sure, there are new apps that let you preload money onto a card that you scan at the machine, but wouldn’t you like to just…do your laundry in your home instead of hanging around a laundromat all day? And who enjoys setting alarms to make sure you turn your items over in time in a building’s shared machines? If you do move into a house that already has such appliances, you can sell yours. That’s money in your pockets.
Cold, hard cash
Speaking of money in your pocket, if that’s what you need, it’s okay to simply state that. We even went over some tactful ways to do that. You don’t have to give into the pressure of those who want to buy you fancy items you’ll never use. If they say they just want to give you something you need, well, maybe money is that thing. Since loved ones like to imagine you using or enjoying their gift, you can always make creative funds on your registry for people to contribute to like “travel fund,” “entertainment” and “home decorating.” But in the end, why make loved ones waste money on gifts you’ll just return or barely use? Ask for cash if you need that most.