I’ve always known that in order to be the mysterious, Katherine Hepburn–esque woman I was born to be, I couldn’t get married.
To my great surprise and my mother’s delight, my plan was ruined when I met a long-limbed nerd when I was 23. I invited him over, we listened to records, I showed him my fossil collection, I played the accordion, and one year later we were engaged. I adore him and I’m pleased to have found such a good human to love for life, but it all took me by surprise—something Hepburn would never allow.
Since the engagement, I have developed this cutesy need to prove myself ready to be a bride and wife. Sometimes I feel like I’m not ready at all. I’m messy, I can’t pay my bills on time, I look a mess in chevron, I don’t cook, and I find floral arrangements dull. Instead of working on any of this, I have decided to focus all of my energy into one wedding-planning task: the registry.
If I can get this right, I’ll prove my worth to everyone—mostly myself and the pants-wearing ghost of Kat Hep.
A registry is not something you can just jump into like a damned fool. It takes time, planning, tears, calls to home, stress-eating, and gumption. It is a very sensitive procedure that has twists, turns, and trapdoors. And for you, reader, I’ve compiled all of my life’s work into one easy-to-use guide*.
I’m not saying that this is the guide couples will use for years to come, or that they’ll quietly whisper my name into the wind as they leap into the marriage bed. I’m saying they’ll do both. This is my legacy.
Find things you never knew you needed
This is the easiest thing to do at Target. In fact, we have all been doing it for years. For your wedding registry, just get ready to take it to the next level. For example, after learning this gigantic Connect 4 set exists, I cry every time I picture my life without it.
Have guests pay for your therapy
Marriage counseling can be expensive. Avoid this financial and emotional stressor with careful early planning. Your registry is a great time to acquire the tools needed to stay emotionally sound during any love crisis.
Include items the two of you can use together
Getting special time for just the two of you can be hard, but if you have the right material objects, those precious few moments can seem longer. It’s important to have activities the two of you can participate in together. That way no one gets left out, and it creates a getaway in your own home. Case in point: this bounce house. If you’re not using your kitchen very often, consider installing an inflatable jungle castle. They’re a little pricy, though, so you’re gonna want to guilt your family into buying it for you.
Make it personal
You want your registry to reflect who you are as a couple. No two registries should look the same; it’s tacky. If a guest can’t look at a registry and learn something deeply personal about you, then is it even a registry?
Pick timeless options
The last thing you want to do is outdate yourself in two years flat. Instead, pick timelessly stylish items you can use for years to come. If you can’t imagine yourself gifting the item to your grandchild on her 13th birthday, don’t choose it.
Include items for travel
People always seem to forget that a marriage goes beyond their home. Be sure to request items for when you leave your love nest, and ones that will help get you back quickly and safely.
Get everything you’ll need for entertaining
There is nothing more embarrassing than being a mediocre host. Sit down and think of every party you might ever throw, then make a list of what would be needed at those parties. Leave no party behind on your registry. If you never use it, you can just donate it to Goodwill in a couple years.
Be realistic about what you’ll actually use
Just because the items are free to you doesn’t mean this is a time to be unrealistic. However, a well-thought-out dream career is always practical.
Never apologize for who you are
Remember, every human is a princess.
* This particular guide uses Target as an example. It is not an endorsement, just an admission of my own laziness. Feel free to substitute another location, although I don’t know why you would.
Claire Meyer is one half of the @WeFoughtAbout Twitter. The Awkward Phase Tumblr, which she co-runs, would love it if you sent in a photo/story celebrating your most awkward years. You can submit here.
Image by Jeff Belmonte/Flickr | Remix by Max Fleishman