The things we thought we'd need

A reflection on our worst wedding registry items, ten years later!


It’s Heather writing this week, though you most would figure that out in no time. Douglas and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary last fall. As I’m sure many would say, a lot has changed since we got married. More than where we live and what we do has been the greater shift in our priorities, which we see play out in our financial choices all the time. This happens to be one funny example.

Those of you who are already married will hopefully have a laugh. Those of you tying the knot this wedding season, take notes. I’m writing with the wisdom of a Monday Morning Quarterback.

During the pandemic, I treated myself to a KitchenAid stand mixer. I had never been much of a baker, but there I was in an unprecedented situation, hand-kneading dough and boiling my own bagels. Something about the yeast shortage and finally procuring my share sent me down a survivalist rabbit hole, even though the bagel place was certainly open. It was a weird time for me. A weird time for everyone.

The mixer arrived in a box the size of a window AC unit. I never imagined a kitchen tool could be so large and weigh a thousand pounds. It’s difficult to store and pull out on occasion – this thing takes up real estate on your countertop. I hoped it would be worth the sacrifice, because we had to make room for it through a massive purge of underused items.

We were used to that, though. Purges were a way of life in New York City, where your tiny galley kitchen can hold service for four and exactly three pots. After our wedding, most of our wares ended up in my mother’s basement only to resurface years later, like a time capsule.

Couples often acquire the KitchenAid stand mixer as a gift, but not us. The prospect of owning one used to feel like some sort of negative stamp against my feminism. This sounds insane now but made total sense to 28-year-old me. Despite registering for many other kitchen tools, I feared having this expensive mixer would morph me into a woman I never wanted to be: a woman who made muffins for her husband during business hours. A #tradwife, before the term became popular. Lawyers don’t make muffins, my insecure inner-monologue fought with herself. If I could hug that young woman, I would. I’d tell her what you bake has zero impact on who you are.

We all have preconceived notions, I think, early on in a marriage. And this is even with the fact that Douglas and I knew each other for a decade before getting married. I cringe looking back on mine. Certain principles felt so crucial to those people—the people we were—they’re almost too comical to believe. But there’s real value in looking back on even tiny decisions, like wedding registries, and questioning them. I think it reminds us how fluid our priorities can truly be.

So, as I purged useless tools from our home to make ready for my new stand mixer, I started thinking about the most ridiculous items I was adamant we’d need. Here’s what they were, and why we were wrong:

The Salad Spinner. How could I not start with this clunky, useless tilt-a-whirl for your produce? Lettuce needn’t be spun; that is a fact. I lost hours of my life hand-rinsing lettuce leaves, chopping them down to size, and saturating my entire countertop, all just to fit them inside and pump, pump, pump, thinking I’d release enough water. But it was never enough. Pump, pump, pump. I rejected the simplicity of bagged salads for far too long, and I’m blaming it on the presence of this time-suck of a gadget, which belongs nowhere but the 2 a.m. hour of the Home Shopping Network.

The Proprietary Cocktail Napkin Holder. In my Twenties and Thirties, I’ve hosted dozens of holidays and dinner parties. These were multi-course affairs at proper dining tables; and yet, not once have I used our proprietary Michael Aram cocktail napkin holder. The dozen original square cocktail napkins that came in the napkin holder are still in the napkin holder, and despite it living atop our bar, no one has ever taken one. It’s too beautiful, the napkins too tiny and delicate. I don’t know what this says about us and the company we keep; maybe we just prefer being able to wipe our whole faces with our napkins. I don’t know, but this gift became more an artifact than anything.

The Popsicle Maker. Do not assume you know anything about using this beast until you’ve tried it. I don’t care how many FoodTok videos you’ve watched that speed through the prep work for a three-layer acai raspberry lemon lavender avocado bar in 25 seconds. They never work, and by the way, all that work only yields you four pops. Oh, allow me to share with you this labor of love: the one ice pop that came out of the block in one piece. Who decided this was a “must have” item, and why did I believe them?

The Veggie Spiralizer. Aside from spaghetti squash, which requires no spiralizing, all veggies “gone noodle” taste bad. We are lying to ourselves to think otherwise, even though many of us eat them quite often. There’s no reason to make it worse by spiralizing the vegetables yourself. You should avoid the unnecessary labor for a meal that will always end in a subconscious level of disappointment. Prove me wrong.

The Crystal Bowl. What goes inside of a hand-wash-only bowl that’s too fancy to use? A potpourri bag from Home Goods? A pack of those flat-faced marbles? A crystal bowl is like a bookshelf’s version of a paperweight: a symbol of our desire to fill empty space with crap that looks fancy. Our parents’ little porcelain tchotchkes and commemorative wall plates were not much different. We are no better if we continue filling our built-ins with orbs and ornaments, aside those with sentimental value.

Like a helpful little cherub, I do wish I could teleport myself back onto the shoulder of that newly engaged girl I was. The girl with the registry gun at Bloomingdale’s who thought starting a life meant having a three-piece collection of decorative vases. I would tell her, you will love nice things, but you won’t be fancy. Your life will be too busy to make zoodles. You will learn how to work smarter, not harder. And when you do find the time, you’ll be making delicious memories with your two beautiful daughters: whipping cream, braiding challah, spreading cheesecake.

You’ll need a mixer.

What else do you wish you could tell your just-married selves? How have your priorities changed? LMK: [email protected].



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