Of all the things in life to regret, this one is pretty minor, but it's a place where it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of needs and wants and end up with a ton of unnecessary stuff. In our case, it also set the tone for our first year or so of marriage, and meant we had to work backwards quite a bit to get to equilibrium in our little, overstuffed apartment.
When Eug and I got married, we'd both been living in large, chaotic communal households for some time. Before that, we'd both been living in our family homes or in college dorms. None of these places provided a good picture of what we would need once we were married. So I looked on the Target and Macy's websites, and just ordered everything I thought we could need: Towels, a blender, plates, etc, etc, etc. I wanted to have enough that I didn't seem stingy to Eug. The registry was just one thing on our wedding planning to-do list, but I was also after a sense of plenty. I wanted stuff we'd never buy ourselves. I didn't worry much about cost because it wasn't my money, and I figured people would just contribute whatever they could. Which is embarrassing now, but at the time it seemed normal.
As we sell and give away most of our stuff, I wish that we'd just asked for money or donations to Kiva or something.
The reality is that we didn't need most of the stuff we got, and we've spent the subsequent five years learning to let go of the stuff we thought we needed. We could have bought most things much more carefully and cheaply ourselves (though Amazon is probably the best way to get exactly what you want), in small quantities and gradually. When we were waiting for Noah, I managed to hold back my buying impulse because of what I'd learned from the wedding registry experience.
Things that we (I) thought we needed but didn't:
A waffle maker (and some other appliances).
A full set of pots and pans. We use some, but we don't need 4 different pot and pan sizes.
The Absolute Best Set of Knives Ever. Just two really good knives would have been better and cheaper.
Extra skillet (why, I'm not sure).
Two sets of utensils.
Millions of towels (someone will always give you towels, be brave and don't ask for them)
Two shower curtains (one is plenty.)
The Giant Pot.
Things that have been really useful
For us, it was hard to have a good sense of what we needed before we married. So many things could have waited, so that we could spend time building up towards our equilibrium, rather than having to try to build down.