In your first year of marriage, you'll spend 3,000 hours in bed (not all of them sleeping, wink wink). So when putting together your wedding registry, make sure you prioritize your marital bed - and all that lays on top of it. For a lush love nest, decked out in the best comforter, pillows and sheets, follow our expert tips on how to register for bedding.
The comforter is the first thing you see (and feel) when it comes to your bed, so start there. "Fillings range from synthetics like PrimaLoft to pricier 100 percent silk, but the most investment-worthy material is long-lasting, lightweight, warm-as-you-need-it down," says BRIDES wedding style editor Kate Donovan. To find your perfect topper, consider these three factors:
1. Fill power: Ranging from 500 to 800, the fill power of a comforter describes the quality and number of insulating "clusters" of down - the fluffy balls that come from underneath the bird's feathers - and corresponds to the blanket's loft and warmth. The level you need depends on where you live, says Shannon Maher, a professor of home products development at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but unless you're based in an extremely cold environment, like northern Maine, most people can use a midlevel weight (650 to 700 fill power) year-round.
__2. Down type:__Whether you go for premium white goose down or less-expensive duck, make sure the label says "100 percent down," meaning the comforter will be warm and lightweight.
3. Shell construction: How a comforter is stitched also contributes to its loft, says Maher. The best option is a "baffle box," which divides your topper into squares to keep the filling evenly distributed, allowing for maximum air circulation and creating that neat, fluffy look you see in home-decor mags.
__See More: Everything You Need to Register For __
Pillows Are Personal
The first thing to determine is how much firmness you need. Spend nights facing up? Go for medium support to keep your head and neck in line. If you lie on your side, try firm, so your head rests above your shoulder. Belly sleepers should look for a thin pillow to avoid straining their neck.
As for filling, down and polyester are the most popular because they're soft and maintain their shape. Natural latex foam and 100 percent silk are lightweight but supportive. Allergy sufferers should look for hypoallergenic down (which has been scrubbed of any irritants), polyurethane "memory" foam, or protective pillow covers in natural fabrics. (Try National Allergy Supply or Mission: Allergy.)
Thread Count Isn't Everything
What is thread count anyway? Technically, it refers to the number of threads woven together per square inch of fabric, and higher doesn't always mean better: A 1,000-thread-count sheet is probably made with multi-ply yarn (many threads wrapped together), which isn't as smooth as a single-ply 300-count sheet. "Anything over 400 means you're paying more for something that isn't that soft," says Pat Slaven, textile engineer at Consumer Reports. Focus instead on these elements:
3. Fabric: "When it comes to everyday sheets, the gold standard is still 100 percent cotton," says Slaven. It's smooth, strong, and more moisture absorbing than any synthetic. Polyester-blend sheets are durable, and its color fades less quickly than cotton's. But anything with a high percentage of synthetic fibers won't breathe in warm weather, and even if they're marked "wrinkle-free" they will crease after a certain number of washings. (Read the fine print to find out how many.) Seasonal alternatives like winter flannel and summer linen are great too, but for year-round use, cotton's our winner.
2. Weave: The most popular are percale and sateen. "Percale is a plain weave that has a light, crisp feel, while sateen has a silky finish," says Dean Gabri, founder of the bedding company Nile Threads. This comes down to preference; give the fabrics a feel and decide what you like.
3. Fiber: Look for pima or supima cotton sheets, which are made with long- or extra-long staple fibers (a textile designation that basically ensures fabric will be soft and luxurious and that it will pill and produce lint far less than those woven with shorter fibers). The best ones will be Egyptian varieties, of which Giza 45 and Giza 86 are particularly lush, says Gabri.
Invest in Statement pieces
And last but not least? Instead of buying an expensive coordinating sheet set, mix and match a few varying designs you love to allow your personal style to shine through - and make your money count.
Subscribe now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration. Or pick up the BRIDES June/July 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here.