When I got married, I didn't get cookware as a wedding gift. Of course, since I was poor and just starting out, I bought a set at WalMart to save money.
Finally, after ten years of marriage and about four different sets of cookware, I spent some time researching and then did something I never thought I'd do. I spent almost $600 on an All-Clad Cookware Set.
However, after using it for more than a year, I've got to say that I'm so glad that I did it. I'm not a chef by any definition of the word, but even I can tell the difference between the cheap cookware that I used to buy, and the All-Clad set that I finally bought. My food cooks more evenly and I can even whip up a decent sauce all on my own now.
Besides, I don't think that I'll have to buy another set for as long as I live - at least not for a very long time. When I add up the four different sets that I bought before purchasing this set, I spent almost the same amount of money and in a few more years, I would have exceeded the total cost of the All Clad set by continuing to buy cheap. Looking back, I really wish that I had just bit the bullet and bought a good set years ago. I may have actually enjoyed cooking a lot more!
My favorite thing about the set that I currently have is that the handles aren't constantly falling off. When I used to buy cheap cookware, the handles were always coming loose. I'd literally have to keep a screwdriver in the same drawer as my pots and pans so that I could tighen handles before they fell completely off.
If you are buying a new set of cookware, I'd seriously consider All-Clad. It has a lifetime warranty against defects and while you'll spend a good amount of money up front, you won't have to spend any money on cookware for a very, very long time!