By Alexandra Dillard | Feature Photo by Winterlyn Photography
As the costs that come with planning a wedding add up, welcome to the reprieve that comes with making a wedding registry. Creating a wedding gift registry is one of the most fun parts of wedding planning and it costs you nothing. Now we’re talking!
Let your mind swirl with possibilities of splurge-worthy items you have always wanted but never pulled the trigger on purchasing yourself. We’re talking everything from the robin’s egg blue toaster of your dreams to a sumptuous towel warmer to turn your humble bathroom into a luxury spa.
But just like every other element of wedding planning, setting up your wedding registry comes with its fair share of etiquette. It might be your first time asking for these types of gifts and, admittedly, it can feel a bit awkward to compile a big wish list. So where do you start? From when to create a registry to what to include, let’s go over everything you need to know to create a thoughtful and well-curated wedding registry. Here are 14 things to keep in mind while setting up your wedding registry, plus a curated list of can’t-go-wrong gift options.
1. CREATE YOUR REGISTRY IN A TIMELY FASHION
As soon as you announce your engagement (or shortly after) get started on your wedding registry. If you’re planning for a long engagement, at least ensure that you have a registry shared four to seven months prior to your wedding date. The sooner you have a registry set up, the more time guests will have to browse and select gifts before the wedding. You might even line it up so guests can take advantage of seasonal deals and specials!
The most important deadline for when you should have a wedding registry complete is before any pre- wedding events (think engagement parties or wedding showers) where guests might want to bring a gift. People are going to want to bring you gifts, so you might as well make sure they are gifts you want.
2. REGISTER AT TWO TO THREE RETAILERS
When it comes to the number of places to register, keep things simple.
You won’t want to have guests sifting through a dozen different retailers to find the perfect gift! To get the right variety and optimal convenience for your guests, two to three retailers or online platforms is a sweet spot.
3. TAILOR INDIVIDUAL REGISTRIES
Since you’ll be registering at more than one spot, try not to repeat items from one registry to another. This risks receiving the same (or similar) item twice, and then you’ll have to go to the trouble of returning one and selecting another item with your store credit. We do recommend registering at multiple places, but be aware of what you’re including on each. It doesn’t hurt to do a cross-check!
4. MAKE SURE GUESTS CAN EASILY FIND YOUR REGISTRIES
What good is a carefully curated registry when guests can’t find it? While this might seem obvious, it’s still important to note. You’re juggling a lot of moving parts right now and this is one that can easily be forgotten!
For ease of findability, include a link to your registry on your wedding website. If you opt not to have a wedding website, include a written URL on your physical invitation. Many websites will be able to provide shortened URLs to keep your invitation from looking too wordy. Alternatively, use a service like Bitly, TinyUrl, or Rebrandly to create a shortened URL.
5. DON’T NOT REGISTER
“But what if I don’t want anything?” We get it! You might be downsizing while preparing for a move, embarking on a minimalistic lifestyle or just plain feel like you have everything you need already. Whatever the reason, it is perfectly acceptable to not want to create a traditional registry. But that doesn’t mean you should forgo a registry altogether. People will want to give you gifts, don’t leave them guessing!
Instead, you can kindly request monetary contributions towards specific goals (like a honeymoon or a down payment) or to a charitable cause dear to you. Alternatively, you can register for a number of experiences, like a romantic dinner or concert tickets. Rather than simply requesting cash, be transparent and clear about how the funds will be used. To be even more tactful, include a preface on your registry or wedding website that explains your preference for non-tangible gifts.
No matter what the registry is for, having one at all allows your loved ones to pick out a gift you’ll actually want — which is what everyone involved wants!
6. OFFER A RANGE OF PRICE POINTS
When curating your wedding registry, include a variety of price ranges to accommodate all guests. It is easy to get carried away and load up your registry with luxury goodies, but be sure to include a range of prices to ensure no guest feels ostracized or pressured to spend outside their means. A good rule of thumb is to include items that range from affordable to moderately priced, as well as a few special higher-end items. This is one of the few times where you’ll be able (and expected!) to ask for specific gifts and you don’t want to go too far. People love giving gifts to honor important events and you want to contribute to a positive gifting experience for everyone.
7. INCLUDE WHATEVER YOU WANT!
It’s helpful to register at retailers that offer a wide range of items, from homewares to electronics to sporting goods. However, don’t be afraid to tailor your registry spots to retailers that match your personality. Wedding registries don’t have to be a one-size-fits-all ordeal. Love supporting small businesses? Register on Etsy. Are you and your partner always embarking on a new adventure? REI’s registry could be a good fit. Have fun and register for what fits your lifestyle best!
While nowadays many registries can be completed online, don’t overlook the fun of compiling your wedding registry in person. Make a fun date out of it and head to a retailer. Armed with a barcode scanner, weld the power to make all your gifting dreams come true.
8. THINK ABOUT LONGEVITY AND THE MEMORIES
People love giving gifts that they know you’ll cherish for a long time. So be sure to consider longevity when adding to your registry. One of the most special parts of gift giving and receiving is the tie you’ll have between the gifter. Anytime you prepare some hot tea with the electric kettle, you’ll think of your dear college roommate who gifted it to you. By asking for long-lasting gifts, you’re giving yourself the present of sweet memories with loved ones.
9. ALLOW GUESTS TO BE SENTIMENTAL
Oftentimes, your guests will want their gift to pay special tribute to your big day. This means a personalized gift with your name, initials or wedding date. Be sure to include a few customizable options on your registry so that your sentimental friends and family have that option. And more importantly, the options you provide will be something you actually want! There’s a certain guilt that comes with receiving a heartfelt personalized gift that you frankly just don’t see yourself using or displaying. Examples of customizable items include coasters, linens, drinkware, picture frames, return address stamps and luggage. So many things can be embroidered or etched!
10. …BUT DON’T INCLUDE EVERYTHING
While it’s essential to create a well-rounded registry, there are a few things that etiquette suggests you avoid. For starters, steer clear from adding too many pricey or extravagant items. It’s ok to have some, but too many will come off as too covetous. Additionally, avoid items that are too personal, like clothing, jewelry, intimates or anything that’s geared towards one individual rather than your life together as a couple.
11. DOUBLE YOUR GUESTS
When it comes to how many items should be in your registry, a good rule of thumb is to double your guest list. For example, if you’re inviting 100 people, your registry should include around 200 gifting options. This range allows for guests to have plenty of options, while also not risking everything being already fulfilled for the last-minute shoppers.
12. DON’T WASTE THE GIFTING OPPORTUNITY
If there are “typical” wedding registry items that you don’t really need, don’t feel you have to include them. Yes, you’ll be registering for quite a number of items, but choose wisely. You don’t need to add everything just for the sake of it. For example, if you’re satisfied with your current towel set, no need to register for more.
13. UPDATE FREQUENTLY
With how quickly retailers go through their inventory, items will sell out or otherwise become unavailable. To make sure your guests aren’t opening up a registry of mostly unavailable items, be sure to check in on your registries at least once a month to ensure they are up to date. Typically, retailers will have a replacement item that can be an easy switch.
14. DON’T PUT OFF THE THANK YOU NOTES
When we talk about registries, we have to bring up thank-you notes, don’t we? While the traditional gift table at receptions is still widely loved, many people now opt to send their gifts by mail — either a month before or after the wedding day. Our pro tip here is to write each thank-you note as soon as you receive the present. Doing so will ensure a prompt reply and keep the notes sounding authentic. Writing these letters as you receive the gifts will prevent you from batching them all at once — talk about hand cramps!
Keep everything organized so no one slips through the cracks — whether that means a digital spreadsheet or a handwritten notebook documenting the gift and who it came from.