etiquette & advice

Wedding Gift Registry Primer

We know you’re excited about your big day. You probably went straight from saying “yes” to delving into how to make your wedding a unique and wonderful celebration: the bride’s gown, the wedding party, the reception decor, the music, the food… so many details that go into making it the once-in-a-lifetime event it deserves to be.

There’s one other aspect to your wedding that deserves your attention and careful consideration, and that’s the gifts. They’ll still be around long after the bridal bouquet has been tossed.

Wedding gifts are a time-honored tradition dating back to when most couples left their parents’ homes to form their own household and needed help furnishing it. Few couples nowadays are in that position, yet the tradition continues. It makes people happy to contribute something to your new life as a married couple, even if you’ve already got a blender and your own set of pots and pans. So why not make it easy for them, and beneficial for you, by making sure the gifts are things that you will appreciate?

A gift registry is a win-win solution. You can choose items that you will love and use. People buying gifts don’t have to guess, and won’t waste their money on something that will end up in a box under the stairs. It’s also practical for avoiding duplicate gifts.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the details of the wedding day itself that you might gloss over registering for gifts, hastily choosing a few standard items or skipping it altogether. But isn’t that kind of a shame? You may never again be showered with gifts meant for the two of you to use and cherish for years to come. We’re not saying it’s time for a greedy gift grab—receiving wedding gifts is an enormous privilege, not a right. We’re just saying that, since you will be receiving gifts anyway, you might as well make them count. It’s a happier outcome for everybody.

Getting Started
Give your gift registry the time and attention it deserves. Early on in your wedding planning, the two of you should discuss your lifestyle and your vision of your shared household. Are there any gifts that you absolutely need? What kinds of gifts would you love to have and use often? The possibilities are endless, from fine china to fine art, from gourmet cookware to camping gear.

Consider your circumstances. Are you starting from scratch, or do you already live together in a well equipped home? Maybe it’s time to replace some of the things you already own? Are you trying to pare down your belongings to fit a small living space with limited storage? Look ahead into the future. Will there be dinner parties? Large family gatherings on special occasions? A new home? Travel?

And finally, shop around–together–for inspiration, and give yourselves plenty of time to build your registry. There are things you might not have considered until you start looking. You may think your boxed set of dishes from the discount store is good enough–until you meet some fine dinnerware face-to-face and discover how good it feels in your hands. Or you might pick up a beautiful crystal highball and realize your Single Malt deserves it. These little luxuries are traditional wedding gifts for good reason, and some guests (especially older ones) feel most comfortable giving wedding gifts like these. There’s always room in include things like bed and bath linens, kitchenware and home accents to your registry, as well. Have a look at the Galleries section in the 2life Ultimate Wedding Planner app for our top registry picks. The gift registry consultants at your favorite department store should also have plenty of information and advice for you.

You might prefer contributions to bigger-ticket items, like a mattress set or large-screen TV, or even your honeymoon travel. Some online research will turn up even more ideas and possibilities, such as contributions to charitable organizations, or gift cards from your favorite stores. (On the subject of gift cards, a word to the wise: don’t register for gifts that you have no intention of keeping, just so that you can return them and get gift cards instead. There is no advantage to this; you are only deceiving your guests and causing headaches for retailers. If you would prefer a post-wedding shopping spree, be honest and register for gift cards in the first place. Just remember that you’ll miss out on the fun of opening all those gifts!)

Doing It Right
There may be “gifting” occasions in the months leading up to the wedding, like engagement parties and bridal showers, so make sure you register for plenty of options in a wide price range. (This will also accommodate guests with different budgets.) That being said, don’t overdo it, or it will start to look like a gift grab. Your wish list shouldn’t be overly long, and if you open more than one registry, don’t make it more than three.

People will want to know where you’re registered, so don’t be shy about it. Your family and wedding party members will be asked for this information, so make sure they have it. Many registries will provide notification cards that can be included with shower invitations. There are mixed opinions as to whether you should include registry information in the actual wedding invitations: traditional etiquette says definitely not; modern practice is not so cut-and-dried. Ultimately, you must consider the formality of the event, the age and attitudes of your guests, and the opinion of your family (especially those who are helping to foot the bill), and decide for yourselves. If you’re creating a wedding website, that’s a good place to present the information (in a subtle, tasteful manner, of course), and putting an insert in the invitation with the website URL is a good compromise etiquette-wise.

As the big day approaches, don’t ignore your registry. Keep it up to date, and make sure there are still options in every price range. If you receive a gift that was on your list but not purchased where you’re registered, remove it from the registry to avoid duplication.

Last but not least: promptly send a heartfelt and gracious thank-you note for every gift you receive.

Featured Partner
Zola Wedding Registry is a one-stop solution for the modern couple, and your guests will love it too! Gifts, experiences, cash funds, and anything from any store: it all fits on your Zola Registry. Sign up now to discover the smarter wedding registry.