One of the most fun wedding planning tasks is putting together your wedding registry. It’s basically a shopping spree without spending any money! But there are some helpful tips you should know before you head to the store to pick up that bar-code gun.
Registering does not need to be done right away
When you first get engaged, there’s a flurry of activity as you try to choose a date, find a venue, and book all your important vendors (planner, caterer, photographer, DJ, florist). Don’t add registering to that list. Wait until things calm down a bit.
One benchmark to follow is to have at least one wedding registry completed before you send out your save-the-dates (if you’re sending save-the-dates). You will put your wedding website on the save-the-date, and people are likely to check out your website soon after receiving notification of your wedding. If you have at least some registry information on there, it’s helpful to your guests.
But it’s certainly acceptable to send your save-the-dates before your wedding registries are complete. That page of your website can be “under construction” and people will check back later.
TL;DR here’s the video version
A note about registry etiquette
Although it’s fine to put your wedding website on your save-the-date (in fact, it’s expected), you should not put registry information directly on the save-the-date. Nor should it ever appear on a wedding invitation. The only place were registry information is proper and expected is on a wedding shower invitation.
This is because gifts are generally expected as part of a bridal shower. Whereas although it is typical for wedding guests to send a gift to the couple, it’s considered unseemly to ask for gifts, which is what’s implied by putting registry information on the invitation.
Think about what you need
Traditionally, couples getting married would be starting a household together for the first time and would have been living with their parents before marriage. So they needed all the household essentials: towels, sheets, china, silverware, glasses, cooking utensils and appliances. This is not necessarily true today when couples get married at a later age, often live on their own before marriage, and often co-habitate with their significant other before marriage.
So you and your spouse-to-be should sit down and think about what you actually need. Maybe you have all the basics covered but they’re kind of a mish-mash of stuff that’s been accumulated separately and together over the years. In that case, you might want to start fresh with all new everything.
Many couple these days do not register for fine china, knowing that they’ll never use it. Similarly, if you don’t expect to be throwing dinner parties for 10-12 people, you probably don’t need 10-12 of everything. Think about what fits your life and your living space. A couple living in a house in the suburbs of Pennsylvania can fit a lot more stuff than a couple living in a loft apartment in New York City.
And if you really don’t want any stuff, then you can start a honeymoon registry. You’ll allocate specific amounts to certain items. Say, $50 for a nice dinner out. $100 toward hotel nights. $25 for transportation needs. Then guests can contribute whatever they’d like to and you can have a lovely honeymoon without adding to the budget burden of your wedding. (Beware of hidden fees from these honeymoon registries though. Read the fine print!)
Where to register
You’ll want to create multiple registries at a mix of stores that have different price points. Two to three registries should be sufficient, but more than four would be unwieldy. The more guests you’re inviting, the more items you’ll need on your registries.
Keep in mind that people will be giving you gifts both for the wedding and at your shower, so choose items at a mix of price points as well. Go ahead and put the $350 KitchenAid stand mixer on there, but make sure you have some $10 kitchen utensils as well.
You’ll want to keep tabs on the registries as you go, to be sure you have enough items remaining for people to buy. You can always add items if things are looking sparse. Remember that some people will send gifts prior to the wedding, while others will wait until afterwards. Guests have a year after the wedding to send a gift. (You, however, do NOT have a year to write thank you notes. Those should be written and sent immediately after receiving the gift, but no later than three months after receipt.)
Some popular choices for wedding registries are Crate & Barrel, Sur la Table, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Amazon, West Elm, Anthropologie, and REI. These stores will allow you to create an online registry. Just look for the word “Registry” near the top of their websites, or use their search function if it’s not obvious. You’ll need to enter the names of both spouses, your wedding date, and an email address. If you want guests to be able to ship the gifts directly to you (trust me, you do) you’ll need to include a mailing address.
You can add items to your registry directly through the website, but it’s more fun to go to the store and look at things in person. Many stores (the housewares stores in particular) will have registry events. They’ll invite engaged couples to a special morning or evening of shopping where the general public does not have access to the store. Sometimes they have food and beverages on hand, and they make it a party. Or ask if you can schedule a private registry experience. A store employee will walk you around the store and help you choose the right items. It’s a great way to make you feel like an extra special couple!
Oh, and most places will give you a discount on anything you buy yourself, up to a year after your wedding! They call it a “completion discount” because you’re “completing” your registry. So add all the things to your registry, and if you don’t get them as gifts, you’ll at least be able to save some money on them later!
Further reading: check out this post on 7 Items You Never Knew You Needed on Your Wedding Registry