While there’s no rule to say you have to register for gifts, compiling a registry is a valuable way to give your guests an idea of your preferences and to avoid receiving more than one of the same gift. And when they can buy something they know you’ll love at the click of a button online, it’s also incredibly convenient for everyone involved!
Note: It’s an etiquette faux pas to allude to or ask for gifts, even worse to ask for particular gifts! For this reason, you should avoid referencing a registry on your wedding invitation. Instead, the bridal party or family members can direct people to it if asked, or the registry details can be included on the wedding website for people to find. However, if you would like to provide all of the information to guests yourself, then slipping a note with your registry details into the invitation envelope is not unusual.
WHEN SHOULD I REGISTER?
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The perfect time will depend on the additional parties you’re throwing, as you’ll likely want some gift ideas nailed down a month or so before your bridal shower or engagement party (though gifts aren’t expected at an engagement party, guests often like to buy one). If you’re not holding a shower, at the latest, you’ll want everything in place before the invitations go out. There’s nothing wrong with registering much earlier than this, though, if you know what you want! You can always start small and come back to add items later.
HOW DO I SET UP A REGISTRY?
DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST
Weigh up the kinds of items that will be most valuable to you, explore different registry services and price check the items you’re interested in before committing. Some of the best registries will offer flexibility about breaking down expensive items so multiple guests can contribute, they will also offer additional items to be added to the registry that are outside of their product range. Be careful to avoid your guests being required to pay excessive costs on wrapping and postage.
CONSIDER REGISTERING WITH MULTIPLE PLACES
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There’s such a wide variety of different shops and agencies out there; you don’t have to limit yourself to just one! Some registries will cover all the bases; other will be more specific. Giving your guests more choice through multiple registries can be a useful approach. Remember to strike the right balance, however; more than three may become difficult for you to maintain, and a shopper confronted with too many options may struggle to decide. If you can, choose at least one registry with a local, physical store or telephone order, in case some of your guests aren’t able to order online.
FIND OUT HOW THE PROCESS WORKS FOR EACH REGISTRY.
Some may require you to meet with a sales assistant, others you can just register and start adding to an online list. The next stage is the fun part! Browse the available items and create your wish list. Since the registry is for both of you, be sure to get your fiancé involved, whether you look at everything together or split individual categories between you. This can be an illuminating process when it comes to each other’s likes and dislikes, be prepared to make some compromises!
SEE ITEMS IN PERSON.
Image from Sims Hilditch
We all know online shopping can be risky. For homeware pieces like place settings or furniture items, you may also like to see things in person to get a full impression of the design and quality, as well as an understanding of how items that will go together complement each other.
WHAT TO ASK FOR
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The items on the list will be pretty specific to your own tastes and needs, but here are some general tips:
CATER TO A RANGE OF PRICE POINTS.
You should make sure that you have plenty of choices for guests within different price bands – some may only be able to afford one or two inexpensive pieces, others may be keen to splurge. Continually refresh the registry as you get nearer to the wedding (and even after the wedding) to ensure the range of prices are preserved for every guest.
KEEP THE LIST LONG AND KEEP IT UPDATED
It’s a good idea to register for a bit more than you think you’ll need, but remember that you can always add things as you go to maintain a good selection of gifts.
MIX IN THE TRADITIONAL.
Even if kitchen or other home-building items aren’t a priority for you, it’s a good idea to have at least some of these traditional options (for the more tradition-minded guests) alongside less common things like electronics or a honeymoon fund (see below).
PRACTICAL AND SPECIAL
Choose some practical items, and then some things that you love or think are beautiful regardless of whether you “need” them or not. Some guests like to buy practical things that you will use every day, others like to buy special gifts knowing that it is something you wouldn’t get for yourself and so it will be treasured forever.
REGISTER FOR CASH OR YOUR HONEYMOON, IF DESIRED
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If you’d like to receive cash (or money specifically for your honeymoon), this can easily be done with a registry too! The same etiquette rules apply: cash or honeymoon donations should never be specifically requested anywhere. Simply put a link to the registry on your wedding website or share the details by word of mouth. You may also receive this by way of gift cards. The better registry providers will offer this as an option. The benefit of this approach is that guests may feel more comfortable giving a gift card that will be used for something specific as opposed to cash that becomes mixed up in the general fund.
WHAT IF WE ALREADY LIVE TOGETHER?
Registering can be trickier if you’ve already established a home together. Reflect on whether there’s anything you’d like to upgrade for a better model (this is the perfect opportunity!), or anything that’s simply seen better days and is due for a replacement. Alternatively, think about the items that you’ll always need more of due to wear and tear, like bath towels or luggage. If you truly don’t need or want anything at all, a charity registry is a wonderful and generous alternative.
DON’T FORGET THE THANK YOU
Be both gracious and grateful in receiving gifts, whether it was from the registry or not. Follow up with a thoughtful and personal thank you note. Customarily you have three months from receiving the gift, so be sure to send yours promptly!