How to Create the Best Wedding Registry

Wedding registry gift Photo Credit: Wayfair

Ready to register? We’ll help you create your ultimate wedding gift list, and our Wedding Registry Checklist will keep you on track.

Creating a wedding registry is one of the more fun—even more anticipated—parts of wedding planning. It’s basically picking out much-wanted items while knowing other people will buy them for you; pretty much a love-love scenario!

While some brides may have their wedding registry created in their minds before they’re even engaged, for others, it’s a wedding checklist task that leaves them stumped. But your wedding gifts will be long-term reminders of your wedding day and the love that surrounded it, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right.

But before we get into the details, we’ll offer one BIG piece of advice: Do it together! Unlike flowers or seating charts, creating a gift registry is one part of wedding planning that grooms tend to want to be part of. And judging by the less-traditional items we now see on gift lists, there are unique wedding registry ideas out there, just waiting to be included on wedding gift lists.

So where to begin? Read on for all the do’s (and a couple of don'ts) of creating a wedding registry, along with tips for making yours just right for you.

First, what is a wedding registry?

A wedding registry, or bridal registry, is simply a list of items curated by a couple that they’d love to receive as wedding gifts. It can be created online or in a store that offers a registry service. A Universal Wedding Registry is even better: It allows couples to combine items from any store in the world (literally) on a single list. While creating a registry will help ensure that every gift you receive is a gift you want, it also makes it easy on your guests by giving them one place to shop.

Create a Universal Wedding Registry

 

When should you create a wedding registry?

The closer you get to your wedding day, the more you’ll have to do, so it’s fine to set up your wedding registry pretty much as soon as you’re engaged. We recommend creating your registry as early as possible, definitely before sending your wedding invitations. That will let early shoppers do their thing, and let guests use your list for shower gifts too.

What should you include on a wedding registry?

The short answer is, anything you like. Your registry, like your wedding, should reflect who you are as a couple. It’s about “designing” your future life, your way, whether that’s furnishing your first home together, saving for a house down payment, helping with honeymoon costs, or acquiring new gear for your favorite shared hobby.

So while there are no real wedding registry must-haves, we do have some tips to get you started…

  • Our Wedding Registry Checklist is a great tool to help you identify everything you need for your home.
  • Make a list of what you have, what you need, and what you want to upgrade.
  • Start with the items you’d like to be sure to receive. You can always fill in “wants” later, after most of your gifts have been purchased.
  • If you’re registering for home basics, start with a retailer with a large selection. As a bonus, including a familiar “big name” store will make some of your more traditional guests feel more comfortable.
  • Gifts that show your personal style will make your registry unique, and that’s a good thing.
  • And for those guests who want to give you something memorable, a little direction from you will keep them from going off-registry to do so.
  • Be realistic. While “aspirational” can be good, if you don’t see yourselves as champagne-toast types, maybe you don’t need a $200 pair of champagne glasses—even if they do yell “wedding gift!” from across the store.
  • If you’d like to include one-of-a-kind items or support small businesses, you can easily do that with a Universal Wedding Registry.
  • And if you have a favorite local store that doesn’t have a website, visit and add gifts with our MyRegistry.com App, which lets you use your smart phone as a scanner.

What should you not put on a wedding registry?

In general, avoid gifts that are really only for one of you or that aren’t requested in the spirit of a wedding gift (think: the latest smart phone). And while registering for gifts that make sense for you, try to also think as a wedding guest and avoid gifts that are frivolous, overly expensive, or potentially awkward for the giver.

Register for the future too

It may be hard to imagine right now that someday you’ll have use for more than eight place settings of dinnerware. But as your life and your living space expand, you may wish you’d gone a little bigger with your wedding wish list. Keep in mind that your wedding gifts will be items you use for years—as well as “things” that remind you of your wedding day, each with a story behind it—and register accordingly.

How many items should you register for?

Register for more gifts than you have guests. A good guideline: If you’re inviting 100 guests, add at least 150 items to your registry. Gift givers appreciate options, so by offering them plenty to choose from, they’ll be able to find something within their style and price range, confident that it will make you happy.

How much should wedding gifts cost?

Assume that all wedding guests have a budget and offer enough options that everyone can choose something they’re comfortable with. We recommend adding plenty of items across the $25 to $200 range. That way, the lower-priced gifts work as a bridal shower registry too.

Registering for individual items in lieu of sets is another way to accommodate more guests and different budgets, and it will allow you to pick and choose the exact items you think you’ll use.

A wedding registry’s not just for material things

Is it okay to register for cash? The answer to this oft-asked question is: yes, yes it is. The etiquette has evolved, and setting up a cash registry makes it feel a bit better for everyone. And in the end, family and friends want to give you what you want, whether that’s a physical gift or money toward a larger purchase or an experience. A few suggestions:

  • Be specific about what the cash will be used for, as guests are more likely to contribute if they know where their money’s going. That might mean breaking a honeymoon fund into things like “romantic dinner” and “whale-watching excursion.”
  • If you’re all set in the housewares department, you might register for things like cooking classes and a skydiving adventure that will keep that newly-married energy going after the big day.
  • Other cash-like options include a gift card registry, which will allow you to choose a few gifts later.
  • Including a charity gift option will let your guests support a cause close to your heart.
  • And even if you really just want cash, it’s a good idea to offer some options for those guests who prefer to give a physical gift.

Take advantage of the features on MyRegistry.com

  • With a Universal Wedding Registry you can add gifts from anywhere, making your options truly unlimited.
  • Our "Add to MyRegistry.com" Button browser extension lets you add items from any online store with just a click.
  • Our MyRegistry.com App turns your smart phone into a barcode scanner, so you can easily add items to your list as you browse in stores.
  • If you already have a registry with a major retailer, you can sync it to your MyRegistry account to keep all your gifts together and enjoy the benefits of a universal registry.
  • When you sync store registries, the store perks come with them, including valuable completion discounts on any unpurchased items left on your registry.
  • A Cash Gift Fund can be included on your registry for cash gifts, experience gifts, or group gifting of larger items.

Check your registry frequently

Creating a registry isn’t a simple wedding checklist item. You’ll be doing your family, your friends—and yourself—a favor if you keep an eye on yours to catch items that are no longer available by the time your guests shop. You also may look at your registry a couple months after you create it and wonder what you were thinking with that giraffe umbrella stand. You’re allowed to change your mind!

Consider that most wedding gifts are bought within the two weeks before and after a wedding, so adjust your registry settings so you’re notified each time a gift is purchased and update as needed.

How to share your wedding registry

While it’s fine to include a link to your wedding website on your save-the-date or wedding invitation, a link directly to your registry? Not so much. Since those invites come from the couple, it suggests a gift is an expected part of attending the wedding. Instead, include your registry on your wedding website, where interested guests will find it. Don’t have a wedding website yet? You can create one here.

Including registry information on engagement party or shower invitations also works.

How long should you keep your wedding registry up?

Etiquette says guests have up to a year after a wedding to send a gift, so your registry should stay active at least that long.

And finally, thank you notes

We don’t need to tell you to keep careful track of who gifted what! That way you can send handwritten thank you notes—ideally pretty much immediately after receiving each gift. If that’s not doable, make every effort to respond within two weeks for gifts received before the wedding, and within two months for those received after. To help, MyRegistry has a convenient Thank You Note Tracker, where you can check off each note as you send it.

And speaking of thank you’s: Thank you for being here! We hope this guide will help you create the best wedding registry for you.

Planning Your Wedding?

It’s easy to create a wedding registry on MyRegistry.com and add gifts from any store in the world, from large online retailers to your favorite local shops.

Looking for Wedding Registry Gift Ideas?

Find wedding gifts and wedding registry essentials on our Wedding Registry Inspiration Boards.

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