A Guide to Setting Up a Wedding Registry

Few wedding-related tasks bring as much stress as setting up a wedding registry. It's an ugly combination of emotions. There are a lot of decisions to be made, there's a greediness to asking for gifts, and yes - for many couples, there will be arguments about what the newlywed family needs and what they don't.

  • Remember Wedding Registries Are Not Mandatory
A Guide to Setting Up a Wedding Registry

It's worth remembering that you and your intended couple don't have to register anywhere. The modern wedding registry - which is really just a wish list of gifts, often simplified to make it easier to purchase online - is a recent invention. For most of modern history, wedding gifts were selected individually by guests based on what they knew about the newlyweds and their desires.

Avoiding the registry is undoubtedly the easiest and most stress-free way to handle wedding gifts. The answer to everyone's question is always the same: "No registry. Please feel free to bring whatever you see fit."

  • Dividing Options

If you do go to the registry, the biggest concern is usually to make sure there are items there for the bride and groom.

At the risk of stereotyping, many large housewares chains (Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.) are not the most male-centric of businesses. If you only check in at such places, it's easy for the groom to feel left out.

These days, it's common for a couple to check in at three stores. Use that number to provide some options for everyone. Open a traditional home furnishings store if you must, but also consider wearing something more male-friendly - from a more artsy design studio to a home improvement store.

You can also look into non-traditional gift registries that appeal to both partners' interests or long-term goals. Consider landscaping or house-related gifts (trees, decks, etc.), the beginnings of a quality wine cellar, or other items that will benefit everyone beyond basic household items.

  • Goes Digital
A Guide to Setting Up a Wedding Registry

Today, most major chains allow not only online registration to shop, but also online registration to create. Do it all from home and eliminate the stress of driving to malls and shopping centers!

Be sure to do a trial run once registration is complete and make sure guests can easily access, shop and buy from the site. Complete all steps until the final click to purchase. If there are errors or navigation challenges, please address them before sending the link to anyone. There are also companies working to create digital registries for unconventional products. A "travel registry" allows guests to pay for a portion of their honeymoon (airfare, one night's lodging, meals on the road, etc.). Couples who don't need to make a gift for themselves can even set up a donation registry through their favorite charity.

  • Creates a Wide Range of Prices

List enough items on any registry to have a variety of choices in each price range. From small gifts ($5-$50) to traditional gifts ($50-$250) to large investments ($250+), you'll need at least two or three items. If you suspect there will be wealthy friends or relatives who want to make an extravagant gift, then some even more expensive items may be appropriate.

Keep a close eye on the registry as they fill up. If a specific price range is full, be prepared to add items here or there. Never remove a gift that is already listed on the open registry unless absolutely necessary. However, someone may already be planning a purchase, but has not yet filled out the form.

Finally, never ask for or even hint that you want a cash gift unless you want someone to judge you harshly. Cash payments for specific things such as holidays or charities have become increasingly socially acceptable. Simply asking for money for whatever you want is still very tacky. People do it - but you don't want to be one of those people. Seriously.

  • Knows How You Advertise
A Guide to Setting Up a Wedding Registry

Wedding registry etiquette is changing, for better or worse. Traditionally the rule was simple: the registry would only mention it if someone asked directly, and it would never be listed on the invitation or any other wedding document. This is still the most polite way to handle the situation. However, the trend of including registration information in invitations is becoming more common. As more and more people create and use wedding websites, links to registry forms are also being found.

Find out how you plan to make them available before you create a registry. Wedding websites and word-of-mouth are socially acceptable; invitations are much more tricky to request. (Even saying "no gifts, please" is considered bad form. It means the gift is the default and you're doing someone a favor by waiving the request.)