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Related Registry Tips

Wedding Registry: 26 Top Tips

Everything you should know about registering to get exactly what you want (and need).

Photo: Kirsten Strecker

1. Time It Right

It is completely acceptable to register as soon as you get engaged. This is great for guests who would like to purchase a gift for any prewedding celebration -- engagement parties, showers, brunches -- or for people who’d just like to send something as a token of their congratulations.

2. Know Thyself

Don’t be a slave to traditional registry lists. If you never cook at home but love to camp, it makes more sense to register for a tent than to request crystal goblets. But be open to the fact that your tastes may change in the future. Even though you can’t imagine the need at this moment in your life for that glass trifle bowl, it may become indispensable for future dinner party desserts.

3. Take Stock

Make a list of what both of you have and will keep -- and what you still need and want. Consider the need for “everyday” and “formal” versions of dinnerware, glassware, table linens, and serving items. Important: Discuss what level of formality you want and general color schemes or patterns before you begin.

4. Interview a Sales Rep

Speak up and ask: Is the gift-buying process hassle-free for buyers? How many locations does the store have? Can guests order by phone or fax? Does the store have a toll-free number? Better yet, will your registry be available online? Can guests purchase gifts online?

5. Look for Perks

Before choosing where to register, find out what kinds of perks you might get. For example, some retailers offer what’s called a completion program that allows you to fill in whatever you don’t receive at a discount (10 to 15 percent off for up to a year after the wedding, for example).

6. Choose More Than One Spot

One is not enough; 10 is too many. Two to four registries give guests more choices, and it’s a manageable number. To make it easy on yourself and others, pick one store for bedding, another for china, and so on. This will prevent you from signing up for the same items at different stores.

7. Seal the Deal

Once you pick your stores, you’ll need to set up an appointment to register. Some stores will assign you a registry specialist who will lead you around and help you stay on track. Some larger retailers allow couples to register by themselves with the aid of a hand-held scanner. While this removes the pressure of a salesperson looking over your shoulder, you may appreciate the expert advice from someone who's knowledgeable.

8. Do It Together

The two of you should be registering for gifts you’ll both enjoy. To decide on what you need, talk about the style of home you’d both like, and divide and conquer categories (maybe he gets to choose electronics, while she gets to choose the bedding). And don't let Mom drag you around -- in this case, she may not know best.

9. Know Your Guests

Be sure to register for items in a range of prices so that people can choose gifts within their means. Provide a mix of goods: Think traditional for older relatives, affordable and fun for college pals. It may sound a bit manipulative, but you’ve got to make your registry choices appealing -- and easy for your guests to buy.

10. Over-Register

To satisfy gift needs for showers and engagement parties, request more items than the number of people on your guest list. Having options does not look greedy: You’re actually doing guests a favor by giving them more choices.

11. Take Your Time

Couples who try to register in a rush may later regret their choices -- or miss items they need. Be sure to budget plenty of time for browsing and debating. You can always add to your list at a later time.

12. Get Plenty of Plates

It’s a good idea to request eight to twelve place settings. Dinner parties are most successful with six to eight people, but if you have a large family and plan on entertaining during holidays, you may want more.

13. Guide the Gift-Giving

A good point to keep in mind when you first register is to sign up for products you really want or need, like your china. Then as the items on your checklist start to dwindle, add more. That way you won't be stuck with a gravy boat, when instead you really need those extra salad plates.

14. Check up on Your Peers

Looking for a good point of reference? Browse registries of the newlywed couples you know. You'll be able to see what was actually purchased, and what items guests steered clear of.

15. Know Your Lingo

China is a catchall term often used to describe dinnerware and dishes. Formal, or fine, china is usually more expensive than casual china, is of a higher quality, and includes bone china and porcelain. Casual china, such as earthenware and stoneware, is often less costly and tends to be lower quality.

16. Stay in Season

If you have longer than one year before the wedding, don’t register for seasonal items that will be replaced in a few months. When guests go to purchase gifts, they may find those things have been discontinued.

17. Sign up for Storage Stuff

Don’t forget to register for places to stash your gifts. For example, you’ll want to store sterling silver and silver-plated flatware in felt rolls in a silver chest with slotted insets (or a tightly closed drawer) lined with felt linen to prevent scratching, denting, and tarnishing.

18. Think Outside the Box

Register for some unexpected but much desired items. How about something related to sports, travel, or art? Ideas: Start a honeymoon registry at a site such as HoneyLuna.com, and receive gifts from airline tickets to spa treatments.

19. Ship Smart

Ask the store if it will ship to any address you designate. That spares guests the hassle of having to go to a store to pick up your gift and then to the post office to send it.

20. Check Out and Check Up

Once you’ve finished creating your list, ask for a printout and read it over carefully to make sure there are no mistakes (did you accidentally register for 11 stand mixers instead of 1?). Get the business card of the person who helped you set up your program so that you have a point person should you have any questions or corrections later.

21. Let Your Guests Know

Unfortunately, it’s not appropriate for the bride or groom to ask for wedding gifts, so you have to be careful with how you let people know where you’re registered. Never include registry information with your wedding invitations -- word of mouth is the appropriate way to disseminate this. Your registry info can, however, be listed on your bridal shower invites since the invitation does not come from you, but from the person hosting the shower. You can also include such details on a wedding web page.

22. Keep Track

How will the store keep track of your registry? Most retailers have a system, computerized or not, that will update your registry daily -- taking from 10 minutes to 48 hours. Visit your registries often to make sure that purchased gifts have been removed and update your lists with additional items as gifts are purchased.

23. Plan for Late Shoppers

Ask the store how long your registry list will remain active after the wedding. Conventional wisdom says that guests have up to one year from your wedding day to buy a gift, so that’s at least how long your registry should remain active.

24. Weekend Update

Two Fridays before your wedding (most gifts are bought between two weeks before and two weeks after a wedding), be sure to check your registry and add additional items if necessary to make sure guests have options.

25. Cash Out

You can’t ask for specific gifts from your guests, monetary or otherwise. If guests are curious, they’ll ask someone close to you what you want and the word will spread that you prefer cash gifts. When writing thank-you notes, do let the giver know how you intend to spend the money.

26. Be Gracious

Thank-you notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of arrival. Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding day should be sent within a month of your return from the honeymoon.

-- The Knot

See More: Registering for Wedding Gifts