Do Your Guests a Favor and Create a Registry
If you're wondering whether or not to register, the answer is crystal clear: Do it. Trust us, your guests want to buy you gifts. In the long run, registering saves time for you and your guests -- it gives your guests an easy way to buy wedding gifts, and it also ensures that you won't get things you don't want or need. Plus, registering saves you from having to return five of the same item.
It's a good idea to set up a registry soon after you're engaged, in time for all those pre-wedding and engagement bashes. In fact, you may want to register up to nine months before your wedding. Keep in mind that most guests buy gifts soon before the actual event, so it still makes sense to register -- even if your wedding is just two months away.
Take Inventory of What You Have
The two of you should be registering for gifts you'll both enjoy in your future life together. To decide on what you need, take inventory of the things you already have, 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).
Read the Fine Print
Before you commit to a particular registry, read the fine print carefully for important information. Will the store ship to your desired address? The best retailers will send your gifts to any address you specify. Inquire about how long the exchange/return period is. This is crucial -- you don't want to be stuck with duplicate gifts or return from your honeymoon to find out that you have only two days left to exchange and return any items you don't want.
Pick Items in a Wide Price Range
As much as you may be hankering for that gorgeous $350-a-place-setting silver, be sure to also register for items in the under-$50 range (with some well under $50) so all of your guests can choose gifts they can afford. Remember, depending on the store's return policy, you could return four $50 items to get that one $200 item you both love.
Think Beyond Just the Traditional
Traditionally, household items such as china, crystal, and flatware were staples of bridal registries. Nowadays, you can register for anything from furniture to sporting equipment to luggage. Take advantage of your many options and register only for items you'll really use.
Communicate Registry Info to Your Guests
You shouldn't assume your guests will know where you've decided to register. While you won't be informing guests yourself (unless they ask you directly), make sure your parents, best man, and maid of honor know where you are registered. Relatives will ask Mom and Dad for this info, and friends will most likely ask your attendants. You can also include your registry information on your personal wedding page on TheKnot.com.
Make Sure Your Registry Is Accessible Online
Your registry should be convenient and fun -- for both you and your guests. Make sure your registry is available online, and find out if guests can purchase online or place their orders over the phone or by fax. That way, guests can make purchases whenever, wherever, and however they'd like.
Revisit Your Registry
A good registry will automatically update your list every time a purchase is made. However, make sure to revisit your registry often and update it with additional selections as products are purchased, to give guests a range from which to choose. Check back with your registry store often to see if they have added any new items you might like. You should have more items on your list than guests at your wedding, to accommodate for engagement party and shower gifts.
Send Thank-You Notes
Be gracious -- let your guests know their gifts have arrived. Thank-you notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of their arrival. Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding day should be sent within three months of your return from the honeymoon. In all notes, be sure to mention the gift by name.