How to create the perfect wedding registry

How to create the perfect wedding registry

As soon as you post the photo of your newly-adorned ring finger, the questions start pouring in: “Where do we send presents?” “Do you already have a toaster?” “What about a tea kettle that sings the national anthem?” Unless you have a registry list you can point your well-meaning guests to, you risk becoming the proud owner of a lifetime subscription to Parakeet Fancy magazine. Get that registry started quickly!

Register at a Variety of Stores

While the old-fashioned couple needed a registry for the purely utilitarian business of furnishing a new home, today’s newlyweds often have their own furnished households (and, indeed, more kitchen appliances than they know what to do with). If what you really need at this point in your life is a nice set of luggage or a gift certificate to the local spa, don’t be afraid to put them on your registry.

After all, the registry isn’t a list of mandatory demands. By listing your most-desired indulgences, you’re giving guests useful information–and most guests spring at the opportunity to give a gift that will be truly appreciated.

Register at a variety of stores so your friends and family have the option of giving you a gift that’s meaningful to your specific relationship. Outdoorsy friends can give you camping supplies, foodie friends can give you gourmet spices and wine, and, hey, old-fashioned folks can still give you toasters.

For that matter, it doesn’t hurt to register with at least one “real world” shop (as opposed to companies that exist only as websites) so your less tech-savvy guests can have the pleasure of shopping for you without getting duped by flashing banner ads.

Sure, lingerie can be expensive, and no one blames you for wanting to look your best on your wedding night. But if you’re asking for items of an intimate nature, keep them in a separate registry away from the official wedding website. Instead, circulate by word-of-mouth to your closest friends that there is a “naughty registry” they can opt for if they please. It just makes sense; after all, how much would you enjoy wearing that baby-blue teddy knowing it was purchased by Grandpa Al?

Ask for Items at Different Prices

For every store where you register, be sure to choose items in a wide range of prices. You don’t want to give your guests sticker shock when they scan your list and don’t see a single suggestion under $100.

Try to separate your gift registry into equal parts expensive, midrange, and inexpensive items. If you see that the inexpensive items have all been claimed early on, add a few more. Regardless of income, everyone deserves the opportunity to give you a meaningful wedding gift.

Be aware of including items that are only inexpensive because they’re currently on sale or in a clearance section. These items will probably sell out quickly, leaving your guests unable to purchase them for you. It helps to ask a store representative whether your chosen items will still be available in a few months. Also ask whether the items are available to both online and in-person shoppers.

Registry Etiquette

Remember, your wedding registry is not an opportunity to beat your guests like they’re candy-filled piñatas. A registry serves as a polite suggestion of items that would be welcomed as gifts. If guests go outside your suggestions and bring you a less-than-useful wedding present, graciously accept it as the well-meaning tribute it is. Under no circumstances is it ever okay to complain that a guest did not give the “right” present.

Similarly, your wedding registry shouldn’t be listed on the engagement announcements or wedding invitations. Guests will ask you where you are registered, at which point you can give them your list of stores. You’re much more likely to encourage a generous mood if you allow your guests to come to you.

If you’ve made a wedding website for friends and family to keep track of the proceedings, it’s perfectly acceptable to include a link to your registry–just not on the main page. Finally, never post your registry to Facebook or any public forum where it is visible to people who are not invited to the wedding.

Alternative or Non-standard Registries

The honeymoon registry is a popular choice that allows guests to give the couple something they’ll keep forever: memories of an amazing honeymoon. If you have all the bath towels you need, but are running a little short on air tickets to Thailand, set up a honeymoon registry where your guests can chip in to make it happen. Be sure to take plenty of pictures so your “honeymoon sponsors” can see how much you enjoyed their gift!

The “crowdsourced registry” goes beyond the group funding of honeymoons. You can ask for small donations toward any large-ticket items (like a new bed, entertainment system, or patio furniture) to take the pressure off of any one guest being asked to fund the whole thing.

What if you’re the couple who already has everything they need? In the case of donation registries, invite your guests to help other people. There are plenty of online organizations, such as the I Do Foundation, that make it easy to create your donation-based wedding registry from home.

If you choose this option, be sure to include a wide range of charities among your registry choices so your guests have the option of donating to a cause they also support. Skip the controversial political fundraisers and concentrate your efforts on educating children, healing illness, and other universal charities everyone can get behind.

If you don’t have a great need for tangible gifts, but you’ll need a lot of help in the coming months, one option is to create a wedding registry of volunteer services. You’ll need to take responsibility for the setup and maintenance of this registry on your own, since it doesn’t rely on outside businesses.

List all of the jobs you need help with on your wedding website (things like stuffing invitation envelopes, planting flowers for your backyard reception, or pet-sitting during the honeymoon) and see which of your invitees step forward for which tasks. It’s a lovely opportunity for your friends and family to help with the wedding at a value that can’t be measured in dollars.


Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.