Few wedding-related tasks bring out the stress like setting up a wedding registry.
It’s an ugly combination of emotions. There are lots of decisions to be made, there’s a nagging feeling of greediness inherent in asking for gifts, and yes — for many couples there are going to be disputes about what the newly married household does and doesn’t need.
Navigating that minefield can be a delicate dance. Here are some key tips for grooms facing the creation of their wedding registries:
- Remember that wedding registries aren't mandatory
- Divide up the tasks and choices
- Go digital
- Create a wide range of prices
- Know how you're getting the word out
- Consider an online wedding registry
#1 Remember That Wedding Registries Aren’t Mandatory
It’s worth keeping in mind that you and your intended don’t have to register anywhere.
The modern wedding registry — effectively just a wishlist of gifts, often streamlined for easy purchase online — is a recent creation. For most of modern history, wedding gifts have been selected individually by the guests, based on their own knowledge of and wishes for the marrying couple.
Avoiding a registry is certainly the easiest and most stress-free way to handle wedding gifts. The answer to everyone’s questions will always be the same: “There’s no registry; please feel free to bring whatever you think is appropriate.”
Unless you have a specific reason for wanting your guests directed to a particular store or company, give some thought to the no-registry option.
#2 Divide Up The Choices
If you do go with a registry, the big concern is usually making sure that there are items for both the bride and the groom on there.
At the risk of stereotyping, a lot of the big housewares store chains (Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.) aren’t the most guy-focused businesses. If you’re registering exclusively at places like that, it’s easy for the groom to feel left out.
These days, it’s common for a couple to register at three stores. Use that number to give everyone some options. Have one conventional houseware store if you must, but consider throwing something a little more guy-friendly on as well — anything from a more artsy design studio to a home improvement store.
Then divide up the construction of the registries as well. If the groom gets a Home Depot registry, he has to make the Home Depot registry — it’s only fair.
The divide-and-conquer approach can leave everyone feeling like they got a say in the creation of the registries, and got some support in the process of making them. It’s well worth your while if you are doing conventional registries.
You can also look into non-traditional gift registries that appeal to both partners’ interests or long-term goals. Consider things like landscaping or house-related gifts (trees, decks and so forth), the beginnings of a fine wine cellar, or other projects that will benefit everyone beyond the basic housewares.
#3 Go Digital
Most major chain stores these days allow not only online registry shopping, but also online registry creation. Remove the stress of driving out to malls and shopping centers by doing it all from home!
Be sure to do a test run after the registration is complete and make sure that guests can easily access, shop at, and make purchases from the website. Go through all the steps up to the final purchase click. If there are errors or navigation challenges, fix those before sending anyone the link.
There are also whole businesses dedicated to creating digital registries for unconventional products. A “travel registry” allows guests to pay for parts of a honeymoon trip (the air tickets, one night’s lodging, a meal on the road, etc.). Couples who don’t need gifts for themselves can even set up a donations registry with their favorite charity.
Here are online wedding registries that you can choose from:
- Bed Bath and Beyond
- Crate and Barrel
- JC Penny
- Upon Our Star
- Deposit a Gift
- I Do Foundation
- Pottery Barn
- Hatch My House
- Simple Registry
- Merci Registry
- Zank You
- My Registry
- Honeymoon Wishes
#4 Create a Wide Range of Prices
On any registry, list enough goods that there are several options in every price range. You want at least two or three items for everything from minor gifts ($5-50) to conventional gifts ($50-250) on up to large investments ($250+). A handful of even more expensive items may be appropriate if you suspect there will be rich friends or relatives looking to make a lavish gift.
Keep an eye on registries as they fill up. Be ready to add an item here or there if a specific price range has filled up. Never remove a gift once it’s been listed on a publicly available registry unless you absolutely have to. However, someone may have been planning on buying it, but has not filled out the form yet.
Finally, never request or even suggest that you would like cash gifts unless you want people to judge you harshly. Cash payments toward specific things like vacations or charities have gradually become socially acceptable. Simply requesting money to do with as you please remains incredibly tacky. People do it — but you don’t want to be those people. Seriously.
#5 Know How You’re Getting The Word Out
The etiquette of wedding registries is changing, for better or for worse.
Traditionally the rule was simple: the registry was only mentioned if someone asked about it directly, and it was never listed on invitations or any other wedding document.
That’s still the most polite way to handle things. But, the trend of including registration information in the invitation is becoming more common. As more and more people create and use wedding websites, links to the registries have found their way there, as well.
Know how you plan to make your registries available before you create them. Wedding websites and word of mouth are both socially acceptable; requests on the invitations are much dodgier. (Even saying “no gifts please” is considered bad form. It implies that gifts are the default and that you’re doing people a favor by waiving the requirement.)
Want to know more about how to make the wedding ceremony itself a day to remember? Click here to discover my ultimate guide to wedding attire for men.