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Inspiration » Registries + Gifts » How to Overcome Wedding Registry Guilt

How to Overcome Wedding Registry Guilt

by Maureen Burke
A wedding registry gift tied with a bow next to a bouquet of wedding flowers

For some couples, building a wedding registry is a highlight of the wedding planning process. You’re able to work together to select sought-after home goods such as kitchen appliances, linens, barware, and other items that will be part of your daily life under the new title of spouse. But as you bounce around wedding registry ideas or ask for top picks from other engaged couples, it’s also possible to feel guilty or awkward. This wedding registry guilt is common, whether you’re worried about the length of your list or the number of big ticket items you need for your newlywed home. 

Put those uneasy feelings to bed and rest assured that it’s perfectly acceptable — and in many cases expected — to create a wedding registry when getting married. No one should be wracked by guilt. However, there are ways to work through the wedding registry process that can put your mind and spirit at ease.

Why Couples Don’t Need to Feel Guilty

Each couple is unique and may experience myriad emotions while wedding planning. And although you and your partner agree on tying the knot, you may have differing points of view on how to approach a wedding registry. If one or both of you are on the fence about creating a wedding registry, be sure to acknowledge those feelings. Having an open, supportive conversation with your partner can go a long way toward addressing any uneasy emotions. As you discuss the matter, here are a few important things about wedding registries to remember that may allow you to move forward with your planning. 

  • Giving gifts at weddings is common. Weddings are a cause for celebration. It’s a time when those closest to you and your future spouse want to shower you with love and support. It’s common for guests to do this by bearing witness to your vows and offering a gift as you begin your newlywed journey together.
  • Guests typically find registries helpful. Gift givers want to select something that’s wanted and meaningful to the happy couple. A wedding registry takes the guesswork out of it for your family and friends, allowing them to choose from options that you and your future spouse will actually use. Plus, you’ll avoid the awkward situation of deciding if you should return an unwanted gift or let it collect dust in storage. 
  • When in doubt, there are best practices you can follow. Yes, wedding registry etiquette is a thing. You’re not obligated to follow these guidelines (no offense to Emily Post and the like), but reviewing them may help settle some anxieties about creating your own registry. 

Solutions for Wedding Registry Guilt

Round table decorated with “Mr & Mrs” sign and filled with wedding gifts and envelopes

After you’ve determined the root of those guilty feelings — whether you’re worried that your registry items are too extravagant or that gift-giving may be out of your guests’ means — it’s time to build a list that creates good vibes and gets you excited about your newlywed life. And one of the best ways to shake off negative feelings is by approaching the situation with compromise and understanding. 

Here are some tips for managing guilt when creating your wedding registry, from gift contents and count to the type of registry you set up: 

  • Keep it modest. Traditional practice is to have about as many gifts as invited guests, but there’s no need to go overboard with the amount of items if you’re worried about how it may be perceived by guests. You’re welcome to keep your registry super curated. It may feel more comfortable to be intentional with what you include on your wedding registry, rather than choosing items you think you’re supposed to request. You can always add more gifts if your guests have purchased everything on your list in the weeks leading up to your big day. 
  • Select items across various price points. Your guests will come from all corners of your lives, which can mean there’s a wide range of financial means. Since everyone has a different budget, choose a mixture of items with low and high price tags so every guest can feel comfortable selecting an item you love off your registry. But while it’s important to include affordable options, there’s no need to write off higher-priced gifts altogether. Guests may choose to contribute as a group to gift bigger ticket items.
  • Highlight your values and interests. When you use an all-in-one registry like Joy, you can centralize your lists from go-to stores like Crate & Barrel as well as add items from more specialized shops such as Etsy and REI. This solution not only gives you the flexibility to support small businesses and brands you respect, but also allows you to showcase values that are important to you as a couple or draw attention to local vendors you love. 
  • Support a cause. Including a charitable donation option is a common feature in modern wedding registries. It’s a simple way to give back to organizations that hold a special place in your heart. Who can feel bad about raising funds for a meaningful cause? 
  • Be transparent. Dreaming of an exotic honeymoon or down payment on a home rather than appliances and towels? Don’t be afraid to ask your nearest and dearest to contribute to big expenses. Set up a cash registry and designate a goal, but don’t forget to share specific details on how you plan to use the funds. By writing a short story about your financial goal, you can help your wedding guests fully understand what they are supporting and why it’s important. Meanwhile, you and your spouse can feel excited about inviting them along on your financial journey.
  • Add your registry to your wedding website. By putting your list online, answering the question “where are you registered” becomes stress-free; you can direct loved ones to the site without any awkwardness or embarrassment. If you’re asking for charitable donations, cash funds or gift cards, it also creates an easy way to share why a financial contribution would be more meaningful than a physical gift at this time in your lives. 

Showing Appreciation

Woman in white lace dress smiles while standing in front of table filled with gifts

At the end of the day, it’s important to keep in mind that a wedding registry is merely a suggestion. Your family and friends are not required to buy a gift, though they likely will — and will appreciate any guidance you and your partner are able to provide as they search for the perfect way to celebrate your nuptials. 

Our final takeaway for alleviating wedding registry guilt? Show your appreciation no matter how or when a gift is delivered. You may open them at a wedding shower before the big day, in the privacy of your home after the delivery truck visits, or even in the weeks after you return from your honeymoon. As people move away from hometowns and across the world, it isn’t always practical to gather for the tradition of unwrapping gifts in front of the giver. You don’t need to feel self-centered when opening a package alone. After all, when a guest chooses a gift from your wedding registry, they can be certain it’s something you absolutely love. 

No matter the setting or circumstance, just approach each gift with grace and gratitude. And don’t forget to send a sincere thank you note to overcome any lingering feelings of guilt about registering for wedding gifts!

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Your wedding registry, your way

From gifts, to cash funds, experiences or charitable causes, add any gift you want, from any online retailer, to your Joy registry.

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