Of all the to-do items on your wedding planning list, starting your wedding registry is one of the most exciting. It’s an opportunity to think about everything you truly want and need, and add it all to a wish list to help guide wedding guests who want to shower you with love.
When it comes to creating your registry wish list, the sky’s the limit. Gone are the days when couples would visit a department store and select retail items to add to their registry. While doing so is still an option, the wedding registry experience has long since evolved to become one-stop shops for gifting.
Universal registries allow couples to browse multiple stores and connect them in one place. You can also think broader by adding a honeymoon fund, a general cash fund, and even charities to your registry. Just remember: The best wedding registry is one that suits all your unique needs! But with so many wedding registry options out there, you might not know where to start. To simplify the process and help you breeze through it like a pro, read on for our top 15 wedding registry tips, an essential guide for any couple.
1. Get a head start with your wedding registry
After getting engaged, loved ones are usually eager for the opportunity to celebrate you — with gifts! It’s wise to start thinking about wedding registry ideas and creating your wish list soon after your engagement. Registering early allows you to avoid receiving duplicate wedding gifts or having to return unwanted bakeware or wine glasses. But registering early doesn’t mean you have to create the perfect wish list right away! Add just a few items you know you’ll use, then revisit your registry once you’ve had a chance to evaluate exactly what you’ll need for your newlywed home.
2. Work with your partner to make a wish list
Turn this wedding to-do into a date night activity with a bottle of wine and a couple of notebooks. If you need ideas on how to build out your wish list, start by reviewing a wedding registry checklist and cross off anything you already own. Or to make it more fun, you can both spend a few minutes jotting down separate, spontaneous wish lists and share what came to mind for each of you.
Who knows? You might even decide to add a honeymoon fund to your wedding registry to help you take that amazing post-wedding trip of your dreams.
3. Narrow down your wedding registry options
Whether you’re asking for retail products, honeymoon funds, gift cards, cash gifts or charitable donations, there are a number of things to consider when deciding where to register. Sit down with your partner and make a list of features that are most important to you. If that list is becoming exhaustive, a universal registry may be a great way to check most of your boxes without having to manage multiple types of registries.
4. Learn about all the wedding registry perks
As you peruse various wedding registry sites and stores, be sure to consider their perks. For example, many offer a completion discount that you can redeem after your wedding day. One of the most common types of perks you’ll encounter, a completion discount may range from 10 to 20 percent off the remaining items on your wedding registry after your big day.
5. Take your time with your wedding registry
If you started your wedding registry early, you’ll have plenty of time to think about the items or experiences you truly want and need. That said, you should expect your wish list to evolve over time. Our advice is to enjoy the registry process. Look for gift registry options from all areas of your life, and don’t feel like you need to fill in all of your wish list blanks at the same time.
6. Ask for wedding registry advice from loved ones
As you consider various registry providers and craft your wish list, reach out to close friends and family members who’ve recently tied the knot for support. These wedding planning veterans can fill you in on their favorite providers, the items and experiences they’re so glad they registered for, the ones they wish they’d left off their list, and any other tidbits that might be helpful.
7. Add what you need — and then some
Don’t be too heavy-handed in editing down your wish list. In addition to determining how many gifts you should register for to ensure your guests have enough options, consider your own needs as well. If you’re torn between two items, such as two different styles of glassware, why not add both? The same can be said about adding extra sets of items like flatware. Adding more gifts than you need is also a great way to ensure you can get remaining items with a registry completion discount. Plus, many retailers offer a generous return policy just in case you change your mind.
8. Use your wedding registry to upgrade home essentials
If your list is still feeling a little sparse, remember that sometimes what you need is not always in line with what you want. Do you have a perfectly functional coffee maker? Probably. But wouldn’t it be great to enjoy a barista-quality espresso every weekend, in the comfort of your own home? Your wedding registry is a great way to treat yourself to a little indulgence with the help of friends and family who love you most.
Your hobbies are a good place to start when it comes to choosing what to upgrade. If you’re an avid baker, for example, you may want to retire your trusty old hand mixer and ask for a stand mixer — it may be an expensive item, but wedding guests may want to go in on a group gift! Also look around your home for appliances and everyday essentials that are in need of a little TLC. Think well-loved linens, chipped plates from a dinnerware set, or those bath towels you’ve hung onto for years.
9. Plan for all seasons
When you’re immersed in wedding planning, it’s sometimes hard to look beyond the big day. Special occasions and seasonal festivities are often overlooked, so be sure to discuss your year-round needs with your partner. If you plan on hosting a Fourth of July get-together, a set of barbecue tools might make a great addition to your registry, even if you don’t plan on firing up the grill every weekend. These once-a-year hosting pieces, such as a turkey carving board, can help round out your registry and save you a trip to the store when the holidays roll around.
10. Get the word out about your wedding registry
Once you’ve created your wedding registry, it’s time to share it with loved ones! A popular way to approach spreading the word is through your wedding website. When you send out save the dates or invitations to your engagement party, wedding shower or wedding, it’s easy to include the link to your wedding website. It’s an easy way for guests to preview essential details about your wedding and easily find your wedding registry information.
Creating a wedding website can also come with additional benefits. For example, with a wedding website through Joy, you can send wedding invitations, add your wedding schedule, and house your registry all at one link, among other perks.
11. Keep up with your wish list
After sharing your wedding registry with loved ones, it’s wise to periodically check your list to ensure you still have plenty of available items to purchase at a range of price points. We recommend checking at least once a week, especially as you near your wedding day. You can make this process easier by downloading the app many registry providers offer. These apps allow you to edit your registry on-the-go, which is a huge bonus when you’re busy with wedding planning.
12. Don’t be afraid to revisit wedding registry items
One of the biggest mistakes you could make is to create your registry and then forget about it. Items you hoped to receive may be out of stock or discontinued. Or, your needs may evolve and you could end up with a toaster instead of that air fryer combo you’ve been eyeing. As long as no one has purchased an item, it’s not too late to change your mind. Feel free to change the quantity, update color preferences, or even remove registry items altogether.
13. Replenish your list when guests are most likely to shop
Let’s face it — more often than not, time can get away from you during the wedding planning process. This likely rings true for your wedding guests as well. So while you race to wrap up those final details of your big day, they’re probably engaged in a similar scramble to get you a gift you’ll love. The couple weeks before and after your wedding will be when many guests purchase you a gift, so be sure to plan accordingly. Consider adding a few additional items for good measure around that time frame to ensure there are plenty of options available for guests to shop.
14. Show your appreciation to gift-givers
After guests shower you with love by gifting items from your wedding registry, it’s only natural for you to reciprocate with a thank you note. Express gratitude with a thoughtful missive about how you plan to use the specific gift they chose, as well as a general thanks for their attendance at your wedding.
15. Keep your registry active after your wedding
Though they have the best intentions, some guests may completely forget about buying a gift until they see a table at your reception. Etiquette experts debate on the appropriate time frame for gift-giving after a wedding, but it can generally range from three months up to a year. Make it easy for your loved ones to send a belated gift by ensuring your registry is up-to-date even after you exchange vows. While it’s not necessary to check it regularly, do keep the link live and have at least a few options for your loved ones who got a late start on shopping.
Essential Wedding Registry Resources
To help get started with gift ideas for your wishlist, we’ve created comprehensive guides to the best picks — at various price points — for some of the most popular wedding registry categories. This includes cookware, dinnerware, gadgets, appliances, and more to kick off your life as newlyweds. While flipping through these guides, consider some of the unique, specific features you and your partner are looking for with the registry items on your wishlist.