From the moment you get engaged, your mind will be whirling with questions about the wedding planning process. While you may be all about starting that venue search ASAP, don’t sleep on your wedding registry!
You might think it’s frivolous to focus on such a fun aspect of your wedding day, but trust us: You’ll want to start building your wish list right away. It’s an important element of wedding planning, and by approaching it with a sense of urgency, engaged couples can set themselves up for smooth sailing on the countdown to the big day. So, at what point during wedding planning should you make your registry and share it with loved ones? Let’s dive in with a look at everything you need to know about when to register, with tips for managing your time.
When should I create my wedding registry?
There is no harm in starting your registry the second you get engaged, but most couples will begin building a gift list one month or so after popping the question. A good general rule is to start working on a registry after you set a date, but before the invitations for your first wedding-related event go out to guests.
Remember, just because you’re starting to build your registry doesn’t mean you have to have all your wedding gift ideas ready within a day. Think of it as an initial wish list of things you know you’ll need as newlyweds, whether that’s a cookware set, new linens or big-ticket items you wouldn’t be able to purchase for yourselves. Also consider specialty items that are a bit more personal, such as monogrammed glasses and home decor, at a variety of price points to meet every budget. If you’re stuck, a wedding registry checklist is a great place to look for inspiration.
Can’t think of anything you need right now? Start a honeymoon fund so wedding guests can contribute to activities, travel and hotel accommodations, or register for other cash gifts such as a down payment on your first home. Gift cards are also a nice option for the couple that has everything. Getting creative with your registry is a great way to bring your family and friends along for every milestone in your new life together.
Once you have the essentials added, use the time leading up to your big day to fill in the gaps little by little. Here are a few tips for following the ideal timeline when it comes to creating and sharing your registry.
Add a Few Items Right Away
We absolutely agree that there are some pressing matters to attend to when you get engaged, like setting a wedding date, but it’s worth repeating: Get a head start on creating your registry.
While your wedding day might be a year or more away, your family and friends could already be planning engagement parties, wedding showers, and other events to celebrate your upcoming union. Since engagement parties occur a month or two after your proposal, having your registry at the ready will help guide guests who want to give you a little something to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Not only is it fun (and stress-free) to start browsing for things you love, your wedding guests will also really appreciate the heads-up on gifting — especially if you’re thoughtful enough to include at least a few registry items at price points for every budget!
Spread the Word Early
Speaking of your guests, don’t forget to let them know where you are registered as soon as possible. An easy way to do this is by including important registry information on your wedding website, which you should set up as soon as you set a date. The best wedding registry sites, like Joy’s all-in-one registry, will allow you to sync your items from different retailers under a single link (plus add registry items directly from the platform). You can then direct guests to your website for all wedding-related details, making it easy for them to find and peruse your registry items as they read about your love story. An unexpected perk: A wedding website link will likely spread by word of mouth if you share it early enough, so you can avoid all the questions later on about where to find your registry list.
Starting Now Will Save Time Later
Investing a little time now to get your registry rolling will pay dividends once the busiest season of planning begins. If making a registry feels too forward or a little selfish right now, we totally get that. Prioritizing “shopping” over securing a caterer, for example, might sound irresponsible, but hear us out. Creating the ultimate wedding registry is an ongoing process — luckily, it’s a fun one. Taking little breaks with your partner between making big decisions in the early days of engagement can help prevent you from feeling pressed for time closer to the big day, and provide a little stress relief as you imagine your newlywed lives together.
Set a Soft Deadline
Not everyone will bring a present to an engagement party, but wedding showers are traditionally held to give the happy couple useful gifts that help ease them into this next stage in their lives. If you have a wedding shower on the horizon, it’s ideal to have your registry up and running before those invites are sent out. Even partially complete is better than nothing, since you’ll run the risk of receiving wedding gifts that may not mesh with your taste or duplicates of things you already have. But don’t worry if you miss this soft deadline — just be sure to have your registry linked to your website before dropping your wedding invitations in the mail!
Revisit Your List Often
Remember that your registry is an ever-evolving wish list. Just because you set up your gift registry early doesn’t mean it has to be completed the same day, week or even month. As you navigate the wedding planning process, plan your honeymoon and think about the future, you’ll inevitably start to find more and more things to put on your registry. Keep adding gifts and check your list often to ensure there are still items available for guests to choose from in the weeks leading up to your wedding day. In fact, wedding registry etiquette suggests you can even add gifts post-wedding for any last-minute shoppers. Take your time; finding out what you really need and want is all part of the wedding registry journey!
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the ideal wedding registry timeline can only be decided by you and your partner. These pearls of wisdom are just guidelines to help you along your wedding planning path. But when all is said and done, whether you add that bakeware and dinnerware a few days after you pop the question or a month before “I do,” you’ll be set as long as you have something on your registry to help guide loved ones.