Creating a registry is one of those things that seems like loads of fun. If you’ve watched a rom-com or two in your day, you may envision going to a physical store, juggling some fine china, and playing laser tag with one of those price-scanner guns. However, few things in life are as fun as the movies make them out to be. Creating a complete and cohesive registry can be daunting when it’s another “to-do” on your list during a very exciting but busy time in your life. It can also feel a bit uncomfortable and greedy to make a list of expensive items that you expect your loved ones to buy. More likely than not, you’ll be making your registry on your phone or computer from the comfort of your couch, curled up next to your betrothed. You may not get to use a bar code scanner, and your registry may have few physical items at all. If you are engaged and you find yourself overwhelmed by options and opinions when it comes to crafting a registry that your guests will appreciate – and that you and your partner will love – fear not, and read on!
First, understand that there is no one-size-fits-all registry. Despite what your grandma or your future mother-in-law says, it may not make sense for you to add dozens of bath towels, bone china teacups, or a stand mixer. The concept of the wedding registry rose in popularity at a time when couples were marrying, on average, at younger ages and when living together before marriage was ubiquitously taboo. As such, most couples did not have plates and towels of their own for day-to-day use. A wedding registry was meant to be a way for guests to gift the items that would be the foundation of a young couple’s household. The heart of the sentiment remains, but times have changed, and registry platforms have adapted — there are almost no hard and fast rules that dictate a modern wedding registry. To cultivate the registry that is perfect for you, consider your priorities, your current and upcoming living arrangements, and the future you envision together as a married couple.
As you begin to list items for your registry, consider what matters most to you and your partner. For the adventurous couples, homebodies, philanthropic pairs, and every type in between, there are ways to align this season of gifting with your priorities. Nowadays, cash funds of all kinds are a popular registry option. Think: honeymoon, future home, fancy dining experience, or puppy of your dreams! Alternatively, you can ask loved ones to donate to a charity of your choice in your name.
Cash funds are amazing tools, but keep in mind that many of your guests may be more interested in gifting something tangible: a treasure that has a connection to their relationship with you. For instance, a friend who typically hosts game night may want to gift you a board game that they know you love. Such a gift is an opportunity to share more fun times together with your friend. Gift-giving can also be considered an important way to remain involved and relevant in your changing life; every time you use your new salad bowl, Aunt Sally hopes that you are reminded of her and her support for your marriage.
Your current living arrangements as a couple are a key consideration when it comes time to put together your registry. No matter what your living situation, consider what household staples you and your future spouse already possess (either together or individually) that you plan to keep and continue to use. Then, list things that you lack. Ideally these items would make your daily life easier and more pleasurable.
Next, give thought to the space where you and your partner will begin married life. For example, if you plan to live together in a small apartment, be conscious of your limited space and consider registering for modular furniture or pieces that are multi-functional – or ask for gift cards to your favorite shops so that you can furnish your space to your liking. If you already live together, there may be no need or desire for new furniture, appliances, or décor. Instead of feeling pressure to register for the typical items that people expect but that you have no need for, consider getting creative and choosing some bespoke pieces to spice up your home.
When it comes to traditional housewares, now is a great time to ask for items that are well-built and will last a lifetime. Cast iron cookware and linen sheets, for example, get better with time, use, and thoughtful care. Don’t be afraid to upgrade items that you may already have. Larger, more expensive items can often be added with the option of “group-gifting” so that many individuals may chip in to buy one pricier item. It may feel strange to register for a new appliance when you already have a functional one, but now is the time in your life to ask for the nice things that you may not ordinarily splurge on for yourself. It will bring one (or many) of your loved ones considerable joy to provide you with a useful item to start your next phase of life. After the wedding, you can always donate or sell the old item.
As you cultivate your registry, take into consideration the dreams that you and your future spouse share for married life. If you want to host dinner parties, for example, why not register for fancy dinnerware and a grill? Imagine how pleased the givers will be when they see their gift put to good use when you host them! If you have a favorite activity together as a couple, consider a cash fund or items that support it. A new camera to document your travels or a popcorn maker for your movie nights in will only help you to enjoy time together even more. Perhaps your favorite hobbies are enjoyed separately. Maintaining individual interests can contribute to the overall health of your marriage, so it's okay to register for a few gifts relative to those pastimes as well.
Etiquette surrounding wedding registries has become less strict over time; however, there are still some best practices to follow. Be considerate of your family and friends by registering early — some gift-giving events such as engagement parties and bridal showers take place months before the wedding itself. Register for enough goods that every guest (even those prone to waiting until the last minute) can find the perfect gift. Even if you create your entire registry online, be sure that some of the retailers you choose have readily accessible brick-and-mortar stores. Some of your guest will prefer the ease of online shopping but others may be far more comfortable walking into a store and seeing the options first-hand. Be sure to include items with varying price ranges to accommodate every budget. It is both polite and wise to send thank you notes in a timely manner – if you can manage to do so, your future self with thank you. Additionally, it is generally advised that you refrain from using gifts until after the wedding.
This is a time of celebration, and your wedding registry allows your loved ones to share their enthusiasm with you. Feel free to dream big and make use of group-gifting and/or cash funds. Make it personal so your loved ones get to feel even more connected to you as a couple through the gifts they give (and so you aren’t stuck with a crystal vase that you never use). Ask for everything and anything — as long as it is relevant to your priorities, your living situations, and/or your future as a couple!
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or just want some help celebrating your engagement by getting your registry started, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com. I would love to hear all about your love story and to share any additional registry wisdom I may have gleaned for creating my own last year. Happy registering!