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You've been requesting and receiving gifts all your life (hello, birthdays, holidays, and just about every occasion in between), but when it comes to asking for and receiving wedding gifts, the exchange is a little more nuanced. No matter where you register, and the products that end up on your final wish list, our dos and don'ts will simplify the entire process.
Don't Go Overboard
When registering, stick to two or three stores you love. Choose a national department store or chain that has lots of household basics; and you may also want a local specialty store to add to your registry. Think of your guests—you may want to choose stores that are low-, medium-, and high-end, so guests have gifts in a variety of price ranges to choose from.
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Do Register Ahead of Time
Complete your registry four to six months before the wedding. This will give guests time to purchase gifts for the big day, but also for your engagement and a shower.
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Don't Tell Guests Where You're Registered in Your Invitation
Once you have registered, give the information to immediate family and the wedding party, and let them spread the word. If you are asked where you have registered, it is fine for you to tell, but it is not proper to include registry information in a wedding invitation. Registry information can be included on a wedding website, as long as the actual name of the store is not included on the same layer; organize your website so that guests must click down one level to find the details.
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Do Register for Enough Gifts
Register for more gifts than you have guests, so there will be plenty of items to choose from. Think about who your guests are, and register for gifts in a wide range of prices, or choose individual items rather than sets, as with pots and pans, for instance. It is fine to put a few expensive items on your registry, but balance them with equally lovely options that are more affordable.
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Don't Ask for Money
While it's still taboo to ask for money directly, financial registries try to make this less awkward; for example, couples can now register for stocks via a website such as GiftsofStock.com, or for their honeymoon through a travel agency or an online service such as TheHoneymoon.com. Saving up for a house? Some banks have programs that let brides and grooms establish a special account to which guests can give money earmarked for a down payment.
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If your registry doesn't automatically notify you when a gift has been purchased, review your registry every few weeks, and more frequently as the wedding approaches. Use your updated registry to help you keep up with writing thank-you notes.
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Don't Limit Your Registry
"Don't think just about your lifestyle as it is today. You'll be entertaining more in the years to come, so create a wish list of items: a platter for your first Thanksgiving dinner or champagne glasses for a New Year's toast. Keep those special occasions in mind; it's a wonderful way to include loved ones in those important milestones," says registry expert Mary Rose Gearon, pictured at left.
Ideally, you should acknowledge every present immediately; writing a note the day you receive it is best, but sending it within two weeks is also acceptable. Of course, the period surrounding your wedding is a busy time; if you fall behind, just make every effort to send a thank you as soon as you can—but no later than three months after the event.
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Don't Worry if You Don't Get Everything on Your Registry
If you don't receive everything you registered for, don't fret. Many stores have a completion program, which offers a discount on remaining items, or will keep the registry active for anywhere from a few months to a few years, so friends and relatives can continue to purchase gifts from it as other joyous occasions arise.
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Do Involve the Groom
He might not be invested in your bouquet flowers, the ceremony backdrop, or the hotel blocks for guests, but here's the groom’s time to shine! Enlist his help in filling out your registry. There's room for yard tools, whiskey glasses, sports equipment (within reason), and collectible books amid all of your pretty choices, trust us.
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Don't Hesitate to Return Things
It happens to all of us: We order items online, positive they'll fit, feel, or look as great as the picture indicates. Then, the package arrives, and the conclusion is unanimous: return it. The same can happen for products on your registry! Don't feel obligated to notify the gift giver of your exchange, but know that it's allowed—and common—to replace ho-hum choices with ones you totally love.
Even if you request vintage selects from an antique store, china from your local design shop, and kitchenware from Macy's, you can still group all of your requests in one all-inclusive registry. Doing so not only makes your life easier (you'll be managing one list, rather than multiple separate ones) but your guests', too, who only have to search one spot to find the just-right gift. Online registry sites make combining gift lists a cinch, and you can always include a picture and description for that specialty item that's only available in-store to raise money for it, then buy it later.
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Don't Write-Off Gifts That Aren't Products
Charitable donations, experiences (visit IfOnly), and contributions to a down payment (try Hatch My House), stock portfolio, or honeymoon (check out Honeyfund) are all valid gift requests. Just be sure to include some physical presents on your wish list, too, to keep your great aunt and traditionalists happy.
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Do Tailor The Shipping Settings
Many online registries let you select when you want to receive your gifts by mail (either as they're purchased, in bulk shipments, or at a later date entirely). For example, if you and your fiancé have a move on the horizon (into a new house or to a brand new city) it might be advantageous to have presents sent to your home once you've arrived. Similarly, if you have to take a trip to the post office or local shipping company to pick-up packages then it's practical to have gifts arrive in groups. Request email notifications when gifts are bought to stay on top of thank you notes (that's right, those should still be sent within two weeks of the giver's purchase regardless of when the gift lands on your doorstep!).
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Don't Only Register for Fine China, Crystal, and Silverware
Fill your future home with items that feel personal and useful to you and the groom; otherwise, you'll feel like you're living in a grand museum featuring someone else's beautiful objects. Along with building your collection of family-holiday-worthy pieces (looking at you, gravy boat), leave room for the fun stuff, like a bright KitchenAid mixer, funky mirror for your entryway, and professional camera for those trips aboard.