Your Wedding Registry Etiquette Questions, Answered
Here's the thing about wedding registries: They often make couples feel uncomfortable. It isn't always easy to ask hundreds of people you know and love for hand-selected gifts—and if you do feel off-kilter about this task, know that you're not alone. The best way to calm any of those pre-registry jitters? Ensure that you're crafting a thoughtful gift list in an etiquette-approved way.
To help you do so, we tapped three experts to answer the wedding registry etiquette questions you might feel shy about asking on your own. From how to actually tell your big-day attendees about your registry to when these presents are actually exchanged, you'll find everything you need to know in these experts' tips, ahead. Also covered in their sage advice? The dos and don'ts of honeyfund and cash registries. Ultimately, this comprehensive guide is designed to help you curate the gift list of your dreams while simultaneously respecting your future wedding guests (this means choosing presents with varied price points, registering at easy-to-access places, and outlining exactly where to make a purchase).
Though putting together a list of things you can't wait to open is always fun, most couples quickly realize the magnitude of this task—this often overshadows what should be a seriously enjoyable experience, one you'll remember well into your married years. That's why a healthy dose of tried-and-true advice always comes in handy (especially when family is involved). Stick to the following tips and you're guaranteed to get the wedding presents you want without stepping on any toes.
How should you tell guests about your registry?
"Couples can share their registry information on their wedding website, save-the-date, or bridal shower invitation," says Myka Meier, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette. "Registry information should not be included on or with a wedding invitation." Word of mouth is another reliable option, says Diane Gottsman, the etiquette expert at The Protocol School of Texas—your maid of honor would be an appropriate person to tap for this task.
You should also use the above methods to tell guests that you aren't setting up a registry, if you've decided to bypass one; not mentioning a gift list doesn't imply that you don't have one (most attendees expect to show up to your parties with something in hand!). The same logic applies to charity-based registries. "A couple can recommend guests make a donation to a charity and list several charities that are close to their heart on their website and save-the-date," adds Meier.
Can you ever register for cash?
"Simply asking for cash is not recommended," says Anne Chertoff, the wedding specialist at Beaumont Etiquette. "A couple may, however, find a registry that lists different gifts outside of a honeymoon, such as their new home, which would take place of a honeyfund." Gottsman advises caution, though, if you do ultimately decide to set up a registry for a down payment on a home, for example. "Unless you have discussed this idea with very close family members, large ticket items are not standard registry items," she says.
Are honeyfunds an etiquette-approved registry option?
While asking for straight cash isn't recommended, a honeymoon fund (or honeyfund!) is a unique, perfectly acceptable registry option for duos who'd rather travel than furnish a home. "Honeyfunds allow guests to gift experiences that the couple can do while on their honeymoon, such as a romantic dinner, spa treatments, and activities, like scuba diving, skiing, snorkeling, etc.," says Meier.
Can you create a wedding registry even if you're eloping?
If you've decided to elope—or are throwing a family-only wedding—you might be wondering if it's acceptable to create a registry (or pass on registry details) to friends and extended family members not attending your small-scale big day. According to Gottsman, however, only those actually attending the celebration should be told about a gift list: "Unless you are inviting guests to a wedding, you should not create a registry and expect everyone to send a gift," she says. There is an exception to this, though, adds Meier: "If the couple is planning a post-ceremony reception, they should create a registry."
When do guests typically give registry gifts?
Registry gifts are typically exchanged during pre-wedding parties, like the bridal shower, or on the big day itself, says Chertoff. There are, however, two occasions that don't often involve presents, notes Gottsman. "Registry gifts are not mandatory for an engagement party or a bachelorette party."
Is the bridal party required to gift the couple from the registry?
If you're a bridesmaid, you're extremely close to the bride—which means you might have your eye on a wedding gift she'll love that she didn't necessarily hand-pick for the registry. It's perfectly acceptable to gift her the present of you choosing, says Gottsman: "Giving a gift from the registry is not required for any guest, including the bridal party." In fact, many groups of bridesmaids choose to pool their resources and gift something fun, together—or they can select items individually. Either works, notes Chertoff.
Can you have more than one registry?
Feel free to register at more than one store, either online or brick-and-mortar, says Meier. "A good format is to choose a traditional retailer (like Bloomingdale's or Williams-Sonoma), a retailer that reflects a hobby or interest, and a charitable or honeyfund registry," she advises.
Registering at multiple stores also comes into play when creating a high-low present mix (your final, collective list should have a good mix of both pricey, high-end items and affordable options to accommodate all of your guests). "A registry should include all different price points," suggests Gottsman. Meier says not to feel uncomfortable by setting up a registry at a pricier store or selecting costly products: "A couple should feel comfortable registering for large-ticket items. Some guests may want to go in on a group gift such as a KitchenAid mixer, large-screen TV, or furniture."
Can you return a registry gift?
And if you do return a wedding present, do you have to tell the gifter about it? "You can return gifts from the registry—and it's not necessary to notify the guest," answers Gottsman, especially in the context of receiving duplicates (which frequently happens!). "Returning a gift for something that you can use is perfectly acceptable." This doesn't, however, exempt you from writing a heartfelt thank-you note, adds Meier.
When should you send out thank-you cards for registry gifts?
"A thank-you note should be sent within two weeks of receiving an engagement or shower gift," explains Chertoff. "For gifts received at the wedding, send thank-you notes within three months of the wedding date." To make this process smoother, "make sure to keep a checklist of who has given what," advises Gottsman.