Ask an Expert: Sanity Saving Tips for your Wedding Registry

The wedding registry: Invented in 1924 by Marshal Fields as a tool to communicate the needs of the to-be-wed, today every retailer has one and there are a growing number of online options for couples to get creative and register for everything from honeymoons to home down payments. Though guests were originally aghast at the idea of a list “telling them what to buy,” in 2010, not only is it commonplace, but welcomed by most as a valuable resource.

From the traditional to the alternative, we have a lot of options to share what would be most useful to us. But the way we live has evolved and it is driving a different set of needs than even a mere generation ago: we’re more mobile, getting married later, are more eco-conscious and thinking longer term.

 With so much involved in planning a wedding, and frankly so many choices, it’s easy to get carried away, especially when it comes to the gifting. However, just because today’s guests practically expect a registry, there’s a fine line between acknowledging the obvious that people want to give you a gift, and acting as if you presume they’ll be giving you something – it’s the presumption part where people get crotchety.

So what is the right balance to select and communicate the registries?

  1. Create at least 1 registry, not more than 3. If you are among the couples that feel uncomfortable ‘asking’ for gifts, try to shift your focus and keep in mind that you are not ‘asking’ for anything. A registry is an idea list that relieves guests of guess-work and stress, and is anything but a list of demands. It’s good to give your guests choices, so 2-3 registries is a typical sweet spot, while not being overwhelming.
  2. Don’t have separate registries per event. There is only 1 thing happening here: you are getting married. When you register, you are creating gift lists for this occasion in its entirety and these registries may be used for everything from an engagement party to a bridal shower to a bachelorette party. Don’t let semantics confuse you…some stores call it a wedding registry, some a bridal registry, some a gift list, but they are all the same thing.
  3. Make it fun — think like a gift-giver! Although this is your moment, you’ll fare better if you keep your guests in mind. This does not mean that you should stress about what they’re thinking, you’ll think, they’re thinking and all of that emotional head garbage! Thinking like a gift-giver means: What do you like to give as a gift? If you’re like most, you want to give something special that you’ll be remembered fondly for. So whether you’re making a registry to update your kitchen or registering for a new home fund, try to create a list of special gift items that feels personal and is fun for guests to shop from.
  4. Keep it simple and all in 1 place. Many guests struggle just to keep up with the details, book hotels and manage flights, let alone make sure they buy you a nice gift. The last thing you want is for the registry to add to their confusion. Today wedding websites are easy, often free and the perfect tool to stay organized: Fill them with all the wedding details, including the registry information so guests have it handy. The wedding website URL can be included on an invitation insert or emailed as appropriate.
  5. Online availability is key: Make sure to have at least 1 registry with an online shopping option so guests can just click and go. You’ll be surprised how many gifts are bought the night before or the day of the event.



Dana Ostomel is the founder of Deposit a Gift, an online cash gift registry service where people register for everything from honeymoons to home downy payments to newlywed activities.

Years before Dana got married, she wondered how anyone could store so many presents—and even if they could, how they had the time to unwrap, return (often), and store all of them. Her marketing background led her to believe she could simplify the registry process—and not just for weddings, but for any big gifting event. And so Deposit a Gift, the next generation gift registry, was born. Read more about Dana.

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