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As soon as you begin making wedding plans, you should start thinking about your wedding registry. While you may think it's not important (or even greedy), a registry makes it easy for your guests to buy the things you want and need. Plus, planning a registry can help you and your guests save money.
Read on for our ultimate guide to wedding registries, from the items to put on them to the perks and discounts you can get at different stores.
Stores often offer incentives to get couples to register. These perks can include something as simple as free (or discounted) shipping, easy ways for groups to chip in for a large purchase, or a straight-up discount for buying registry gifts.
Properly planning your registry helps, too. Registering with budget-friendly stores (and for budget-friendly gifts) lets guests who can't afford the traditional china and crystal buy something you'll still love.
Registries can also save you money, as many stores offer reward points and discounts on purchases before or after the wedding. You may even get free gifts, depending on what your guests buy.
If someone wants to buy you a wedding gift but you don't have a registry, it means they have to shop around and guess at what you might want. That takes time. Guests may have to carry your gift to the wedding, or pay to have it shipped.
With a registry, your guests can browse, pick what they like, and have the gift shipped to you with just a few mouse clicks. And for guests who may not be internet-savvy, shops will let them order by phone or in person, too. A registry also makes it easy for you to track what you've gotten for the inevitable round of thank-you cards you'll need to write. In fact, most stores will track this for you automatically.
In short, a wedding registry makes gift-giving easier for everyone.
Here's the hard part: picking out what goes on your registry. Making a list of all the household items you could use, and even the brands or colors you prefer, is time-consuming. But as we've said, it's worth it.
So how do you decide what goes on your list? You can start by browsing sample lists, like this one from The Knot or this one from Vogue. But you don't have to lock yourself into the traditional gift list, either. The most important consideration for your registry is picking out things both you and your future spouse will love.
Do you enjoy cooking? Then kitchen appliances, dishware, and cookware should be on your list. Are you starting a new household and in need of home essentials? Look to the items you need to have around the house, from furniture to linens. Is the great outdoors more your thing? Then register for camping gear!
Here are a few tips to build your wedding registry wish list:
While it may seem excessive, it's important to have more items on your list than you have guests, which makes it easier for guests to buy what they want. This is where picking items at different price points comes in, too. If you have one item per guest, the last people shopping may not have any options that suit their budget.
To make sure your list maintains a variety of items and prices as your wedding date approaches, check your list regularly. If you notice everything in a particular price range is gone, consider adding a few new things to the list.
You should begin working on your registry as soon as you start planning your wedding. This will give your guests plenty of lead time to pick out a present, or find the right gift for pre-wedding events. That said, you don't want to rush making your list, either. Take enough time to pick the right items for your registry.
Once you have a list of items you want, start thinking about where to register. Registering at one store keeps things simple, but it's not inappropriate to register with two or three. At least one should be a large, nationwide retailer to make it easy for your guests to shop no matter where they are. For additional registries, you can think about specialty stores — say, Williams-Sonoma for high-end kitchenware.
Most stores will let you create your registry in person or online. If you go to the store to build your registry, you may even be assigned a sales associate to help you find what you're looking for and suggest things you may need. For some couples, that can be a big help; others may not want someone hovering over their shoulder while they shop. Be sure to find out how to make a registry and how guests can buy from it before you decide on where to register.
Most major stores and brands have wedding registry options, but here are some big names to consider:
It's hard to get more convenient than Amazon, where creating a registry is as easy as shopping online. And while Amazon offers a huge range of products, you can also add non-Amazon items to your registry with a browser add-on and a couple of clicks. You also get an extended 180-day return window and 10% off (20% for Prime members) registry items after the wedding. Amazon also offers free gifts based on how much your guests spend.
One of the nice things about registering at Bed Bath & Beyond is the amount of help you can get creating your registry. You can have an in-store consultation to pick the right gifts (be sure to schedule an appointment online), and you can even invite family and friends to suggest items you might need. It's handy if you're a little lost in the wedding registry process.
There's a discount for completing your registry, but it's a bit more restrictive than what other registries offer. Bed Bath & Beyond will give you a coupon for 10% off registry items that you can use once in-store and once online. Then there's the standard selection of free gifts you can earn.
You may not think about registering at an electronics store, but Best Buy offers a range of appliances and must-have home technology that can make it a good option. Still, you probably don't want it to be your only registry. The benefits are pretty basic: You get 10% off on registry items after your wedding, as well as an extended window for returns and exchanges.
If you want personal help selecting your registry items, but more options than Bed Bath & Beyond offers, Bloomingdale's really shines. The store has dedicated registry consultants to help both you and your guests navigate your wish list. You also get some good discounts, with 20% off select clothing (making it a good opportunity to pick up some fresh formalwear) and 10% off anything still on your registry after your wedding day.
For extra savings, Kohl's is a great choice, offering your guests 20% off in-store registry purchases of at least $100. You'll have to use Kohl's free announcement cards to tell guests about your registry and get them their coupon.
Savings benefits are available for you, too. You can earn 10% in rewards on all registry items purchased, giving you extra cash to spend on anything else you need after your big day — and there's no extra registration or other requirements to get these rewards. You also get a 15% discount on registry items you buy for yourself after the wedding. And like most registries, you can earn free gifts.
Though you can get a grab bag of savings at Macy's, the program is a bit more complicated than what Kohl's offers. Macy's has discounts of up to 20% on select items, as well 5% to 10% in rewards on registry purchases (but you have to sign up separately) and a selection of free gifts. After the wedding, you get 20% off any items left on your registry.
Here you can get the benefits of both online and in-store registries. Target lets you select from anything in its stores (just scan an item with your smartphone to add it), but also anything from any other online store (with a universal registry feature like Amazon's). This makes it a convenient one-stop registry. For savings, Target will price match other retailers, and it offers the usual selection of free gifts. After the wedding, you can get 15% off items left on your registry.
The advantage of registering with Walmart begins and ends with, "It's Walmart." Creating a registry is simple online or in-store (where you just scan items with your smartphone). However, there are no particular incentives beyond Walmart's wide selection and low prices.
Are all of these registries are getting too complicated? You can use MyRegistry to merge your registries into one big list.
But what if you'd rather have a great honeymoon or the down payment on a house instead of a new blender? You can always ask for cash instead of gifts — and, yes, The Emily Post Institute says it's completely okay. Here are a few options:
This site lets you collect cash gifts for just about anything, and offers special deals to help you spend and save at the same time. However, there's a fee for converting your gifts directly to cash via WePay or PayPal.
Here's another option for collecting cash. Tendr's fee structure is simpler than Honeyfund's, with a $3 fee for anyone sending money — and no fees for withdrawing it. There's no network of discounts here, but the simplicity has a lot of appeal. And if you're interested in charity giving, you can send a portion of all gifts to your supported charity.
If you want to focus on charitable giving, it's simple to provide guests with the name of your charity. Or if you want to add charities to a more traditional gift list, MyRegistry can combine them.
One tricky thing about wedding registries is that it's considered rude to include registry information on your wedding invitations. Still, you can include it on your wedding website (which you may mention in your wedding invitation). The info can also go in engagement party or bridal shower invitations, which typically come from whoever's hosting the party — technically, you aren't directly asking for gifts.
Some retailers also offer to send announcement cards to anyone on your guest list — and Kohl's even offers a coupon with the announcement, as noted above.
A lot of traditions have come and gone, but the thank you note is still important. It's best to mail them out as soon as you receive a gift — it's easy to forget about them otherwise. Sending them within two weeks is also fine. And if you've asked for (or been given) cash as a gift, it's polite to include what you've spent it on in your note.
Readers, what registries did you use when you were getting married? Which stores do you think offer the best wedding registry perks? Let us know in the comments below!