What Is a Wedding Registry?

This service lets you sign up for all types of gifts, whether you want cash, a coffee maker, or charitable donations.
greeting card and gifts

Wedding season used to basically run all summer long, but last year the most popular wedding date was actually October 19. That is to say, there's not necessarily a wedding "season" anymore, though summer is still a favored time for these events.

If you're saying "I do" soon, then odds are you'll want to make a wedding registry. And if you're going to be a guest, you'll want to buy a meaningful item for the newlyweds, whether you're attending a wedding in person or viewing a virtual ceremony via Zoom. So how does a wedding registry work, exactly? Check out our guide to the different kinds of online wedding registries and how to shop them below.

What Is a Wedding Registry?

A wedding registry is a list of preferred gifts that a couple puts together before their wedding. It's sometimes called a bridal registry. This service is widely known, and is offered by retailers and websites alike.

Where to Register for a Wedding

These days, wedding registries go far beyond standard department store fare. Yours can be as specific or as broad as you want! Learn about four popular types of wedding registries below.

Multi-Store Registries

Gone are the days of having to create registries at multiple stores. You certainly can go this route if you want to, but if you'd rather streamline the process, look to sites like Amazon, Zola, and Blueprint for one-and-done registration.

Multi-store wedding registries let you add items from a variety of sellers or virtual storefronts.

Multi-store registries allow you to add items from a variety of sellers or virtual storefronts. These sites also offer exclusive items; plus, you can let guests donate money to go toward your honeymoon fund, or travel in general.

Big Box Stores

Target and Walmart are classics here for a reason. They're already 1-stop shops for groceries and home items, and they're pretty much everywhere. Your guests will likely have one — if not both — nearby, and therefore at least be familiar with them.

Honeymoon Registries

If you and your partner can't think of any items to register for, consider doing a honeymoon registry instead. Sites like The Knot and Honeyfund allow you to create cash registries for funding your honeymoon.

Traveler's Joy is another honeymoon registry site that's worth considering during these uncertain times. It allows you to keep honeymoon gifts in your account for up to two years, and its tools let U.S. users register for items and experiences closer to home.

Charity Registries

Want to use your wedding as an excuse to give back? Then register to have your guests donate to a charity of your choice. The Knot offers its "Gifts Back" program, which allows you to receive gifts and donate to a good cause. Select your charity, create and share your registry, and The Knot will donate up to 3% of all qualifying gifts to your chosen charity.

Guests can donate to a charity of your choice through The Knot Gifts Back, JustGiving, and the SoKind Registry.

Couples can also use sites like JustGiving to create a fundraiser to celebrate their wedding. You pick your cause, and then your guests donate to that in lieu of providing gifts. There's also the SoKind Registry, which allows you to encourage "the giving of homemade gifts, charitable donations, secondhand goods, experiences, time, day-of-event help, and more" with your registry.

How to Make a Wedding Registry

Years ago, if you wanted to register for items from multiple stores, you had to set up a registry at every store and scan the items on your list. While that's still a common practice, the process has become easier, thanks to registry services that are more comprehensive. They might not be as fun as going through a store and scanning all the things, but registering for gifts at home in pajamas could be much more relaxing.

Most online wedding registries are pretty self-explanatory, and the process is fairly similar across all the different sites. Here are the steps you'll likely have to take to make a wedding registry:

  1. Click on a button to "create a registry"; you'll probably have to create an account, unless you have one already.
  2. Answer pertinent questions related to the event — like the date, location, and your and your partner's names.
  3. Begin adding items to your registry.
  4. Once you're done, share with your guests where you've registered, so they can shop for your big day.

How to Shop a Wedding Registry

Shopping a wedding registry is even easier than creating one — and that's a pretty simple process itself! Navigate to the website where the couple has registered, and search. You'll usually have to click a button like "find a registry" or "find a couple" in order to hunt down the registry you're looking for. Once you do, though, you can look at the items the couple needs and choose which ones you want to buy.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Buying Guide

One of the good things about online registries is you can opt to have gifts shipped directly to the couple. Or you can have the products shipped to you, so you can wrap them and present them with a pretty package. Some sites may also offer gift-wrapping for an additional charge. Whether you're gifting in person or shipping directly to the couple, we recommend including a gift receipt; that should make any returns they might have easier.

Readers, have you created an online wedding registry? Is there anything you'd do differently now? Let us know in the comments below!

Julie Ramhold
Senior Staff Writer/Consumer Analyst

Julie's work has been featured on CNBC, GoBankingRates, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, Money, The New York Times, Real Simple, US News, WaPo, WSJ, Yahoo!, and more. She's extolled the virtues of DealNews in interviews with Cheddar TV, GMA, various podcasts, and affiliates across the United States, plus one in Canada.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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