The Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Registries

The wedding registry can be a confusing and touchy subject for both the bride and her guests. Brides might wonder: Do I have to register? What if I don’t really need household things? Are there other alternatives? Of course the guests have their own questions? Do I have to buy something on the registry? How much do I need to spend? If I bought an engagement gift, do I also have buy a wedding present?

I was reading All About RegistriesQ&A at the Washington Post, moderated by Summer Krecke, deputy editor at Although there are some things that she claims to be standard registry etiquette, quite a few brides and guests feel differently. Here are some common questions and answers, adapted from the All About Registries Q&A.

Q. Why do I need to create a gift registry?

A. Registries help guide guests. Gift giving shouldn’t be stressful for guests who don’t know exactly what a couple wants. Gift giving is supposed to be a point of pleasure and joy. The guest wants to give something they know the couple will love!

Q. We’re just not a thing-oriented couple. For our own wedding, we’d really like to avoid the whole gift thing altogether How can we get that word out without being tacky or rude?

A. Alternative registries like or Cloud 9 Living (where you register for activities) are totally acceptable. Other ideas are honeymoon or activity registry, which includes things you’d love to experience like a hot air balloon ride, horseback riding, or spa treatment. Another popular trend is creating a charity registry ( you can do this at But not having a registry is really not a good idea, because it leaves people without a clue as to what you want.

Q. How does the charity registry work? It sounds like a fabulous idea!

A. You can go to WeddingChannel.comand set up a charity registry. You will find an entire list of popular charities to choose from. You can either request a direct donation or create a regular registry and every time a guest purchases a gift through, a percentage is sent to the charity in your honor.

Q. I think that asking for money — in any way — be it honeymoon fund, house fund, etc. — is just tacky with a capital T.

A. Correct: asking for money is a big NO-NO. If you would prefer money, it’s OK to share that information privately with people like your bridesmaids so they can pass the message along. You should still create a registry for those guests that aren’t comfortable giving money and prefer to give you an actual present.

Q. Two of my very close friends are getting hitched, and their registry is full of blah things like glassware and dust busters. I want to get them something more personal, but is it uncouth to ignore the registry if they’ve taken the time to put it together?

A. If you are absolutely certain your personal gift with thrill the new couple, go right ahead! But if you are uncertain,stick to something on the registry and add a personal touch. If they’re registered for a beautiful frame, buy it and add a great photo. A wine glass set? Get them a case of their favorite wine to go along with it!

Q. Do I really need to make purchases for the engagement, the bridal shower and the wedding? I’ve been invited to a series of parties for a number of friends, and every invite I receive to these events contain their registry information! I wish I could buy you that $400 vacuum, but I can’t even buy one for myself.

A. Gifts are not necessary for an engagement party. A card or bottle of wine would be great! If you are invited to a wedding you should give a gift, but give what you can. The most important thing when creating a gift registry (and I do think couples should have them as an assist to their guests) is to have gifts ranging from $5 to whatever you think is appropriate. Make sure you have inexpensive options.

Q. I’m traveling to be the best man in my friend’s wedding. I am spending lots of time and money to travel to the party. What is an appropriate gift for my friend… or is my presence presents enough?

A. Being in a wedding can involve lots of extra expenses. Perhaps you could pool with a bigger group to purchase something really nice for the bride and groom. You might want to discuss it with other members of the bridal party and see what you can come up with.

Q. Is it acceptable to include registry info in a wedding invitation?

A. Registry info should not be included in your invitation and instead should be supplied on your wedding website or through someone in your bridal party. It is completely unacceptable to include registry information with an invitation to any event other than a shower!

Q. As a future bride, I feel that  gifts are completely OPTIONAL, whether or not you attend the wedding. Don’t you think most friends just want to celebrate with you? I would rather have my friend’s presence than their presents!

A. This is not a black and white issue — a guest should measure her involvement and expenses against her relationship with the couple.


  1. Dena,

    Thank you for mentioning the honeymoon registry – an increasingly mainstream registry option for engaged couples.

    It is great to see how popular the honeymoon registry is becoming. When Traveler’s Joy first started accepting Members over four years ago, we realized there was a large number of engaged couples that were not satisfied with the diversity of the traditional wedding registry market. Since then, the honeymoon registry has become a mainstream option for brides and grooms and the industry has experienced significant growth.

    We are proud to have helped thousands of couples travel to destinations they may never have considered – a great feeling for everyone at Traveler’s Joy.

    I encourage you to contact us with any questions about our service. Most importantly, enjoy your honeymoon!

    Best Regards,

    Brandon Warner
    President & Co-founder
    Traveler’s Joy Honeymoon Registry
    Traveler’s Joy, Inc.