Wedding Registry Do’s and Dont’s

You’ve got that registry gun thingy ready to go! Because when will you get another chance to walk into a department store and indulge your every whim without worrying about the price? But more than just the ultimate shopping trip, setting up a registry is an efficient way to let guests know what kind of gift you actually want. A registry also keeps track of who bought what and reduces the chance of receiving those hideous pieces that you can’t imagine anyone would want! Even if you already have all the household items you need, registering is helpful for guests who want to get you something but need some extra guidance.

Don’t Go Crazy

You only need to register at two or three stores you love. Choose a national department store or chain that has lots of household basics; add a local specialty store if you want to. For your guests’ sake, you may want to choose stores that are low-, medium-, and high-end, so that there are gifts in a variety of price ranges to choose from.

Do Register Ahead of Time

Try to complete your registry a few months before the wedding. This will give guests time to purchase gifts for the big day, but also for your engagement and a shower.

Don’t Put it in Your Invitation

Once you have registered, give the information to immediate family and the wedding party, and let them spread the word. If you are asked where you have registered, it is fine for you to tell, but it is not proper to include registry information in a wedding invitation. Registry information can be included on a wedding website, as long as the actual name of the store is not included on the same layer; organize your website so that guests must click down one level to find the details.

Do Register for Enough Gifts

Register for more gifts than you have guests, so there will be plenty of items to choose from. As mentioned above, register for gifts in a wide range of prices, or choose individual items rather than sets, as with pots and pans, for instance. It is fine to put a few expensive items on your registry, but balance them with equally lovely options that are more affordable.

Don’t Ask for Money

While it’s still considered tacky to ask for money directly, financial registries try to make this less awkward; for example, couples can now register online for stocks, honeymoon expenses, and even toward a down payment on a house.

Do write Thank You Notes Right Away

If your registry doesn’t automatically notify you when a gift has been purchased, review your registry every few weeks, and more frequently as the wedding approaches. Use your updated registry to help you keep up with writing thank-you notes.

Don’t Limit Yourself

Registry expert Mary Rose Gearon offers the following advice: “Don’t think just about your lifestyle as it is today. You’ll be entertaining more in the years to come, so create a wish list of items: a platter for your first Thanksgiving dinner or champagne glasses for a New Year’s toast. Keep those special occasions in mind; it’s a wonderful way to include loved ones in those important milestones.”

Don’t Forget to Register for the Basics

Funky bedspreads and whimsical wall hangings are well and good, but don’t forget the more useful – though duller – basics, such as measuring cups, can openers, garlic press, spatulas, kitchen timer, mixing bowls, knives, cookware, storage containers, etc.

Do Write Thank-You Notes Right Away

Ideally, you should acknowledge every present immediately; writing a note the day you receive it is best, but sending it within two weeks is also acceptable. Of course, the period surrounding your wedding is a busy time; if you fall behind, just make every effort to send a thank you as soon as you can — but no later than three months after the event.

Don’t Worry if You Don’t Get Everything on Your Registry

If you don’t receive everything you registered for, don’t fret. Many stores have a completion program, which offers a discount on remaining items, or will keep the registry active for anywhere from a few months to a few years, so friends and relatives can continue to purchase gifts from it as other joyous occasions arise.

Do Mix-and-Match China

You can choose a variety of differnt patterns (for example, one for dinner plates, one for salad plates, and one for soup bowls) as long as there is a common theme that pulls them all together, such as a unifying color. In the photo below, the underlying celadon shade, delicate details, and gold embellishments — make these pieces perfect dining companions.

See more examples of mix-n-matched place settings here.

Do Include a Charitable Organization

It seems more and more brides and grooms are building charitable giving into their wedding plans, whether to honor a loved one who would have been part of their special day or simply because their own cabinets and closets are already well equipped. “Whatever the reason, incorporating charitable giving into their wedding lets couples share what’s important to them,” says Bethany Robertson, executive director of the I Do Foundation, a group that sets up such registries. Read more here.


  1. Good tips, thank you. Instead of having your bridal party and immediate family spread the word about your registry, I think it’s also okay to e-mail the information. I just received an eCard from with a link to my co-workers gift list…and I thought this was a new and tactful way of giving out her registry info.

  2. Elizabeth Nichols says:

    I agree that you should have a least one major department store for your wedding registry. I also made the mistake of including a card in my invite…

  3. When I got married I wish I had known about these wedding registry mistakes.I made silly errors that I wish I could take back. Please take this information to heart. Good Luck and best wishes!