Wedding Registry Decoded: Top Tips from Wedding Pros

In years past, creating your wedding registry was as simple as heading to your favorite store, picking up one of their registry scanners, and shopping the aisles with your future life together in mind. However, with the rise of online registries and an increase in the average marrying age, many couples are finding new ways to share their newlywed wish lists with loved ones.

If you’re in the process of creating a wedding registry, follow these seven tips to keep it practical and accessible for your guests.

Cover all the price points.

While it may be your dream to see all of the big-ticket items checked off your registry, be mindful that your guests’ budgets vary and include a number of different price points. 

“It is important to ensure you have some lower ticketed items on your list, so guests who might have a smaller budget can still find items that align with the amount they were hoping to spend,” says Kelley Nudo of Momental Designs.

Though Nudo adds, “on the flip side, do not hesitate to register for some high ticket items as well, because there might be some guests that plan to go together on one large gift and would appreciate having some items to choose from.”

So while you consider the big gifts you want to include, think about smaller everyday additions as well — household items like kitchen tools, trash cans, and cleaning supplies may seem mundane, but they will undoubtedly come in handy throughout married life.

Opt for versatility.

When you think about a wedding registry, you may picture all of these wonderful things you want but wouldn’t buy for yourself. The espresso machine, the high-tech exercise bike, the 16-piece crystal glassware set — while all are lovely to have, wedding photographer Lynne Reznick encourages couples to think about their registry differently.

“Skip the super fancy china that you’ll only pull out once or twice a year and instead register for one great set of everyday dishware,” she recommends. “Choose a style that can work for a dinner party but is also microwave and dishwasher safe, making it perfect for everyday use. You’ll get so much more pleasure out of using the pieces daily instead of finding a place to store them safely for most of the year.”

Beyond versatility’s sake, filling your registry with everyday essentials means you’ll have more reminders of your wedding day and all those who celebrate your love!

Don’t be shy about requesting cash.

As the average marrying age increases, many couples find that they don’t need much of what goes on a traditional registry. In many cases, they’ve lived together for a while and have already filled their homes with everything they need. 

If that’s the case, consider asking your guests for cash! Don’t worry — it’s not a tacky move as it was once viewed. Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss confirms as much, noting, “Remember when asking for money was as taboo as meeting your spouse online? Many great options exist for gifting money, experiences, or an amazing honeymoon today.”

As for how to ask gracefully, “sites like Birdie are essentially a classy version of Venmo geared towards weddings,” Sheils says. “The best part? Guests pay the processing fee, just as they would pay for shipping on a gift or a special fee to gift wrap. It’s a win-win!”

Focus on experiences.

If you don’t need tangible gifts but aren’t inclined to ask for cash, “consider creating an experience registry,” recommends Julie Comfort of The Experiential Wedding

Comfort offers a few examples, noting, “you can register for a date night in for $50 (takeout and movie rental) or a date night out (nice dinner at your favorite restaurant) for $100, a weekend getaway to your favorite nearby town for $300, or they can contribute a bigger experience like a vacation, workshop, or home improvement project.”

That way, guests can still give a gift (because you know they want to!) without needing to collect household items you don’t need or have awkward conversations about money.

Pick a charity in lieu of gifts.

For those who don’t need (or want) wedding gifts, a charity donation is a perfect way to allow guests to celebrate your love without personally accepting anything.

Mango Muse Events’ Jamie Chang explains, “Many couples don’t want or need gifts, but there will be guests who want to give a gift no matter what. So setting up a charity registry can be a great idea. You can either work with an actual registry or share a few causes and organizations that you like and support. This gives your guests a good option to give something in your honor, and it helps support a cause you care about.”

Discuss with your partner to select a charity or two that you can note on your invitations and wedding website, pointing guests to contribute directly on your behalf.

Skip the registry altogether.

Alternatively, some couples are skipping the registry altogether — especially when they know attending their wedding requires an investment of their time and money. (Hello, destination weddings!)

“If you’re having a destination wedding, consider the cost of your guests’ travel arrangements, and coordinate your registry accordingly,” suggests Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group. “Many destination wedding couples opt for no registry at all and simply tell their guests that their presence is a present enough.”

If you opt for this route, make it clear on your invitation and website. However, accept that some guests may choose to get you a wedding gift anyways. So be gracious and thank them for their thoughtfulness!

Regardless of what you add to your wedding registry and receive, don’t forget the most important step: thank you cards! But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait until the deed is done to send them out.

“Wedding etiquette dictates that you should write a thank you note to thank people for the gift, not for attending the wedding,” reveals Megan Estrada of NSWE Events. “This means that if someone sends you a gift from your registry, you can send them a thank you note right away and get it over with before they even attend the wedding.”

As for day-of cards, Estrada notes, “If you receive cash at the wedding, make sure you put what you used it for in the note. For example, if the cash they gave you went towards a new gas grill for your backyard, tell them about it in the thank you note!”

Whether you’re starting newlywed life with an empty home or not, these tips will help you create a wedding registry that suits your preferences and keeps your guests’ needs at the forefront.

Cover Image by Manda Weaver Photography

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.