Wedding Registry Dos and Don'ts

By Rachel Wilkerson,

Ah, the gift registry. Depending on who you ask, this staple of the modern wedding is either the best thing in the world...or completely evil. Some couples love it, while others are made extremely uncomfortable by it. Guests may think it's great...or believe it's tacky and filled with ridiculous expectations. It's enough to make any couple go crazy, but here are our tips for using the registry, whether you're the bride-to-be or a wedding guest.

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DO register for items at all different price points; DON'T register at a single (read: expensive) store. The biggest thing guests hate about registries is when the couple makes the options feel limited. Make sure you hit a couple stores, and DO try to choose at least one that is located in most of your guests' hometowns (like Target) so they aren't forced to deal with $20 shipping costs for the $20 item they want to buy you.

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If a registry makes you feel icky but your mom is insisting you have to have one, DO meet her halfway. Register for a few items that you really would use, but keep the registry info off your wedding website. Then your mom (or anyone close to you) can let guests know through word of mouth about the registry if they ask about it, but you won't put pressure on friends who are stressed about money.


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If you're going to do a honeymoon registry or something less traditional, DO know that not all guests like these types of registries. So register for a few items at a big box retailer as well; guests often just want to feel like they have a choice.

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If you're having a bunch of pre-wedding events, DON'T make them about the gifts. Turn a wedding shower into a bridal luncheon and make sure the host lets guests know that it's about the company, not the gifts. Same goes for engagement parties and bachelorette parties; the main activity of each event doesn't have to be opening presents.

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If you're a guest, DO know that couples sometimes register for expensive items because some of their relatives may want to splurge on them. Just because they registered for silver doesn't mean they expect you, their broke college friend, to buy it. Also, most stores offer a couple a discount on items on their registry that no guests buy. So they may be registering for the expensive stand mixer with the full intention on buying it for themselves with 15 percent off after the wedding; they probably aren't expecting to receive everything on their list.

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Speaking of word of mouth, DO rely on close friends and family to hint to guests about what you really want. It's not cool to put "No registry; we'd prefer cash!" on your invitations but it's totally fine for your maid of honor to casually mention that when she's chatting with mutual friends about your wedding.

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If you've been invited to a wedding, DON'T skip out because you can't afford a gift. DO know that it's OK to go off the registry -- or to not bring a gift at all! Wedding gifts are never required; if money is tight or you don't know the couple well, it's absolutely fine to not give a gift. (But DON'T forget to send a card or a heartfelt letter; it's an inexpensive way to show you care and it will mean a lot to the bride and groom.

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