Making the Most of Your Wedding Registry

If you are engaged, one important task on your wedding to do list is to create a wedding registry.

You may spend a few hours with your fiance choosing a store to register for your wedding gifts and actually picking the items to appear on the list.  Some people find the process so overwhelming that they continue registering over the course of a few days.

If you are recently engaged and planning to create a wedding registry, here are a few tips to make the most of your registry:

Register at two stores

As a courtesy to your guest, keep in mind that people have varying budgets.  It is fine to register at a high end store, but if you only register there, the guests who have a limited budget will likely find many of the gifts out of reach.  If you also register at a more moderately priced store (think Target or Kohl’s, for example) you will likely have items that people can afford no matter their budget.

Buy doubles of the essentials

When we married over 10 years ago, we found an everyday plate set that we loved, and we asked for 8.  We got 8 plates, bowls, and mugs.  Fast forward to the present, and now, 3 kids and endless accidents later, we are down to about 3 large plates and 2 bowls.  We both love the set and wanted to replace the items that were broken, but the line has been discontinued.

Knowing what we know now, we would have asked for at least 16 of each item.

Avoid current trends

Ideally, the items you register for will last decades into your marriage, so picking classic colors and designs may be your best bet.  Orange seems to be a hot color now, but will orange be out of fashion 5 or 10 years from now?  You don’t want to be stuck with orange plates or worse, large kitchen items (like a Kitchen-Aid mixer, for example), that looks dated.  The Knot suggests you “add the trendier items as accents” (

Don’t feel obligated to register for expensive china

wedding registry tips

Plan out your wedding registry wisely and you can potentially have decades of use out of your gifts.

If you would like fancy china, by all means, register for it, but don’t feel you have to.

My mom loves her fine china, so she would pull it out for holiday dinners, but that just meant washing it before use and after (with fear of accidentally breaking a piece).  We also had to be so careful during the meal that I learned to dislike using fancy china.  It was not on my registry even though several people urged me to add it.

Another reason you may not want to register for your own china is that you hope a family set will be passed down to you.

Try to avoid too many personal items on the registry

The wedding registry should be comprised of items to help you set up a home, not necessarily for personal hobbies.

When my friend registered for her gifts, her fiancé felt everything on the registry was for her (even though it was basic everyday goods—cooking utensils, pots and pans, etc.), so he registered for some things he would like including a beer making kit as well as the refill kit and a keg-o-rator (like a refrigerator for a keg).

Needless to say, many guests weren’t pleased to see those items.

Consider stepping outside the box and asking for cash

Generally, asking for cash is bad form, but there are a number of websites that have popped up that offer you the chance to register for cash to help fund your honeymoon or down payment on your house.

Alternatives include sites like Feather Our Nest (but be careful because there is a $300 fee if you don’t use one of their realtors) and Our Wishing Well (which also has steep fees of 5.95% to 10% per transaction).

However, be careful with this option not only because of the fees involved but because you run the risk of offending your guests who may not like the idea of the bride and groom specifically asking for cash.


Wedding registries may seem like a lot of work—you have to choose the store and then the items, being careful to choose what you want in a variety of price ranges for all guests.

However, if you choose wisely, the items you receive can last you decades into your marriage.  Some people may want to request cash, but be careful both in asking and in using some of the sites that have popped up to handle such requests.  You may find a great deal of your gift money disappears in fees.

What tips would you offer couples setting up a wedding registry?

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Published or updated August 6, 2012.


  1. We will likely be asking for cash to help my girlfriend pay her student loans down. We wont be having many guests, mostly family, so if they aren’t comfortable with that they don’t have to get us anything.

    • Perhaps people would be more comfortable if they knew the reason you wanted cash? I would be happy to give cash as my gift if I knew the couple was using it to get rid of debt, especially student loan debt.

  2. I registered this weekend. So overwhelming. I feel bad asking for things which made it difficult.

    • I agree. It’s a strange thing to ask for a gift. But the truth is marriage is an awesome union and people do like to help a couple start off on the right foot. I think a registry provides a framework for your friends and family to help you start off your life together.

  3. I was really excited to register, but after 2 hours in bed bath and beyond, I had had enough. The rest we did online.

    We registered for everything we needed, and also some other things we wanted. But we got requests from people that they didn’t want to buy anything on the registry and we should put more stuff on it. Um…ok. So we added some more expensive items that we didn’t actually want (like a deep fryer, an ice cream maker, etc), and when we received them, we exchanged them for the things we really needed: linens and decorations around the house.

    • That’s a clever way to get around the situation, as long as Aunt Betty doesn’t ask if you can make her ice cream with your ice cream maker. 🙂

  4. Mo' Money Mo' Houses says:

    Damn I’m such a sucker for any post wedding related lol. I definitely think part of our registry will be cash donations because why not? I wouldn’t feel weird giving a newly married couple cash for their registry so why maybe others will feel the same. Thanks for all these tips!

  5. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says:

    I like when people ask for fun things (board games and crock pots) something that is exciting to purchase as a guest. Towels aren’t that fun and you can use the cash you got at your wedding to fill in the gaps.

  6. We just got married and are so happy we didn’t register for china (like my mom was pushing for!) we actually used – basically an online cash wedding registry. For the most part people loved it, but my aunt (no idea how to use internet) was a little confused.

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