Congratulations! You found the man, you got the ring and you’ve set a date. Now it’s time to start registering. What seems like a really fun activity to do with your groom can be a little overwhelming if you don’t do your research beforehand.
1. Keep a balanced plate
This is one of the few times in your life you get to put together a list of gifts and ask people for these gifts. While you may only want to register for top of the line everything, it’s important to include gifts at a variety of price points. Each wedding is different, but you’ll want to include some smaller items (anywhere from $5 – $25) that can be bought on their own or also bundled together to make a larger gift. Try and the majority of your gifts should be under $100-$150, but don’t feel like you can’t ask for some splurge-worthy items as well. Just make sure these are high quality items you’ll use for a long time and not just a trend that will be tossed to the side within a year.
Along these same lines, you’ll want to include both practical and impractical items on the list. It’s absolutely OK to ask for a set of crystal vases, but balance that out with everyday essentials. As you want your guests to feel like they are buying things you’ll be using frequently, a good rule of thumb is to keep 75% of your registry to practical, good quality items.
2. Plan for the future, not today
Keep in mind that most likely the home you’re living in now is not your forever home so what may look great in your living room now may not necessarily work in your next house. Stick to neutrals and classic pieces that will last throughout the years. Before you register, take inventory of what you and your fiance currently have, what items you would like to replace or upgrade and what you need. This will help you build a base for where to start when you hit the stores.
If you are registering at multiple places, it may make sense to keep a spreadsheet of what you’ve registered at each store so you aren’t registering for 10 sets of towels (unless you think you’ll need those 10 sets of course). Keep in mind when registering for linens, china and every day dishes, you’ll want to register for enough that will allow you to have complete sets when you have guests and entertain in the future. At least 8 place settings and 4 sets of linens is a good start.
3. Practice the art of compromise
Asking your groom to spend 2-3 hours picking out linens and china may not be exactly at the top of his list of things to do on a Saturday afternoon. Have in mind a few “man-friendly” items to register for that he can get excited about (think grill accessories, a smoker etc.).
Don’t get upset if your groom doesn’t have an opinion on what type of towels to choose and vice versa, don’t get upset if his opinion doesn’t agree with yours. You may have had your heart set on an ultra girly china pattern, but this is something you’ll be using for years to come so it’s important to choose a pattern you’ll both love. Plus, marriage is all about compromise and this is a great exercise in compromise.
4. Make it a date night activity
Although online registering is incredibly convenient, it’s a good idea to go to the actual store first because you can’t test the thickness of towels or softness or sheets online. You can always add to your registry online later.
Make sure to allow more time than you think you’ll need to register so you aren’t rushed and don’t go registering on an empty stomach. Fuel up before you go and even think about bringing along water and snacks. Wearing comfortable shoes is also a good idea because you will be making several laps around the store. Once you’re finished treat yourselves to a nice dinner!
5. Don’t open till wedding day
Once you’ve finalized your registry, don’t peek! You’ll want to be surprised at your showers and at your wedding so ask your maid of honor or mother to monitor your registry for out of stock items and to let you know if you need to make any changes.
6. Think outside the box
If you are feeling limited with the traditional registries (Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel etc.) there are a handful of sites out there that allow you to have one registry with multiple stores.
- Simpleregistry.com allows you to register for anything, anywhere including non-tangible things like cooking classes, indoor skydiving sessions or a donation to a favorite charity.
- BlueprintRegistry.com offers you the ability to create an ultimate wedding wish list based on the layout of your home. By using the home’s blueprint to organize your wedding registry (as opposed to a traditional list format), you can better visualize your needs as you shop room by room.You are able to shop from well-known retailers like Amazon, Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and West Elm as well as a collection of unique items from select boutiques and designers.
- With IDoFoundation.org you can either choose to create a registry for direct donations to a selected charity or an “I Do” gift registry, which partners with traditional registry stores such as Macy’s, Tiffany & Co., Bloomingdales and Restoration Hardware to donate up to 3 percent of the spending on your gift registry to your selected charity.
When it’s all said and done the most important thing is to be gracious of the gifts you receive and send thank you’s promptly with a sincere note to each sender.
Rachel Geeser is a Chicago newlywed who can’t remember a time when she didn’t love weddings. As editor of An Eventful Life she writes about fashion, food, entertaining & DIY projects. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.