Gifts and Registries
Emma Margeaux Bride Online Columnist

How to: Set Up Your Wedding Registry

Deciding what to put on your wedding registry is one of the most exciting tasks of planning your wedding, as it’s the first tangible glimpse you have into married life with your loved one. But like every other aspect of the wedding, it’s a process that needs careful forethought and planning. So we’ve written up a foolproof guide for setting up your registry!

Get Started Early

Many  like to get the task of buying the couple's gift out of the way as soon as possible- especially those living overseas, are particularly busy, or whom might want to spoil you with a naughty extra gift(!). This means that you'll need to begin putting together you registry list early on. If you're having an engagement party or bridal shower, try to have at least a few items specified a month beforehand. This list doesn't need to be at all comprehensive- many, if fact, prefer to add and edit as they go. If this is your sort of style, do make sure that there's a wide disparity in price range for the gifts listed, so as not to make your guests feel financially pressured. 

A long list won't look self indulgent to your guests- in fact, it gives your guests flexibility and room to play around with your potential gifts. You should include at least as many items as there are guests, to show that there's no significant time or financial pressure to buy your gifts. That being said, don't include items for the sake of bulking up the list- this will simply mean time wasted returning the gifts. If worst comes to worst, your guests simply won't buy the items you've specified. And who doesnt love a surprise now and again?

All in the Details

When including items on the registry, be sure to be specific about which item you're referring to. To play it safe, it's worth including:

  • The brand name
  • The model number or name
  • The colour
  • The size
  • The quantity required
  • And if necessary, where it can be found

However if you aren’t too fussed on the brand or model you can help the guests by being a little more descriptive. Instead of putting ‘toaster’ why not put ‘toaster – 4 slice’. This'll allow your guests to insert a bit of their own personality within the parameters you've set, allow them to pay exactly what they'd like for it, and you'll be more likely to think of the gift- giver whenever you use the item.  

Make a Personal Appearance

Organising your wedding registry is incredibly convenient, and today the most common method of putting your list together. Be sure, however, to visit the shop at which you're registered in person, and have an inspection of the store' s goods. Look closely at the quality, craftmanship, and if all copies of the one piece are consistent. Physically checking the items may influence adding some pieces on to your list that you previously disregarded, or even taking some items that you're not satisfied with off. 

Get Flexible

Keep an eye the wares you've chosen. If you find that they've been sold out or discontinued, replace them with a similar item, or register for the original item elsewhere. 

Where to Set Up Camp

Try to pick out two to three stores that have a wide variety of items you love. A great idea is to include at least one department store, so that your friends and family will be able to access one of the stores irrespective of where they are in the country. Department stores often also have advanced online systems, so even if they don't live in the country, they should be able to hop online and buy the selected as easily. 

Another great idea is to set up a registry at a specialty shop, such as an antiques store. If they don't have a registry system in place, try speaking to the manager. More shops than not are willing and able to accommodate your needs, and it never hurts to enquire. 

For Those Lucky Few Who Have It Made

If, however, you're pretty much set for all your homeware needs (as increasingly, couples are living together and setting up house before they're married), there are several alternatives. 

  •  A honeymoon registry. Many online websites let you itemise honeymoon costs and rebrand them as 'potential gifts- part of your airfare, tourist activites, a night in a deluxe hotel- you name it!
  •  A charity registry. Pick one or a few charities close to you and your partner's hearts. A great option for the couple who has everything.
  • A homebuyer's registry. Like the honeymoon registry, you can divide up itsems needed to create or decorate your dream home. A great way to ensure price disparity, as installing a new cat flap, for example, will cost far less than a new window. 
  • A foodie registry. Have you got a miniture foodie snob inside you, dying to get out and experimental, but lack the funds? Well, you've just been introduced to that snob's lifesaver. 
  • A local lifestyle registry. This is perfect for the couple who'd like to get out and experience more day to day culture- where that includes learning a new language, taking a cooking course, or whatever else strikes your fancy. 
  • A wishing well. Although it's still considered taboo to ask outright for money, a wishing well is a perfectly acceptable way to ask for gift donations. Usually, an elaborate box in the shape of a wishing well is placed, and cheques or cash are placed into it. This can be done either anonymously, or one may include an envelope with a card in addition to the money. 

Making Use Of the Grapevine

Modern wedding etiquette discourages one from including their registry details on one's invitations, but it is an increasingly common trend to include this information anyway. The Emily Post approved method, however, is to simply spread the information via word of mouth. Use your family and closest friends to pass on this information (somewhat) discreetly to the rest of your guests. If someone asks you outright where you're registered, feel free to tell them!

After the Wedding

Most stores offering registry services are willing to keep the registry open for up to around a year after the wedding. This means that you'll still be able to update your list for those guests who are buying your gifts a little later down the track. Many of these stores are additionally willing to offer the bride and groom a small discount on the remaining items once the registry's expired (usually around 10%). Hooray for sales and presents!

Be sure to keep a record of what gifts you receive and from whom so that you can write thank you letters afterwards.


  • Don't be afraid to wander into the realm of unconventional if the item reflects you as a couple, or you simply think you'll get great use out of it!
  • Don't exclude traditional gifts. There are many who don't see gift's you probably need and will appreciate as traditionally appropriate for the inherent 'nest- building' nature of the registry. To keep everybody happy, be sure to include traditional items such as appliances, kitchen linens and towels.
  • Don't include any personal items. No, this isn't simply a good opportunity to snag those Louboutin heels you've been eyeing!
  • Wait to use all the items that have arrived early after the wedding. If, Heaven forbid, anything should happen wherein the wedding is called off, you'll have to return the items. This is significantly harder to do if your wooden cheesboard has clear cut marks embedded in it.
  • Write personalised, thoughtful, and prompt thank you notes.  Emails and calls don't count. Keep a log on paper, on the computer, or online describing whom gave what for later reference.  

Creating you perfect registry can help ensure that the start of your new life together is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. So get organised now to enjoy the first fruits of your wedding!

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