Registry Etiquette: The Dos and Don'ts

Weddings can be a minefield of traditions, taboos and tough-talking grandmothers who disapprove of the more modern aspects of your wedding. Registries fall into a particularly tough area of wedding customs, as many couples feel a bit hesitant about what to add to them, while other are guilty having one at all. If you’re uncertain about the registry etiquette, here are a few dos and don’ts to help you steer clear of any wedding faux pas.


Absolutely Do Not:

– Go overboard. Only use two or three of your favourite stores for your registry.
– Only use local, speciality stores. Think about your out-of-town guests and include at least one national store that’s available online.
– Underestimate the basics. An ice cream maker sound like fun but will you ever use it?
– Force your registry on your guests. The guest ultimately decides what to give you, and it may not be anything from your list. Embracing the idea of some ‘surprise’ gifts can bring a little fun and excitement to the day and coming to terms with it before it happens will mean that you can focus on the positive aspects of the gifts, rather than dwelling on the fact that they didn’t pick something from the registry.
– Send thank you notes via email or over the phone.
– Close your registry early. Leave it open for a few weeks after you get married, or when you return from honeymoon, for those guests who may be late in getting you a gift.
– Feel guilty. If you don’t want a registry, then you don’t have to have one.

Absolutely Do:

– Make a list before you register. See what you have, what you need and what you’d love on your wish list.
– Register in a timely fashion. Four to six months before you get married is enough notice for your guests, if they want to buy you a present.
– Include traditional and non-traditional items (your great-aunt might feel more comfortable buying you crockery than a tent, but your slightly, ah, unorthodox uncle from the other side of the family might feel more comfortable doing the opposite).
– Ensure that you cover prices, to suit all budgets.
– Add more gifts than you need, so that there are a variety of options to choose from, and include sets and individual items.
– Review your register every few weeks and then more regularly closer to the wedding, so that you can add more gift ideas if necessary.
– Write your thank you notes as soon as possible and get the groom to help you.

The Grey Areas (AKA What You Can Get Away With)

– Including your registry details with your invitation. Custom claims that it should strictly be word of mouth, but modern couples are including it as a separate insert with the invitation (like an separate RSVP card) or as a link on their wedding website.
– Asking for money. This used to be frowned upon but attitudes are beginning to change. If you’d rather have money for your honeymoon or house fund, you can set up an online cash registry and ask for donations instead of a gift, or set up a ‘wishing well’ (an ornate box where people donate money) at your reception on your wedding day itself.
There are many people who feel a bit weird about putting together a list of things that they would like you to buy for them. If you share this sentiment then you can forgo a registry altogether, or ask for a donation to a particular charity instead. But registries do serve a very useful purpose: they are a practical and convenient way for guests to buy you something that they know you’ll like and use. It also prevents you from getting five toasters.
Whether you have a gift registry or not, the chances are great that you’ll still end up with 24 martini glasses, a yoghurt maker or angel figurines! It’s important to remember that a wedding gift isn’t a prerequisite, so accept all your presents graciously and enthusiastically, and then research yogurt-making recipes online.