Registry 101: 10 Tips for a Good Registry

After eight years helping brides register, I have some tips for what makes a registry work well, both from advice I would give brides and from the perspective of my customers/your guests. Since I worked in a cooking/dining type store, I can’t give specific advice about non-food related stuff, but here are my top 10 tips for a solid registry.

  • Register in a store. Or at least, check out your registry in a store. Some things may show up as “online only” when they’re actually available in a different configuration in a store. (For example, place settings are online/catalog, but the same pieces are available individually in the store; register for both the place settings and the pieces individually.) And many people prefer to see what they’re picking out for you—it’s frustrating as a guest to show up at a store ready to check that gift off your list, only to find out you can’t actually buy anything. So if you do register online, check out your registry in store ASAP. (And actually, same goes for registering in a flagship location, unless all your guests will only shop in flagship locations too—sometimes they have a larger assortment.)
  • Register for how you live—a standard place setting gives everyone a cup and saucer, but not everyone will use one. I had to talk a MOB down after her brilliant daughter registered for twelve of everything—and then six each of mugs and cups/saucers. And you may want extra salad plates to use for dessert without a mid-meal dish-washing break.
  • Think about what you’ll need for the life you hope to have in five to ten years. Do you have enough dishes for the two of you AND three kids? Will that slow cooker/food processor/roasting dish be big enough for the family? This is nothing new, but now’s your chance to upgrade.

  • Aim for big sets (things that have lots of parts like dishes, glasses, and flatware) first—things you need in many multiples. While you could ask for that set of towels for Christmas, you’ll be waiting a lot of holidays to get 12 place settings.
  • Think about your future. You probably aren’t hosting many dinner parties now, but will you? What would you need if you hosted Thanksgiving? This is your best chance to get all of those things, so even if you’ve never used a carving set before, think about whether you might want one later.
  • In fact, plan that Thanksgiving out—do you have enough dishes? Serving pieces? Serving utensils? Gravy boat?
  • Choose from one to three stores. (Choosing two works well for most couples.)
  • ‘Tis better to add than take away. Everyone wants to buy your toaster. Or the serving dish. Plates are boring, but if that’s what you need don’t add so much that people buy up everything EXCEPT your plates. So start with all the place settings and then add on the serving pieces as it looks like things will reasonably get bought. Otherwise, you might end up with five picture frames, a vegetable dish, a gravy boat, and some candle sticks.
  • Register for individuals and sets—you can register for that $500 All Clad set (you never know!), but also register for the pieces. You can always return the pieces and get the discounted set. I’m not suggesting you register for stuff you plan to return, just that you register for the five pieces in the set, and if you get four of them, return them all and buy the set, therefore ending up with the original four pots & pans you were gifted plus the fifth one, because that’s how set pricing works. And you can register for both the set and the pieces.
  • Don’t register for the same things at three stores. Your guests will notice, and it looks grabby. (Switch them from one registry to another based on price if you must—but I’ve heard of people getting a phone call from the store saying they should put that toaster they switched to their Macy’s registry back on because the price went down.)

What are your tips for registering?


Mrs. Clover

Wedding Date:
June 2014
Palette Alteration via BM Dress Dreaming
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  1. milkcow Bee
    Mrs. Milk Cow 216 posts, Helper bee @ 1:16 pm

    The online/in-store registry balance is definitely the hardest for us. I prefer buying things in the store, but many of our guests are out of town and will probably buy things online and have them shipped to us. I haven’t decided what a good balance is yet!

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Melinda Golden, Guest @ 5:03 pm

    You can also create a honeymoon registry. We did this and got a nice dinner out of it! We created a wedding website with links to all our registries.

  3. mswallaby Bee
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:27 pm

    This is really interesting – I never put much thought into sets of dishes and servingware, because we decided to keep the set of white dishes Mr. W already had. But now we entertain a lot more than when we were engaged, and I wish we had registered for more dishes and some barware (would love some champagne and martini glasses now haha). Great advice!

  4. Member
    missslipper 55 posts, Worker bee @ 9:03 pm

    Goodness! So much good info i never thought of! Going to register soon, a daunting task but not too bad the way you put it =D thanks!

  5. msclover Bee
    Mrs. Clover 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 6:33 am

    @Miss Milk Cow: I worked in a store, so obviously I saw all the store-purchasers, but I’m just now realizing I’m in similar shape–my entire family lives a plane ride away and will likely shape.

    @Mrs. Wallaby: It seems dumb to register for a billion dishes, but I’ve already upped ours from the 12 I said at first. Christmas this year was 8 people, and Mama Clover’s BF didn’t come, MOH Sis wasn’t back (that would be 10, 11 if she brings someone, and no one has kids yet). I didn’t register for any additional wine glasses, but BM Mathlete are making me reconsider my decision on that one.

    @MissSlipper: Its pretty fun (and you definitely don’t need to be as obsessive as I am!). I think planning NOT to finish in one day makes it a lot more bearable, because you can quit when you get sick of it or overwhelmed. Have fun!

  6. phonebooth Bee
    Mrs. Phone Booth 57 posts, Worker bee @ 7:55 pm

    Checking the registry in store was definitely something I didn’t expect to need to do but did on a whim. I’m so glad I did – there were so many items that weren’t really available in the store!

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