How to Create the Perfect Wedding Gift Registry

15 small boxes wrapped in colorful paper with bows.

Your wedding gift registry is a pretty amazing thing: it’s a chance to help those who love you to pick things you really want as gifts, and it’s a chance to ask for a lot of nice items that you might not buy otherwise. However, crafting a great registry is a good way to ensure people feel appreciated at your wedding while also getting you wonderful, appropriate gifts (if they choose to do so). Here are some ways to think carefully about that registry.

Inventory What You Don’t Need as a Wedding Gift

Many people see visions of flannel sheets and beautiful cutlery dancing in their heads when they think about a registry, but one way to scale yourselves back is to look at what you already have. Unless you and your spouse-to-be are really quite young, chances are that you’ve gathered at least a few housewares that don’t need replacing. When you consider the items generally included on registries, try to cross off a few of them that you know you don’t need. This will help you do two things: not get overwhelmed and add items you don’t even want, and focus on quality with the things you do want.

Plan General Ideas Before You Visit a Store to Register

A man and woman sitting on a couch in a decorated living room going over the wedding gift registry online.

Many of us lose our perspective at the prospect of scanning items once in the store…and that doesn’t yield the best wedding gift options. Do your best to outline what you want (two sets of queen-sized sheets, for example) and pick brands and patterns once you arrive. Otherwise, you may fall in love with a hot-pink salad spinner despite never making salads at home.

Another good way to handle this is retroactively. After you’ve filled out a registry, give yourself a day or two to calm down and then log on to your registry online. Delete items that you really don’t need or want, since we occasionally add some by accident or without much thought. You don’t want to get overwhelmed by all the options.

Focus on “One Notch Nicer” Than You’d Buy Yourself

It can be hard to decide what price point to choose for housewares; there are luxury brands and there are bargain-basement options. A nice rule of thumb is to find what you would realistically buy for yourself, and select something “one notch nicer.” This doesn’t mean picking the most expensive items in the store, but instead aiming for something that is likely to last, be timeless and beautiful, and appeal to the person who is purchasing it for you. They want to feel like they are contributing to your future as well!

Include at Least a Couple of “Fun” Gifts

A young man and woman using a grill they received as a wedding gift off their registry.

While most traditional registries focus on durable home goods that help the new couple set up house, there will be one or two folks (often young family members, but not always!) who wish they could get you something strange or awesome. If you and your spouse want to own a beautiful kite, throw it on the registry! If you like the idea of some new board game, put it in. Even though most people will aim toward those mixing bowls or cutting boards, there is room for a little whimsy and fun on the edges of this registry.

Use the Rule of Thirds for Choosing Gifts

There will be guests who cannot afford a large gift, but who want to contribute in some small way. Conversely, there will be certain guests who want to show their love through a lavish gift. Both kinds are great, so it helps to aim for an “inexpensive,” “medium,” and “highly generous” set of gifts. Your own family and friends are the biggest determiners of what those levels are (consider registries from other weddings in your family to think about this!). However, the biggest thing is to make sure that your friends and family don’t run out of small gifts to give and feel pressure to purchase a large gift because it’s all that’s left on the registry.

More than anything else, the important thing is to remember that not everyone will get you a gift, and the entire registry isn’t intended to get bought up. If there are unpurchased items on the registry, that’s fine; you might even get a cash gift at some point that you can use toward something you really wanted but didn’t receive.

Try as hard as you can to see the registry as a way to show your guests some suggestions, and not a hard-and-fast checklist. One of the most rewarding parts of having a registry is associating daily items in your house—a soft duvet, a beautiful serving dish—with people you love, so that those items become more than just household items to you.

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