Wedding Registry Etiquette 101: Your Biggest Wedding Gift Questions, Answered!

Brides Live Wedding, Home & Registry
Wedding registry etiquette

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Wedding registries are a big deal for most engaged couples: It's one of the wedding-planning tasks grooms like the most, it informs your future home's decor, and it means you're getting amazing wedding presents! Like many aspects of a wedding, though registries also involve complicated etiquette rules.

"Some rules never change — you should register early and include items with a range of price points — but modern brides and grooms want gifts that match their personalities, so your registry should reflect you both as a couple," Brit Morin, the registry expert for Target (a Brides Live Wedding sponsor) says.

To that end, Morin has a bright piece of advice: "My number-one rule: Nothing goes on the list unless you both love it! The registry should be a reflection of what you like to do together, which could range from cooking gadgets to a great entertainment center — or even camping gear!"

With Morin's wise words in mind, we compiled a wedding registry 101 of questions and answers for all brides- and grooms-to-be.

When should we register?
If you want to hit up stores like Target the moment you get engaged, go for it, friends and family will want to send you gifts from the moment you announce your engagement. Just remember that giving gifts, while certainly customary, is not mandatory for engagement parties.

How do we tell guests where we registered?
Not on the wedding invitation! It should never mention an expectation of a gift, even though, yes, that would be the easiest and most obvious place. It may sound old-fashioned, but word of mouth is still the best way to loop everyone in on your registry. Another way to easily share registry details with your guest list is via a wedding website — which is totally okay to include on your invites. Be sure to list the URL so guests can head there to get all sorts of additional wedding info (location details, directions, attire suggestions, and, of course, your registry).

Is it rude to register if we're having a destination wedding?
Not at all. When there's a wedding, people will want to give gifts, regardless of whether ceremony is taking place near or far. Just keep in mind that many guests will be dropping a significant amount of cash on plane tickets and hotel rooms, so it's important to fill your registry with affordable items. Ideally, your guests should mail their gift to you before the wedding (there's no need to bring your present on the plane!); they can also mail it to you within a month of when you return from your honeymoon. Also, because of the distance, there will likely be friends and family members who can't make it to the wedding but will certainly want to buy you a gift.

What is the deal with honeymoon registries?
Thanks to modern technology, guests can easily "give" you honeymoon experiences in lieu of physical gifts. After you and your fiancé choose a honeymoon destination, make a list of what you need help paying for and pick some activities you wouldn't otherwise splurge on, think sunset horseback rides, massages, zip lining, you get the idea. Then, create a registry on a site like, where you can create a travel wish list, with items like "$75 toward airfar," and spread the word that you're registered there. Of course, a few guests (like Aunt Silvia) will insist on getting you something they can wrap, so register for a few conventional items.

What if my fiancé and I already live together?
These days, when the couple already lives together, the idea of furnishing the marital home may seem dated, but guests will inevitably want to give a gift. Create a registry, but skip the basics since you already own them and register instead for items in the following two categories:

Upgrades & Extras: Think of this as an opportunity to upgrade some of the stuff you've been "making do" with. You could ask for beyond-the-basic dishes, a full set of matching wineglasses, the juicer you didn't want to fork over the cash for, or a fancy vacuum. Plus, there are also those items that you'll always need more of in the future, like extra towels and sheets.

Practical Necessities & Fun Stuff: Think beyond the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom and register for all those practical yet random items you might need: stainless-steel garbage cans, a complete set of tools, gardening equipment, a compost bin. And don't forget to add some just-plain-fun items you and your new husband can enjoy together: classic board games or a pair of tennis rackets.

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