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You're engaged and you're wedding planning, but your mother keeps pressuring you to register for wedding gifts so her friends can get you lovely engagement presents. Unfortunately, you've already got a million things on your to-do list, and shopping for your future home isn't a big priority at that moment. You're not even sure where you want to be registered, and that's certainly the first step.
Don't jump online and just start registering without giving it some serious thought. When I got married, the options were far more limited. Now you can register at home improvement centers, Amazon, Target and pretty much every other big store that has online shopping.
Before you start clicking away with abandon, and commit yourself to a specific store, consider the following three items:
1. Figure out what kind of things you need for your new married life.
If you're older and your household is complete, you're probably going to be upgrading things you've already got, or branching out. Crate and Barrel is a great place to get all your starter accessories, but if you're ready to upgrade, Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table might have a better selection. Bed Bath & Beyond has expanded their crystal and china sections to the point where some brides don't feel the need to register at department stores, but they don't carry every designer or the most upscale of everything.
2. Register at more than one store.
Don't overlap what you're requesting, but if you're going to register at Home Depot, it's a good idea to counter that with something like Macy's, where guests who don't want to get you a weed whacker can find a more traditional gift. Also, if you're registering with a little shop in your hometown because that's where all your family's friends will shop for you, make sure your second selection has a full-blown online wedding registry section for the folks who can't conveniently shop in your hometown.
3. Thoroughly investigate the store's policies regarding how long you have to purchase things off your registry at a discount after your wedding.
Find out how long you have to return items for the full value. Make sure you won't be stuck with duplicate items from well-meaning friends who didn't check things off your registry. Nowadays, people will go looking for your registry items someplace less expensive. You can't return those things to the store where you are registered, so you have to keep that in mind. And find out if you can make returns for cash instead of store credit— not many stores will do that anymore.
Finally, after you're registered, check your online wedding registries when you receive a gift that you know you requested.
If things were purchased elsewhere, change the quantity you need or delete them entirely once you've received them so that somebody else doesn't get you the same thing. Sure, you can return or exchange it, but you're going to be busy with a whole lot of more interesting things after your wedding.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.