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Despite how much you love each other, shopping with your soon-to-be spouse can be downright stressful, especially when it comes to your wedding registry. "Simply put, couples have different tastes and priorities for what they most want," explains Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach. But you can get through registering without so much as a single spat with these expert-approved tips.
1. Choose a kind of registry that will benefit you both.
Often a wedding becomes all about the bride, says Kelly Heyn, owner of SociaLife Event Planning in New Jersey. "But having something the groom can get excited about too will make the registry process more enjoyable for both of you," she says. So kick off your registry work by talking over what type of registry you both want. If your home is already filled-to-the-brim, consider opening an alternative registry that will allow you to take the honeymoon of your dreams or a generalized registry site, like Zola, where you can add on everything from a grill to sports and services sure to please your guy, suggests Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia.
Coleman says if you can't immediately compromise on a registry that will work for you both, write down your own ideal stores or sites to compare at a later date. Discuss why each idea is important to you, then ask the other to choose one registry you can run with for a total of two. "In some cases, couples may want to offer more choices, as long as they are in a general agreement about doing this and what these would be," she explains.
2. Don't wait too long to decide.
Delaying this particular decision could lead to disagreements down the road, our experts warn. "Deciding what kind of registry a couple would like to have should be discussed pretty early after an engagement," says Heyn, who explains that family and friends will soon be pressing you for what presents they should buy. And we all know familial pressure can cause serious anxiety for an already frazzled couple. "Waiting too long can become an issue for family members who may want to include the registry information on the invitations for an engagement party or bridal shower," Heyn says.
Once you make a decision on the direction your registry will go, complete it in steps, suggests Fisher. "Registering can be overwhelming," she explains, "so doing it in steps will alleviate stress and avoid unnecessary arguments." Establish what you must include on the registry from the start, then slowly add items or ideas as you go. "Once some of the bigger planning to-do's have been checked off the list, the couple should revisit the registry and add more items," Fisher says. "This way bridal shower attendees have plenty of gifts to choose from and the couple won't feel the added pressure of registering while trying to choose a photographer and band."
3. Picture your ideal registry before you hit the store.
Don't end up in a bickering match in the bath aisle of your local big-box store because you didn't decide before you walked in whether you really need new towels. "Before registering at any store, we encourage couples to sit down and have a discussion about what their ideal registry is," says Heyn. "Make a list of items that are most needed around the house and talk to each other about those items."
Coleman also adds that compromise can be tough when you're faced with wildly different tastes. Try to "refrain from any hurtful or snarky comments about the other's taste," she recommends, while encouraging a system in which you take turns making final decisions when you're in the store. Plus, "having veto power can be a good idea in the event someone really hates a particular choice their partner is recommending, but only if this is not used liberally or mean-spiritedly," she adds.
4. Don't rush the experience.
Registering should be a fun experience. But if you try to sneak it in between stationery appointments, you could add unnecessary stress to your afternoon and that could lead to arguments, says Fisher. "Trying to register in a hurry is setting yourself up for failure. Not only are you more likely to get in an argument with your partner, but you're more likely to register for items that you may not really want or need," she explains. "So find an empty day on the calendar and let the scanning or online clicking begin. Don't forget to enjoy a celebratory dinner or cocktail when you're done!"