Last year, the average cost of a wedding gift from a family member was $200, according to an American Express survey; from colleagues and friends it was $74. Considering that most couples say "I do" in front of about 142 people, that adds up to some serious loot. How do you make sure you're getting gifts you'll actually love and use? Zoe Settle, a wedding-registry consultant and partner in the registry site Maxwell Silver New York, lays it out.
Register early and often.
At least one friend is going to want to get you a present as soon as she sees a save-the-date, so have a few items on your registry before sending them out. But don't try to put together the whole list in one round. You can add items as needed, even after the big day.
Try to plan for one gift per guest.
Your office bestie and her husband may buy one present, while some family members may snap up several, so it will even out. If you're having multiple events, like an engagement party or shower, add another gift per person invited to each. (Unless it's a themed shower. The hostess will handle this and, no, you will not be registering for lingerie.)
Max out at five stores.
Why? Because you don't want the "Registry" page of your wedding website to be longer than "How We Met." Be sure to include at least one mainstream choice with multiple physical locations as well as an online presence (like Williams-Sonoma or Bloomingdale's) for traditionalists and far-flung guests.
This is the time to upgrade.
Your list says not only who you are but also who you aspire to be. Ask yourself, Are there things I'd love for my married life but can't afford? How do I envision my future life? Even if your current place is a shoe box, if you dream of hosting dinner parties one day, go ahead and ask for the serving platters.
Get what you actually want.
There's no rule that you have to register for china. If your ideal weekend is spent camping rather than cooking, go for some outdoor gear at REI; if a good nap is your greatest indulgence, ask for the 800-fill power-down comforter. Or register for cash — toward, say, a flight or honeymoon, which has lost its stigma and is now totally cool.
Don't let cost drive your decisions.
Your registry should paint a picture of your ideal life as a couple, so try not to edit yourself too much. If you have expensive tastes, own it. People may join forces to get you something special. Yes, you should include a variety of price points, but don't register for a $10 spatula you don't want just to have a cheap option.
Still, never put a price tag on friendship.
If you have loved ones going through financial strain, ask them to give in other ways, like addressing envelopes or passing around the guest book at the wedding. Just make sure to send a thank-you note for these gifts; they're as valuable as anything off your registry. Be sure to include at least one mainstream choice with multiple physical locations as well as an online presence (like Williams-Sonoma or Bloomingdale's) for traditionalists and far-flung guests.
Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES June/July 2015 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!