While I wholeheartedly endorse registering for wedding gifts — in fact, I strongly urge it if you don't want to receive a bunch of things that you didn't need or want from well-intentioned friends and family — getting the registry memo to your wedding guests can be a sticky situation. Traditional wedding etiquette rules dictate that you're not supposed to exactly advertise where you've registered on your wedding invitation, so, er, what's a bride to do? What's the appropriate way to let your guests know that you have registered, without looking like you're asking for gifts?
Some etiquette experts say you absolutely, positively should not post links to your registry on your wedding website. I used to agree, but now I'm on the fence because, simply put, it's the trend nowadays. Millennial guests seem to expect to be able to find that sort of information online, and are in no way offended by finding it on the couples' website. With that said, my own advice is to choose a discreet place for it, and try to avoid having a "Gift Ideas" or "Our Registry" link prominently displayed on the navigation bar for your site.
Because, when it comes down to it, a guest who is looking for registry information on your page will find it wherever you put it.
My personal opinion is to utilize those close to you, both friends and family, to spread the news about your registry. Friends who are throwing engagement parties and bridal showers for you are the best way to get the information about your registry out to everyone discreetly. It's perfectly acceptable for the hostess to put a note in the invitation that says "The bride and groom are registered at X" to make it easy. This option leaves the bride and groom out of it, so that they aren't perceived as telling people to go to their registry — their friends are just doing it for them!
Your immediate family can also be very helpful in directing people to your wedding registry, if you ask for assistance. It's the kind of thing moms tend to chat about with their friends anyway.
If you don't want to receive gifts for some reason, it's okay to tell guests that on your invitation or your wedding website, but don't expect not to receive some gifts regardless of the request. You can choose to ask your guests to donate to a specific charitable cause in lieu of gifts, if there's a cause that is important to you.
If you're wanting to register for cash gifts — whether it be a honeymoon fund, money for a down payment on a house, or just help paying off the wedding — find a specialized registry that will help fund whatever it is you're hoping to buy with the money you receive, and direct guests there. Registry websites like Zola allow couples to create funds like this, so that guests feel that they're contributing to a specific cause, like paying for a portion of your honeymoon hotel, as opposed to just writing a check.
But if you do this, let your parents know to spread the word so they can discreetly tell your godmother, for example, that you'd rather have money than an engraved cake knife.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.