Putting together a wedding registry is exciting, but also a little awkward. When was the last time you put together a list of gifts you wanted—and then willingly shared it with people? Asking for place settings and kitchen appliances can make many couples feel guilty, especially when it comes to higher-end items they might not be able to afford for themselves or use right away. But most guests love wedding registries—it helps them find a gift the couple really wants, and those high-end items? You’d be surprised how quickly they get snapped up as group gifts or by your favorite aunt.
Here are the most common reasons couples feel guilty about their wedding registries—and why you really shouldn’t.
What Couples Say: “I don’t want my guests to be uncomfortable.”
What Guests Say: “Registries are really helpful!”
Asking for gifts is weird, but registries make it so much easier. Your guests are expecting to get you a gift for your wedding, so taking the time to pick out things you’ll really enjoy makes that process so much easier. That way you’ll end up with the décor items or flatware you love, instead of something totally unexpected that doesn’t fit your taste.
One guest who agrees is Mary, 27, of New York, who's attended five weddings in the past year alone: "I wouldn't want to navigate the gift process without it," she says. "It takes the guesswork out; and since it's all done online, you can get the gift there ahead of the wedding." She also advises couples not to hold back when making out their lists. "I'd register for a lot of items," she says. "Nobody's going to go back to the list and say, 'They have so much stuff left over—they must've asked for too much.'"
What Couples Say: “These gifts are too expensive.”
What Guests Say: “Your friends can all pitch in!”
"I did feel guilty about registering for things I wouldn't buy for myself—I wouldn't pay $150 for a toaster," says Cassandra, 24, of Jim Thorpe, PA. McCartney, 23, of Nashville, registered at two local shops as well as two national chains for her 2009 wedding, with the last store giving her serious sticker shock: "I thought, 'It's ridiculous that I'm registering for a pillow that costs $50,'" she says. "With the duvet, sham, and comforter, it probably added up to $600 for the whole bed set." Other brides make—then revise—their lists.
Says Melody, 26, of New York, "Early on, we registered for a really expensive set of pots and pans [$600] and a duo coffee/espresso maker [$350]. After the engagement party, we decided to remove them from the list—we felt bad having registered for such big-ticket items."
Yes, some items are pricey. But registry websites today make that a concern of the past. Many offer group gifting options—meaning a guest can purchase a portion of a gift without having to even coordinate with friends—or a group of close friends can pool their money to buy you something together. "For my girlfriend's wedding, the bridal party all went in on a camcorder for the couple to use on their honeymoon," says Rachael. "Instead of getting $50 things here and there, we wanted to give them something that was greater than the sum of its parts."
And there will probably be a few family friends or relatives who are happy to spend a little extra in honor of such a special occasion. And when it comes to that nicer set of plates? Think to the future. If you register for the cheap stuff now, you’re stuck with it, whereas if you ask for something you really love (even if it’s a little more expensive), you’ll be happy when you look at it and use it in the years to come.
What Couples Say: “We won’t use this stuff right away.”
What Guests Say: “You’ll need certain items—even if it isn’t for years.”
Although it's traditional to request china and silver, if a couple's current way of life is more about takeout than table settings, practical brides and grooms can feel torn. "I was a little uncomfortable registering for silver and china because in Boulder, Colorado, the lifestyle is more casual—and I couldn't believe how expensive it was," says Sarah, 28, who got married in her hometown of Dallas in 2007.
Sure, you might not be planning to host Thanksgiving for 12 with your fine china right away, but the time will come, so look toward the future! Your lifestyle will evolve as you get older, so if there’s something that you’d love to have, even if you know you won’t use it for a few years, add it to your registry. Older friends and family members know first-hand that the time will come! "A couple should appreciate that people who care about them and their family enjoy the chance to give a gift, and may understand more about the future possibilities for home and entertaining than a new bride and groom," says Karen, 57, of Dallas, a family friend of Sarah's who gave her an estate silver setting.
"In my case, I was married shortly after I graduated from college, and I'd never really even noticed china before."
What Couples Say: “We don’t want to seem greedy.”
What Guests Say: “The more options, the better.”
One of the hardest parts of a wedding registry? Putting enough items on the list! You want at least one gift per guest (which means 100 or more items for 100 guests!) so there is something for everyone to choose from. "For the wedding I attended last weekend, the couple didn't register for enough," says Mary, who admits she "procrastinated a little too long" before shopping and by the time she got to it, most items on the registry had already been bought. What was left? "The $350 KitchenAid mixer that every couple registers for, plus random bits and pieces, like a towel and a washcloth.
So I had to go off the registry." Another frequent wedding guest, Rachael, 32, of Clinton, NJ, has had the same experience: "All the medium-size gifts get bought first, so you're left with either the $1,300 bedroom set or 20 different kitchen doodads," she says.
You should also choose gifts in a range of price points, making gifting easy for everyone. A guest with a tighter budget might pick one item that costs a little less, while someone else may want to purchase a few items to combine into one bigger gift. The more choices you can offer your guests, the easier it will be for them to pick something out for you.
What Couples Say: “We already have what we need for our home.”
What Guests Say: “Your registry is a peek into who you are as a couple.”
While younger couples can feel bad asking pals to stretch their budgets, older couples who are more established may also be hesitant to impose upon their friends. "I'm 37—I own my own house and have the things I want in life," says Lisa. "So for that reason alone it seemed odd to me to register. I felt like registries were meant for couples just starting out."
You may not need to fill your kitchen cabinets, but your registry is a great way to add items to your home that really fit your lifestyle as a couple. Yes, you have plates and forks, but if the two of you have gotten really into craft cocktails recently, you might not yet have a cocktail shaker and bar set or the necessary glassware for your new concoctions. If you’re avid outdoors-people, it may be high time to invest in a waterproof tent or pads to place under your sleeping bags. These more specific items are a great way to show your guests who you are and what you love to do together.