Congratulations, you've said, "Yes!" and now your ever-growing wedding to-do list probably wont stop until you say "I do." Amongst the slew of wedding-planning tasks between celebrating your engagement and walking down the aisle is registering for wedding gifts — a fun yet time- and thought-consuming task that you certainly won't regret. But determining exactly when to register within your giant timeline of events can be confusing, so we're here to help!
If You're Having an Engagement Party...
If you and your new fiancé decide to have an engagement celebration, or if a close friend or family member is throwing one for you, it's important to consider creating your wedding registry beforehand (unless it is a surprise, of course!). While some couples opt for a "no gift" message to spread before an engagement party, most people will still want to give a gift to celebrate your milestone. Without registering prior to the celebration, you might end up with a ton of "Mr. & Mrs." paraphernalia, or stuff you don't really need (or want). While all gifts should be graciously accepted and appreciated, if you can register before your engagement party, it's ideal.
The Must-Register Deadline: Your Bridal Shower
This is a must. As long as you're having a bridal shower, you really need to register for wedding gifts. Even if it is a surprise, you should aim to have your registry completed at the time your invitations are created and/or mailed. Whether you opt for filling your wedding registry with traditional housewares, honeymoon funds, or newlywed adventures — it's all relative in terms of timing. Guests at your shower will want the guidance to help them select the perfect gift, and you'll be happy that you did.
General Rules of Thumb
In terms of general etiquette guidelines, most professionals agree that within the 7-9 month range before your wedding date is the ideal time to register. Within this time, it's implied that your bridal shower and any other pre-wedding festivities will take place, and with your registry created and ready to go, gift giving (and receiving) will be a breeze.
DON'T go out to celebrate your engagement by scanning everything in sight right away. There are many more wedding tasks to complete before creating a wish-list of wedding gifts, and jumping right into it might very well give off the wrong impression, and add extra stress that you don't (yet) need. As with everything in wedding planning there is a time, and a place!
Consider Your Needs
Don't feel obligated to register at one of the "standard" retailers all your married friends registered before you. If you and your fiancé already live together and/or don't have a need for new bakeware or monogram towels, don't register for them. Your guests want to give you gifts you will truly love, not that you've added out of obligation.
Remember, nearly all registries are digitized now, and you can edit and update your lists at any time, so if you go in person to scan for wedding fits, try not to feel too pressured into making the perfect registry — and happy "shopping"!