What to Do If Your Registry Gifts Are Backordered or Canceled

A global supply chain crisis is impacting engaged couples and wedding guests.

wedding gift

Helene Immel / Unsplash

A global supply chain crisis is currently disrupting the retail world. Some businesses can't make products because they can't get the materials or items they need from across the world. And even if they can finish manufacturing an item, there are shipping delays or increased prices, meaning consumers are struggling to get what they ordered. Experts say these problems aren't going away any time soon, and they may continue throughout 2022.

If you are a couple getting married who has a wedding registry, you might be feeling the effects of the global supply chain crisis. Perhaps a gift someone bought you is on backorder, and the supplier is saying you might not get it for months or years. If you bought a loved one a wedding gift, you might be nervous it won't get to them, even though you already ordered and paid for it.

To help you navigate this complicated situation we turned to Emily Forrest, director of communications for Zola, a wedding registry website. She explained the situation in more detail and gave practical tips for how both couples getting married and their wedding guests can manage these difficulties.

Meet the Expert

Emily Forrest is the Director of Communications for Zola, a wedding registry website.

What to Do as a Couple With an Existing Registry

Forrest says the most common challenge couples getting married are facing is that items on their wedding registries are backordered. "Supply chain issues have impacted the entire retail industry," she explains. "If an item on their registry is backordered, or if a gift will take a bit of extra time to ship, we notify couples as quickly as possible."

Be Patient

One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to deal with these issues is simply to sit tight and be patient. If you want a particular item, like a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, for example, the only way to get it in today's climate is to wait for it. "The stand mixer is something that will be in your kitchen on display forever, and we know it's something couples may daydream about almost as much as they daydream about their dream wedding flowers and attire," she says. "We have found that most couples are adding gifts that they really want to their registry, so they often choose to wait."

For some couples, having their gifts ship long after their wedding might even be a blessing. "Couples are often in the midst of planning, maybe moving, or even traveling on their honeymoon when guests purchase a gift," she adds. A delayed shipment, therefore, might be welcome.

Consider an Exchange

If you don't want to wait for your items (maybe you just moved into a new home, and you need certain things), many wedding registry websites are letting you exchange one item for another that could be available sooner. "If an item goes on backorder, we notify the couple and provide an estimated arrival date so they can decide if they want to wait for the item, or if they want to convert it to Zola credit and then purchase anything else in our online store," offers Forrest.

Consult with your contact at the registry service to find similar products that are shipping quicker if you don't want to wait for your original items. Another color of the same item, for example, might arrive much earlier.

Always Thank Your Guests

If someone bought you a gift that you can't get yet, go ahead with the thank you note regardless. "You can and should still thank the guest," reminds Forrest. "Just say something along the lines of, 'We can't wait to use the gift you gave us!' and mention how much you loved or will love celebrating with them at the wedding."

Forrest also says to try not to get too stressed about the gifts and their delivery. Keep in mind that it's the meaning behind the gifts that really matter. "It's the thought that counts when it comes to the gift," she assures.  

What to Do as a Couple Without a Wedding Registry

Don't Delay Your Registry

If you are just now planning your wedding you might be thinking: Should I wait to create my registry until the global supply chain crisis gets better? Forrest recommends not postponing it. "There is no reason to do this," she says. "We sell over 1,000 brands, so couples are definitely going to find something in stock that they love." Also, we don't know exactly how long this crisis will go on, so you might be waiting years.

Add What You Want

If you aren't in a hurry to get your gifts you should still add any item to your registry that you desire. "I really encourage couples to add everything to their registry that they want, and then go from there," shares Forrest. "A registry is really about a couple creating a life together. It's not about one particular item, so this should not be a factor they need to worry about."

Diversify Your List

But if you are concerned about getting items on time, she suggests diversifying the list, even adding the same items from a few different makers. "Couples should always add items from across categories and price points to their registry from dinnerware to décor," she advises.

Consider Cash Gifts or Experiences

Another way to avoid global supply chain crisis issues is to ask for cash or experiences (a gift certificate to a hotel or spa, a guided tour on a honeymoon, etc.) rather than material goods. "Couples should add all of the experiences and cash funds they want."

What to Do as an Invited Guest

Forrest notes it's really not a wedding guest's problem if an item is backordered or delayed. It is up to the couple to decide if they want to wait for the item or exchange it for something else. "If an item does go on backorder, the couple will be given the option to exchange it or wait for it to ship," she reiterates.

But if you are attached to giving the nearlyweds a particular gift, and you don't want to take the chance that they will exchange it, you should give something not impacted by the global supply chain crisis. Cash is always a good idea or an experience like a gift certificate to a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Another option is to give a gift made close to where the couple lives. Small, local artisans and makers are less likely to rely on parts or materials coming in from across the world that they need to make a product. They also sometimes hand-deliver items or ship them locally so delays are a lot less likely.

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