Wedding gift registries - A guide to registering and etiquette

When invited to a wedding, one of the first things that come to mind for a guest, probably following close on the heels on ‘What shall I wear?’ is the question ‘What gift should I give?’ A wedding gift is a guest’s way of showering on the newlyweds a tangible expression of their wishes for the couple – it could be a big ticket item, something that will give them a headstart in their married life, or just a token of their good wishes for the couple.

Unless you’re one of those people who love shopping around for a wedding gift, it is invariably quite a task to think of the ‘right’ gift. Something that will look good, prove useful to the couple and yet, suit your budget. Gift registries provide a solution to the problem and prove beneficial in many ways…

It is helpful to the couple

The couple is able to specify or shortlist the things they would like and that will be of use to them. If they are able to identify items in various price ranges, it helps guests with varied budgets to choose something that they are assured will benefit the couple and yet fits in with what they are prepared to pay. If a couple chooses wisely and organizes their gift list and registry requirements in a planned manner, they can eliminate the possibility of duplicate gifts, thus ensuring a range of items that will help them set up house.

It is helpful to the guest

A gift registry eliminates the nerve-wracking task of brainstorming and coming up with a suitable gift. And even if you'd come up with something that you consider suitable, it may or may not suit the couple’s requirements and that would be quite a wasteful expenditure. As the gift registry would ordinarily include items in various price ranges, it is quite likely that guests would find something suiting his/her budget and with the added assurance that it is something the couple has personally chosen and will be a helpful gift.

When to register

It is a good idea to register and have everything organized before you send out your wedding invitations. However, if you are on a tight schedule and haven’t had the time to plan your registry, do it as soon as you can, even after you send out the invitations. Guests might still like the option, even if it is late, rather than have to figure out on their own what they should get you and have it prove unsuitable after all.

How to go about creating a registry

What you need

It is a good idea to review what your needs are in terms of items that will suit your lifestyle and requirements. It might serve your purpose to conduct a bit of research to arrive at a list of what you need and the quantities in which you need them. Bridal magazines, department store catalogue, advertisements, commercials and browsing through stores, are a good way to go about opening your mind to the possibilities. Make it a point to note down the brand, model, colour etc. so that you can be as specific as possible. If you and your partner have been living together, you might not require as many basic household items. Or you might like to now start stocking up on some good china and silverware and not resort to casual sets or mismatched pieces, which is what you’ve been doing to date. Arrive at a list of the items that you would like to be presented with.


A couple usually registers with a few stores that will begin compiling a gift registry for them, based on their individual taste and choice. Once you register, the store can exert subtle pressure on you to make quick decisions, which is why it is a good idea to come prepared with a definite idea of what you’re looking for. The staff at the store can provide valuable assistance, however, by reviewing your guest list and accordingly ensuring that your registry has the right number and selection of gifts based on the number of guests.

Some of the places chosen by couples to register are:

Department stores

Home improvement centers

Linen stores

Specialty stores

Linen stores

Travel agencies, etc.

Online gift registry

Many of the major retailers offer the facility of online gift registries. This involves being able to find out online, through the store’s website, what exactly the couple desires as part of their gift list. It is as simple as…

Logging on to the store’s website

Clicking on the gift registry link provided

Providing the couples’ details, usually the full name

Instant access to the gift list


Convenience of being able to shop online and buy something appropriate without having to expend time and effort visiting the store/shopping around

Especially advantageous if from out of town and are not able to personally visit the store of the couple’s choice

If unable to attend the wedding but would still like to send a gift, this saves the effort/cost of mailing a gift to the couple

Many choices available and can discreetly survey the list without having to ask too many questions about prices etc., as all information is available online.

You can monitor your registry in terms of which gifts have been purchased, and update it if you feel there aren’t enough choices left in different price ranges and only high-end items are left. That way guests shopping at the last minute, even a week or two before the wedding will still have a choice.

What to register for

There are a variety of alternatives, both traditional and non-traditional, that you can choose from:

The traditional include dinnerware, silverware, china, glassware, travel items, household items, linen and other items typically included in a newlyweds' ‘setting up home’ list.

The non-traditional alternatives could be…

Charitable gifts towards causes or charities that you strongly believe in. However, not everyone might like to contribute towards charity and might prefer traditional items as gifts, so you should have a choice available.

Bed and breakfast options are also available for family or closer friends to contribute towards, to provide a couple with a romantic getaway.

Honeymoon registries are also popular through travel agents that allow guests to contribute to a couple’s honeymoon fund. However it is advisable to register with a reputed company, so that all contributions are kept track of and you are advised of the same.


Registering at too many stores. While it is a good idea to offer a wide variety of choices to guests, registering at too many stores can give the impression that you have made receiving gifts the focus of your wedding.

Registering for the same item at different stores, as there is no coordination between stores to track that the item has been bought, so you could end up with duplicates.
Being unduly pressured by salespeople at stores to list something you don’t really need.

Many of these items are things that you will be using for a long time, so make sure they’re things you really require, and more importantly, that they suit your taste and lifestyle.
Going in for only classy dinnerware and fancy products. You might suddenly realize you don’t have anything for daily dining and casual use.


While it might seem practical to include registry information with your invitation, this is not a good idea; in fact it is in bad taste. The only way to do it is by letting close family and friends know and letting them inform others. Or you could let someone know if they specifically ask you. Also, if you have created a wedding website, it is acceptable to post registry information on it.

It is a good idea for both partners to agree on the items chosen for the registry, as they would both have to live with the choices. Unless one partner is totally averse and does not want to be consulted, it is always nice to make the choice together.

Listing items in a variety of price ranges gives your guests a range of choices to suit varying budgets. It is unfair to exclusively include big ticket items.

It is up to your guests to decide what they would like to gift you. It is considered in poor taste to insinuate or hint at gifts that you would like to receive from them.