Top 22 Wedding Registry Etiquette Rules & Tips To Follow

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Wedding gift registries have come a long way in the last two decades. Nowadays, engaged couples might register at online boutiques and department stores. Despite the progress of technology, good manners have remained unchanged. Proper behavior is still demanded of everyone, even in this day and age. Viva Wedding Photography doesn’t want to put undue stress on you. So, we’ve compiled a list of typical wedding registry etiquette any newlywed might need to know.

“Dos” of Wedding Gift Registry Etiquette For Couples

1. Do make a registry list

Creating a registry list is a "must-do" of wedding registry etiquette
Creating a registry list is a “must-do” of wedding registry etiquette

Even if you don’t believe you’ll need one, a wedding registry is a must-have. Your loved ones will celebrate your marriage by giving you a gift that will help you set up for your future life together. It is their way of expressing care and showing support for your relationship. So, it is highly likely that you and your partner will receive gifts regardless of whether or not you have a register. Therefore, it would be beneficial for you to create a thoughtfully curated list of products that can enhance your lives once the wedding celebrations are over.

Wedding registry tips:

If you don’t know what to put on your wedding registry, think about asking for help from recently married people, salespeople, and registry planners or advisors. These people have a wealth of information on how to make the most of the registry. 

2. Do register ahead of time

Register ahead of time is a proper etiquette for wedding registry
Registering ahead of time is a proper etiquette for wedding registry.

Some of your guests will begin planning the ideal wedding present after receiving a save-the-date. To ensure that your family and friends have ample time to review your wish list and choose their gifts, it’s proper wedding registry etiquette to start building your registry approximately six months before your big day. This is also beneficial for guests who want to contribute to expensive items. Trust us, they will appreciate having time to coordinate with others! 

It’s also essential to ensure that you have sufficient items on your registry before your wedding shower if you plan to use one registry list for both events.

3. Do plan your wedding registry together

It's a nice wedding registry etiquette rule to have your partner involve
It’s a nice wedding registry etiquette rule to have your partner involve

Wedding gifts are intended for you and your partner to share as newlyweds. Make sure that your partner is participating. Better yet, use it to create a memorable moment during the wedding planning process. You can discuss potential registry selections while enjoying cocktails or add gifts online while relaxing at home on the weekend. As the old adage goes, “Two heads are better than one,” so why not work together and have fun while planning your next stage in life? 

4. Do take inventory of your stuff

Wedding registry etiquette: take inventory of your stuff
Wedding gift registry etiquette advises you to take inventory of your stuff at the beginning.

While it’s important to register for things that bring you excitement, it’s crucial to prioritize items that you actually need first. In order to determine your needs, begin by taking stock of the items you currently possess. Additionally, have a discussion with your fiancé regarding the desired style of the home you both envision sharing. Take a moment to reflect on how you prefer to entertain, what your interests are, and what your life will be like in a few years.

If you and your future spouse may already have everything you need, there’s no need to register for traditional wedding gifts. Don’t be shy about asking for specific items. This is totally acceptable wedding registry etiquette!

5. Do review your registry regularly

etiquette for wedding registry: Update your registry list as needed
Update your list regularly can make it much more accessible for guests – Photo by: The Knot

Even if you’ve completed your registry with an adequate number of items months before your wedding, couples frequently need to make adjustments. The attendees of your wedding shower may be exceptionally generous and fulfill all of your options before the nuptials. Or the glassware set that you had your heart set on may no longer be available. Anything might happen, so it’s good etiquette for wedding registry to keep an eye on your list and make sure there is always a nice selection for guests.

>>> Further reading: What To Do If Your Registry Gifts Are Backordered?

6. Do register enough items at every price point

Add gifts at every price point is a proper wedding registry etiquette
Adding gifts at every price point is a proper wedding gift registry etiquette to follow.

It is essential that your list includes products that may be purchased on a wide range of budgets. But how many items should go on your registry? Simple: double your guest list by two and throw in a few more items. Some of your friends and family may buy a lot of gifts, while others may want to spend a lot on one big item.

To cover all bases, a golden rule of thumb is to register for presents ranging from $50 to $200 or more. With a wide range of prices and selections, your registry would be much more accessible for all guests.

7. Do put the registry on your wedding website

Including a registry list as part of your wedding planning is quite common. However, it can sometimes be challenging to find the appropriate approach to let guests know where you’re registered. Remember to go in a respectful manner so that you do not come across as disrespectful.

Wedding Registry Etiquette - Putting Your Registry on Website
A wedding website is the best place to include your registry link.

Adding a link to your registry on a wedding website is a great idea. Since guests will already be visiting your wedding website to find all the details about your big day, it will be easy for them to navigate to the registry section. In addition, you can discreetly and easily ask your close friends, family members, or wedding party to direct other guests to your website.

Wedding registry tips:

It would be considered bad wedding registry etiquette to include registry information on a wedding invitation, that’s why you should never do so.

8. Do set up a universal registry

Using a universal registry is a modern wedding gift registry etiquette
Merge all your registries in one place is a modern wedding gift registry etiquette.

Previously, couples with diverse needs and interests were required to register at three to four large retail stores. Thanks to the convenience of online registries, it is now possible to organize everything on a single wish list. A universal registry allows couples to conveniently add a wide range of items, including hiking gear and charcuterie board tools, all in one place for their guests to shop from.

Moreover, having all of your registry items in one place makes it convenient for you to keep track of what has and hasn’t been purchased. This way, you can easily update and add to the registry as needed.

9. Do customize shipping preferences.

etiquette for wedding registry: tailor the shipping settings
Tailoring the shipping settings is a good registry practice – Photo by: Hitched.

Wedding registry gifts are sometimes presented in person at a wedding shower or carried into the reception hall. However, some couples may prefer gifts to be shipped directly to their doorstep, especially if they are planning a destination wedding. When registering, make sure to indicate your delivery preferences clearly. Sharing these details with your family and friends is also good wedding registry etiquette.

10. Do write thank-you cards right away

Wedding Registry Etiquette: write thank-you cards right away
It is proper wedding gift registry etiquette to send a thank-you card

The most important part of good wedding registry etiquette is saying “thank you.” Tell your guests as soon as possible that their gifts have arrived. Thank-you cards for presents you got before the wedding should be sent out within two weeks.

Thank-you notes about wedding gifts that were given on or after the wedding day should be sent within a month (six weeks is still acceptable). To stay on top of things, keep a list of everything you’ve gotten and who’s coming, then pick a place in your house to keep stationery on hand.

11. Do research the gifting policies

An important etiquette for wedding registry that couples should follow is to research the gifting policies of the stores selected thoroughly. The exchange and return rules of each gift should be checked before you receive it. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of identical presents or find out that you just have a few days to swap them.

Wedding gift registry etiquette: research the gifting policies
Research for stores’ gifting policies allows you to take advantage of registry rewards

Many registration services provide discounts on leftover items as incentives and bonuses. If you ask gently, most stores will allow you to pre-order wedding gifts and mail them together after the big day. Since regulations might vary from store to store, it’s wise to familiarize yourself as you go.

“Don’ts” of Wedding Registry Etiquette For Couples

12. Don’t only register for traditional products

Traditional registry items such as china, linens, and flatware have always been popular gift options. However, nowadays, it’s okay to ask for a wide range of gifts, including furniture, gift cards, luggage, or even cash.  

Etiquette for wedding registry items
Etiquette for wedding registry items

Make the most of your options by registering for items you will use. If you and your partner are both in agreement about a pricier item, such as a new grill or a down payment for your future house, consider adding it to your registry. A wedding registry should be tailored to each couple’s specific needs rather than following a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, register for gifts you actually want and feel comfortable having no traditional present.

13. Don’t register for personal items

It is completely reasonable to view a wedding registry as a list of desired items, but you should not be self-indulgent by listing your every wish in the world. Don’t put on your wedding registry personal items such as clothing, designer handbags, perfumes, or any other goods that cannot be shared between you and your soon-to-be spouse. 

Adding personal items is a big "Don't" of wedding registry etiquette
Adding personal items is a big “Don’t” of wedding registry etiquette.

Instead, consider your future life together as a married couple when choosing registry products. Of course, both of you will use household necessities such as pots and pans. You can also incorporate items that reflect your shared hobbies and interests. Perhaps you have a shared love for traveling the world, making new suitcases an exciting and practical gift idea. Alternatively, if you enjoy watching Oscar-nominated films as a couple, a new entertainment system could bring joy to your newlywed home. 

14. Don’t ask for money outright

While cash is often preferred, it’s still inappropriate wedding gift registry etiquette to ask guests to write you a check or slip dollars in an envelope. Instead, a cash registry allows couples to subtly indicate that they are saving up for a big purchase or their dream honeymoon. Sharing your goal, such as a down payment on a house, lets them realize they are helping to shape a meaningful part of your future.

It's a bad wedding registry etiquette to ask for cash directly
Ask for money directly is one of the inappropriate wedding registry rules

Similarly, if a certain cause or nonprofit is extremely important to you and your future spouse, including a charitable donation spot in your registry is appropriate. All you need to do is explain your relationship to the organization and request that donations be made in your name.

15. Don’t fret if you can’t get everything on the registry

wedding registry etiquette related to back-ordered gifts
Wedding registry etiquette related to back-ordered gifts – Photo by: Wedding Concepts

If you do not receive everything you registered for, there is no need to worry. Many retailers provide completion programs that offer discounts on remaining items or keep the registry active for a period of time, ranging from a few months to a few years. This allows friends and relatives to continue purchasing gifts from the registry for other joyous occasions.

16. Don’t feel bad about returning presents

etiquette for wedding registry: exchange presents
Exchanging gifts is acceptable etiquette for a wedding registry – Photo by: The Knot

We’ve all been there: Ordering items online with high hopes that they’ll live up to the picture-perfect expectations. Then, the package arrives, and everyone agrees: it needs to be returned. Items on your registry can also experience the same situation. There is no need to feel obligated to inform the gift giver about your exchange, but it is perfectly acceptable and quite common to replace poor choices with ones that you truly adore.

Wedding Registry Etiquette Tips for Guests

17. When does a guest have to give a wedding gift?

According to wedding gift registry etiquette, you have a year from the wedding day to deliver a present. That being said, the sooner you give them a present, the better. The majority of visitors will send a gift one month before or within one month of the big day.

18. Is it okay to deviate from the registry?

Buy things off the registry list is acceptable wedding registry etiquette for guests
Buy things off the registry list is acceptable wedding registry etiquette for guests

Yes, wedding guests may shop outside the registry under specific circumstances. Having a close connection with the bride or groom might help you give them a distinctive gift. Using your understanding of the couple, buy only goods you know will be essential to them.

The other two situations in which wedding gift registry etiquette allows you to shop outside the registry:

  • If their registration is totally sold out
  • If you just cannot afford anything on their wish list

Wedding registry tips:

Take a close look at their wedding register to determine their couple’s style. Then, shop for something comparable to what they’ve desired.

19. What if the couple’s registry is depleted of gifts?

Guests’ Etiquette For Wedding Registry
Guests’ Etiquette For Wedding Registry

There are many tricky issues when it comes to wedding registry etiquette for guests. If the register is depleted, you may always ask the couple if there is anything more they would want.

Don’t want to bother them throughout the wedding planning? Investigate the items they enrolled for and buy a gift certificate to one of the firms they chose. You may also contribute to their honeymoon fund. Alternatively, a gift card to a restaurant for a date night or a customized piece of art to recall their wedding are all great choices.

20. Can guests purchase a group gift?

It's proper wedding registry etiquette for guests to give a group gift
It’s acceptable wedding registry etiquette to give a group gift

Let’s face it: engaged couples sometimes go a bit fancy with their wedding registries. Occasionally, those wishlists exceed our financial limits. If you wish to purchase one of the more expensive items on their list, get a group of friends to divide the cost. It is very fine to give large-ticket things as a group gift.

21. Should you bring a gift to the bridal shower and the wedding?

Yes, you should always give both a bridal shower and a wedding present — but you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Create a “present budget” if you know you are invited for pre-wedding celebrations in addition to the big day.

Wedding registry tips for guests
Wedding registry tips for guests – Photo by: Ballard Designs

The shower gift should not cost more than 20% of the total sum, with the rest going to the wedding gift. If you’d prefer to go big on a single present, give it to the couple before the shower. Or, at the very least, you can write a beautiful message and let the bride know something is on the way for the big day.

22. If you can’t physically be there, is it okay to give a gift?

A wedding present is always appropriate even if it’s not an obligation to give a gift when you can’t make it. A small gift from their registry, alongside a thoughtful congratulatory note, is more than enough. It’s always considered a nice wedding gift registry etiquette to send something, even if it’s only flowers or a bottle of champagne.

>>> Maybe you are also interested in reading these registry tips:

Viva Wedding Photography hopes you’ve found this post helpful as you build up your wedding gift lists. Understanding wedding registry etiquette can allow you to avoid potential awkwardness. It also helps you know when to follow and/or break conventions in ways that work best for you. If you still have questions, check out the other articles in our Registry Tips category.

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