Wedding Registry 101: How to Ask for Stuff You’ll Actually Use

Lindsay Goldwert
September 11th, 2020 | 5 min
Edgar Castrejon for Upsplash
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In the old days, brides and grooms often entered into marriage with love and little else. Wedding gifts and items on a wedding registry were meant to help build a life at home and fill the cupboards with useful items. For our parents, those pots, pans, and plates may have been the first things they owned as a couple.

Getting deer-in-headlines while holding choosing what you want at Bed Bath and Beyond or Walmart or Zola is a real thing. What do you actually need to build a life with your partner?

“A common mistake couples make is registering before taking the time to assess what they already have, especially If they are combining households,” shopping expert Trae Bodge, told Money Date. “It’s fun to run around with that registry gun, but before you even go to the store (or visit a registry online), take inventory of what you already own and then discuss what you think you will really use.”

Here are some great things to think about before you start building your wedding registry.

DO ask yourself if you even need a wedding registry in the first place

The way we cohabitate and join our lives is always changing and evolving with the times. In the last decade, more and more of us are living with our partners before marriage. That means that we may already be building our wedded lives with a lot of stuff. So if you already have a vacuum cleaner or a nice duvet, do you need to register for another one?

“If you're marrying in your 30’s or older, it’s likely that you already have a lot of the items a couple would traditionally register for, i.e. dishes, pots & pans, silverware,” said Bodge.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to upgrade your old toaster or your burned rice cooker. But If you’re already happy with your kitchenware, bedding, and your towels, maybe think about why you want more of what you already have.

DON’T copy your friends’ fancy registries

“Wait, Jennifer has a $400 espresso maker on her wedding registry. I should have one too!” Calm down and back away from the scanner gun. You’re not in competition with your friends over who can accumulate the most fancy stuff.

“Creating a wedding registry just to keep up with the Joneses is a common mistake, said Bodge. “Try to avoid registering for things just because your friends have them or for items that you think you’re supposed to have.”

It’s easy to go gaga for the big brands we see on people’s Instagam accounts or register for everything on every wedding site’s “must buy” guide. It’s all about your personal style and needs versus what influencers think is essential.

“Register for things that fit your taste and lifestyle rather than ordering by brand name,” said Bodge.

There’s nothing wrong with peeking at your pal’s wedding registry for ideas. After all, your friends may have fun and creative ideas that you haven’t thought of before. But if your idea of a home-cooked meal is Blue Apron or burritos from your favorite Mexican joint, don’t bother asking for the $2,000 12-piece set of copper cookware (yes, that’s a real thing that people register for).

DON’T use your wedding registry as an excuse to get expensive stuff

Whether you’re having a destination wedding or a small, intimate affair at your favorite local restaurant, your friends are probably already forking over cash to attend your wedding. Not only that, they may be spending a lot of money on other people’s weddings. People fly in, buy beautiful clothing to wear, pay for parking, attend bachelor and bachelorette parties. Being a wedding guest is expensive.

Ask yourself if the things that you're registering are just too expensive for your friends and family to buy for you.

“Keeping the budgets of your friends and family in mind when creating a registry is really important,” said Bodge.

Your mom and dad may be happy to spend big on pricier gifts and heck, let them! But give your friends a break and give them a chance to buy you a few useful things without racking up debt on their credit cards.

“Registering for items across a broad range of prices will allow those with tighter budgets to feel like they can participate, while also offering options for those who want to spoil you,” said Bodge.

DO think about what value as a couple

What do you and your partner really love to do together? Some couples love to congregate in the kitchen and cook delicious meals. Others love to travel and save their pennies to visit far-flung places. And frankly, some couples just want to spend all their free time in bed.

Couples who love to create delicious dishes and entertain their friends should consider building their wedding registry around all the things they need to create delicious meals that are made with love. If you love to travel, consider asking for a sturdy set of luggage and a honeymoon fund. And if you love to spend your weekends lazing and loving in bed, soft sheets, a down duvet, and fluffy pillows will make your days and nights heavenly.

When you create your wedding registry think about how much mutual delight you’ll take in each item, how you’ll use it, and the memories that they’ll create. Because really, those are the gifts that your friends and family want to give you.

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