Wedding Registry

The Smart Way to Set up a Wedding Registry

Just like with anything else in life, you can always choose to do things the easy way and the hard way. This is definitely the case when it comes to setting up a wedding registry. Make no mistake about it-you can set up wedding gift registries that end up doing you and your soon-to-be spouse no good. The whole point of wedding gift registries is to guide your wedding guests to give you stuff that you can actually use. Unfortunately, too many couples end up finding out the hard way that they can’t take setting up a wedding registry casually. Keep the following tips in mind so your wedding registry will be a success. By success, of course, I mean you get exactly the kind of stuff you’d like.

Step #1: Set Up the Wedding Registry Together

The most common mistake couples make when writing up their wedding registry ‘wish list’ is that one partner delegates the task of setting up a registry to the other partner. Sure, you might be busy. Sure, you might not be big into such detailed work but remember that if you delegate this to your wold be spouse, you give up your right to raise a fuss if he or she ‘did it wrong.’ You simply can’t criticize your partner if you didn’t choose to play any role in setting up the list. Not only is this unfair but it actually gets your marriage off on a bad foot.

To avoid unnecessary drama, you need to set up the wedding registry together. Set up a few hours to do this. Hours? Yes-hours. You might think that agreeing on wedding registry items would be straightforward and simple. Wrong. You are to two totally different people and you have different priorities. Give yourself the time time to hash through the items. Otherwise, if you don’t budget enough time, you might end up agreeing to a list neither of you are completely happy about.

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Step #2: Agree on a List of Gifts

Coming to an agreement might seem like a simple matter. Unfortunately, this is never the case. You actually have to look at your wedding registry setup experience as a great opportunity to learn more about each other’s priorities and values. You might think you have your future spouse all figured out. Boy, are you mistaken. It is precisely times like setting up a wedding registry where you get a clear idea of how your partner’s mind works and what is truly important to him or her. You also get a glimpse of what is important to him or her and, indirectly, how he or she views your upcoming marriage. This is why it is a good idea to look at the whole process of setting up wedding gift registries as a ‘marriage building exercise.’ Don’t view it as some empty formality or unnecessary detail you can blow off or rush through.

Whenever you are working with your partner to agree on something, you are actually engaging each other on a deep personal level. You get an opportunity to know each other more. You get an opportunity to focus on what’s important to each of you and to also strengthen your marriage. Why? Agreeing on your wedding gift registries’ lists is actually a test of your ability to negotiate with each other and your ability to get along. If anything, it is a great preview for how you’ll handle possible disagreements or joint decisonmaking in the future. Use this opportunity to find agreement without compromising or being a pushover. The key is to lovingly come to an agreement over a list both of you are happy with.

A great strategy in coming to an agreement is to meet about the list on neutral ground. Talk about your list outside your home. Talk about it in a coffee shop or somewhere outside. Also, you might want to chop up the time you devote to discussing your list. Always keep open the possibility that you might not agree on the list the first time you try. Give yourselves enough time to keep meeting again, in an informal and casual setting, to try to filter and clean up your list. The more you meet, the closer you’ll get to agreement and the less pressure there is. The key is to produce a list that both of you can be truly happy with. Don’t feel that your arm was twisted or you compromised too much. Remember, this exercise really is the first taste you’ll have of your life with your partner. Make it pleasant. Make it count.

Step #3: Be Realistic on your Choice of Gifts

Now that you both have come up with a list, the next step is to filter the list. Remember, just because you name it, doesn’t mean you can realistically claim it. Life doesn’t work that way-you can’t always get what you want. The ideal isn’t always possible. If you want to increase the possibility that you will actually get the items you put on your wedding registry list, you need to make sure your choice of items are completely realistic. How do you determine what is ‘realistic’? Keep reading below.

Cost is always a factor. Keep in mind that cost is always a factor. The more expensive an item is, the higher the likelihood people won’t step up to buy that item for you. It really is that simple. Economics always plays a role. Make sure you pick items that won’t burn too big a hole in people’s pockets. Moreover, remember that is usually your closest friends and relatives that buy the most expensive gifts. Usually, you don’t need to put such gifts in a register to ‘remind’ them. They already know what you need as far as expensive gifts are concerned.

Pay attention to who you invite. If you invited lots of Dot Com millionaires, hedge fund managers, and other people who typically have lots and lots of cash, you can get away with putting more pricey items on your list. Of course, this is all based on the assumption that they will actually show up to your wedding or they will buy a gift. Still, the overall financial capability of the people you’ve invited should play a role in how you select your items. For example, if you invited mostly people just out of college, don’t expect someone to step up and give you a very expensive gift. Chances are, most of your invitees are simply trying to get by from one paycheck to the next.

The downside to putting pricey gifts on your registry listing is that this creates a ‘push’ for guests to focus on the ‘cheap end’ of your list. Don’t think that if you stack your wedding registry with mid-priced to expensive items that people will automatically buy mid-priced items if they were ‘pushed’ by the expensive items. There might be a push alright-right off your list. People might just go on their own and buy a cheap gift and call it a day. Don’t let that happen. Give people enough cost diversity with your wedding registry. This increases the likelihood that you’ll get the gifts you actually want.

Portability is also important. Another key factor you should consider when drawing up your wedding registry items is how bulky or portable the items are. Obviously, the items must be light and portable enough for your wedding guest to lug to the wedding reception. This factor actually narrows down your gift choices quite a bit. Sure, it would be nice to get a new living room couch as a wedding gift but you probably shouldn’t hold your breath for one.

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Step #4: Focus on Probability when Picking out your Desired Gifts

After considering all the factors listed above, keep in mind the likelihood that your guest will actually pick out your desired gifts. This is very important. It’s one thing to lay out all your ideal gift, getting them is another matter altogether.

The best approach would be to get all your dream items together and filter them based on the factors above. Once you have a list, filter more materials. The whole point is to play a numbers game. Assume that only a portion of the gifts you actually asked for will be bought by your gifts. By packing your list full of ideal items that are portable, affordable, and you actually would like as a couple, you increase the likelihood that enough of your items will be bought.

The key to step 4 is to not bet the farm that all your items will be bought. Expect only a fraction to be bought. If you set up your list the right way, even if the percentage of items your guests actually bought is quite low, you should still have enough gifts to make the gift registry worth it. At the very least, you can save quite a bit of money on the products you need to buy to start life as a married couple.

Centralizing your registry is crucial to making probability work for you. If you don’t centralize your registry so that bought items at one store are deducted from all other wedding gift registries, your probability calculations will be shot. Completely. People might buy duplicate stuff and instead of your probability strategy working for you, it would be completely worthless. A little centralized tracking can do wonders in making sure the vast majority of gifts your guests give you actually meet your needs and wants.

Step #5: Set Up Registries at More than One Department Store

One of the most common mistakes made by most couples setting up wedding registries is setting up the registry at only one department store. Bad move. First, your guests probably come from all over the place. People who live very far from the department store you set up the registry at will be hard pressed to shop at that department store. In many cases, they are ‘pushed’ to basically get you gifts that you didn’t ask for. They completely bypass your gift registry. This is, of course, bad news because the gift they decide to give you might actually be the same as the gifts brought by many other guests. All these problems could have been avoided if you set up registries at many department stores.

The more stores you set up registries with, the better. Why? People live all over the place. Also, not all department stores have a lot of branches. When you place registries at many different department stores, you broaden your geographic reach and your guests have a higher likelihood of actually using your registry listing.

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Step #6: Use an Online Registry to Manage your Gift Registry Listings

After you’ve set up the registries, make sure you manage them with an online registry manager. This is a very important step. Why? You need to centralize the listings because you don’t want duplicates. In other words, when you have registries with many stores, you would want the gifts bought by guests at one store to be ‘deducted’ from the list of other stores. This prevents duplication. This increases the likelihood that your visitors would only give you gifts that you will actually use because you get only one of a kind.

Make no mistake about it-gift duplication is a very common problem if you don’t centralize your gift registries. Make sure you set an online registry that coordinates all store registries. This can save you lots of time and helps you avoid the hassle of returning duplicate gifts.


The multi-step process above might seem like overkill. It isn’t. If you are not systematic and methodical regarding your gift registries, you might end up having to return lots of stuff. You might end up with lots of stuff you don’t really need or lots of duplicate gifts. Moreover, you might end up fighting over your planning of your gift registry. Follow all the steps above so you can avoid unnecessary drama.

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