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Bridal Registry Basics

Before setting up your wedding gift registry, browse this guide to determine when to register, how to choose your stores, and what to register for.

When to Create your Wedding Gift Registry

Aim to register at least 6 months before the wedding. Remember, there may be engagement parties, showers and other pre-wedding festivities where gift-giving is appropriate. Help out your guests by providing them with some options.

Where to Set up Your Bridal Registries

Think about what stores you like and patronize frequently. If you will be creating a more traditional bridal registry, a good bet is choosing an all-inclusive department store for items like china, glassware and flatware and also choosing a homegoods specialty store (Pier 1, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel etc.) There is no hard fast rule about the number of stores you can choose for your gift registry, but 2-4 is a good number. Before making your final selections, consider the store’s wedding registry policies:

Does the store carry an array of items and price ranges? More importantly, do you actually like their selection?

Does the store have a registry department or handle a lot of wedding registries? If so, you can expect the store to be knowledgeable and able to offer guidance and assistance along the way.

What is the purchase process like for your guests? Does the store have locations that are convenient for the majority of gift-givers? Will your bridal registry be available online? Can your list be faxed? How long will the gift registry be kept active after the wedding? (technically, it should be at least one year)

How long does it take for a purchased item to be reflected on your bridal registry? How easy is it for you to make modifications to your list?

Many stores offer a completion program, allowing the bride and groom to purchase anything left on their gift registry at a discount.

What to Register For

Again, there is no rule that says you have to fill your bridal registry with china and flatware. However, please remember that these wedding gifts will be with you for the rest of your life. Even if you are not the entertaining types and dinnertime takes place on the couch with paper plates, fast forward to holiday meals and social events of the future. It’s a good idea to have at least a set of 12 matching place settings - whether formal or casual - so that you won’t find yourself limited down the road.

Typical wedding registries are divided into: china (formal and everyday), stemware (formal and everyday), barware (formal and everyday), flatware (formal and everyday), linens, kitchen appliances and gift items.  Review our complete wedding gift registry checklist

How to Spread the Word About Your Wedding Registry

It is never appropriate for the bride and groom to include gift registry information with invitations. They can, however, be included in other pre-wedding party invitations—since the bride and groom typically do not host those. Tell your closest friends and family and anyone who asks where you are registered, and they will spread the word. If you have a wedding website, you can also post your bridal registry information there.  For more etiquette advice, consult our complete wedding etiquette guide.