Wedding Registry Tips From an Industry Insider
Do you really need fine china? How many stores should you register at? Here, an expert answers the most common questions about bridal registries.
When it comes to planning a wedding, building the registry is one of the most exciting (and sometimes daunting) things a couple will do together. Martina Wang, senior manager for wedding and gift registries at Williams-Sonoma, shares advice for creating a registry that’s both practical and appropriate.
How many gifts should couples register for?
We suggest you register for two to three gifts per guest. So if you’re inviting 150 people, you should have at least 300 items on your registries. Count things like plates, glasses, and flatware individually, even though guests will probably give you multiples of those items—the idea is just to get a broad list going. Check your registries periodically, especially after your bridal shower and as you get closer to your wedding date, and add items if the options start thinning out. Try to maintain an equal ratio of low, medium, and high price points.
How many different stores should couples register at?
It’s a good idea to register with two to three different stores so guests can shop where they’re comfortable, or where it’s most convenient.
It’s so easy to buy and send gifts online these days—do couples really need to make sure all of their guests have access to a brick-and-mortar store?
It’s true that more and more guests are buying gifts online. In a matter of minutes, you can browse product reviews, make a selection, type a gift message, and send the item to the address the couple has provided. Still, there are people who prefer to shop in person, so we recommend registering with at least one retailer that has a brick-and-mortar presence in most areas. Many companies have also streamlined the in-store buying process. For instance, we give customers the option of shipping items from our stores directly to the bride and groom. We also offer free gift-wrapping on items purchased in our stores; there’s a small fee for this service when you buy online.
What advice do you have for couples who already own the basics, but are in need of bigger-ticket items?
This question comes up a lot. Many couples have kitchen and household essentials they’re happy with, but would really like to have some new furniture or a grill. The first thing I would say is to register for gift cards you can put toward those pricier items. A nice perk associated with our program is that our cards are also redeemable at our sister companies, Pottery Barn and West Elm. Secondly, go ahead and put things like a sofa, or patio furniture, on your registry. Many people like to go in on big items together. Just be sure you also have a good ratio of lower-priced gifts, so all guests can find something they’re comfortable with. You can have family members and close friends spread the word about what you’re in the market for, if guests ask. Another thing to keep in mind is that many companies offer discounts on items remaining on your registry after your wedding day. Our program gives you 10 percent off all products for the six months following your event. On a $2,000 sofa, that’s a significant savings.
What’s one fabulous item that should be on every couple’s list?
Every couple should register for white porcelain dinnerware. It’s extremely durable, dishwasher and microwave-safe, and it has a beautiful, classic look that works for everyday, as well as dressier occasions. We hear both in our product reviews, and from customers in our stores, that this is something couples are really happy they asked for.
What’s something couples often leave off the registry, but shouldn’t?
Many couples debate about whether to register for a separate set of formal china and glassware. In my opinion, these items should definitely be on your list. It’s a wonderful experience to break out a collection of gold-rimmed plates and crystal stemware on holidays and special occasions. Registering for these pieces is also a nice way to include guests in milestones, like your first Thanksgiving together. Another thing to remember is that you’ll probably be hosting more in the years to come. We often hear from couples, five or ten years down the road, who say their fine entertaining pieces are their favorite wedding gifts.