It’s the key to finding the perfect (and yes practical) gift.

By Dawn Perry
Updated March 29, 2017
Paint Brush Thank You Card Set
Recipients will love this blush-colored envelope that opens up to pretty gold stripes and a simply sweet message inside. To buy: $20 for 10, November 2014
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Is your calendar stacked with bridal showers in the coming months? Are you using the bulk of this year’s vacation days traveling to weddings near and far? Have you started perusing Rent the Runway for the season’s latest black tie optional options? (Truth: it’s never optional.) Then you have some gift buying to do, my friend.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually have a year from the wedding date to send a gift. (Whoops!). Although, as a new bride of nine months, I wouldn't turn my nose up at a late entry. But too often in my life have 11 months gone swiftly by only to leave me wondering, “did I ever send that cashmere throw?” Best to cross the gift off the list ASAP, that is, upon receipt of invitation.

The good news is that you probably don’t have to move from where you’re sitting right now to get it done. Most couples have already picked out exactly what they want and included easy to use links. They’ve even gone so far as to tell you how many of a thing they want. And the color. And the size! This is the beauty of the wedding registry.

Thoughtful pairs (or at least one half of those pairs) have likely gone to great pains to include on their registry a balanced mix of tasteful home goods, kitchen appliances, even some “cash items”, all at a variety of prices. Registry sites like Zola and Honeyfund make it easy to register for hard cash without it seeming tacky—a great way to curate an already well-stocked home or kitchen if, say, the two of you work in food. Those services can even make it easy to cover the cost of a bangin’ (sorry) honeymoon. They’ll let you split up the cost of a “Day Of Sailing On The Mediterranean” into five smaller guest-friendly payments.

I got married last summer and even with all those options (we registered on Zola), it still baffled me that some well-meaning friends, relatives, and associates insisted on gifting off registry. Perhaps an engraved silver frame, perfect for a wedding announcement, is exactly what you wanted, but it’s just not our style (nor did we plan to send a wedding announcement—ya’ll were there!). And yes, we like to travel, and yes, we like to eat, but please reserve all candy dishes (ash trays?) with some reference to those facts for someone else. We’d rather you help us pay for the actual trip.

In no way do I want to sound ungrateful. We received a couple off-registry gifts that we really love—custom bowls from a friend who makes pottery, a check made out to “The Duckors.” I simply want to encourage you to be practical and be a good gift-giver. No one wants more stuff and no one, especially newlyweds, want to find nor do they likely have, storage space for things they won’t use or don’t want to display. The registry makes it easy. Stick to it. No need to think outside the box, no need to make a statement or stand out from the crowd. You’ve been invited to the celebration because we want you at the wedding. The real gift is in your attendance, but if you insist on contributing (thank you so much!) my advice is to just stick to the registry. And when in doubt, cash never hurts.

Going to a wedding where the couple didn't register? Check out our thoughtful wedding gift ideas here.