Do: Set up your registry early.
“From the moment you announce your engagement, friends and family will want to send gifts,” says Karena Bullock Bailey, a New York City-based wedding and special events planner.
Don’t: Register at just one location.
Two to three is ideal. If possible, at least one of them should have a brick and mortar store in the areas where many of your guests live―just because you dig the convenience of the web doesn’t mean that Nana feels the same. “The in-store option definitely makes certain guests more comfortable,” confirms Anna Post, author of Do I Have to Wear White? (Collins, $15).
Do: Register for a wide range of gifts at various price points.
People prefer choosing from a large selection: If you have, say, 100 invited guests, you’ll need a minimum of 125 registry items. Registering at one kitchen store, one home goods store, and one department store should cover all the bases. “About a third of your items should be under $50, a third from $50-$150, and the rest $150 and up,” says Bailey. As for the high end? Know your audience: “For one couple, having gifts that max out at $200 would be too much―for another, it’s $1,000-plus,” says Post. “If you’re questioning whether it’s appropriate, others probably will, too.”
Don’t: Reference your registry info on any stationery, such as your save the date or invitation.
You can, however, include the URL for your wedding website―which should contain the details of where you’re registered―on those printed materials. “It’s perfectly acceptable to tell someone where you’re registered if they ask what kind of gift you’d like, but mentioning gifts in any way on your invitations is in very poor taste,” says Sue Fox, author of Etiquette for Dummies.
Do: Request nontraditional items if they reflect you as a couple.
“I have friends who registered at REI―their list included a tent and a canoe, which was perfectly acceptable because they’re outdoor enthusiasts,” says Fox. Wine registries for budding oenophiles and honeymoon registries―where guests can, say, pay for your breakfast in bed while you’re in Fiji―are becoming increasingly popular.
Don’t: Eliminate all time-honored items.
There are limits: Feelings are still very mixed on items such as gadgets and electronics, which don’t fit the old-fashioned criteria as nest-building necessities. “It’s tough to justify something that will be outdated in two years,” notes Bailey. (Note: Any personal items, such as beauty products or clothing, are strictly off-limits.) To avoid ruffling any feathers, throw in at least a handful of traditional items to appease the old-school types who simply won’t be satisfied attending unless it’s with a blender in hand.
Do: Wait to use the presents that arrive before the wedding.
“Heaven forbid, should the event not take place for whatever reason, the rule of thumb is that all the gifts must be returned,” says Post. Lightly scratched service for twelve, anyone?
Don’t: Ask for money outright.
If cash is what you’re after, the only polite choice is to not register anywhere and pray that your guests get the message. Family and friends―not you and your betrothed―can delicately spread the word. “They should use euphemisms for money like, “I know they would love help with a contribution toward the home they’re hoping to buy,” says Post. Just brace yourself for some unwanted salad tongs amid the checks you’ll receive.
Do: Write thoughtful, prompt thank-you notes; e-mails and calls don’t count.
Within six weeks of receiving the gift, write a note that references the specific object and how or why you will enjoy using it. Adds Fox, “Once you start receiving gifts, keep a log noting what you received, from whom, when―plus the date that you sent out the note. It’ll ensure that nothing gets overlooked.” It also makes for a handy reference tool the next time you’re scheduled to see Aunt Tilda and can’t remember if she got you the gravy boat or the juicer.