17 Expert Registry Tips Every Couple Needs to Know

Follow our advice to get the gifts you want most.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Apr 16, 2021

Ready to start your wedding registry? Creating a newlywed wishlist is one of the most anticipated aspects of planning a wedding. After all, you're essentially selecting gifts for your home that other people will buy for you. (When else will you get an opportunity to ask for a luxury grill or the pastel coffee maker that matches your kitchen backsplash?) Plus, filling your newlywed nest with gifts from well-wishers is one of the best ways to signify your new beginning as a married couple. 

There's no denying the importance of a wedding registry, but making one may feel overwhelming at first. Luckily for you, The Knot Registry is the ideal place to register for gifts—not only does it allow you to aggregate all of your online registries across stores, we also have our own store that carries some of the most beloved (and trending) registry items. It's easy to use and keep things in one place, which is something you and your guests will love. 

While there aren't too many strict rules on how to register for a wedding, there are a few etiquette guidelines to keep in mind. With the help of these wedding registry tips, you'll be on your way to creating a wishlist that's perfect for your married life. 

In this article: 

How Does a Wedding Registry Work in 2021? 

Wedding registries have evolved drastically over the years. In the past, it was common to create multiple registries and shop at physical retail stores. While this is still an option, all-in-one registries (like The Knot Registry) make it easier than ever to curate gifts from any store on one list. Plus, universal wishlists allow you to expand your registry beyond physical items. Alternative gifts like cash and experience funds, as well as gift cards and charity donations, are popular choices for couples who don't want (or need) a lot of new physical items. 

So, how does a wedding registry work in 2021? More couples are opting for universal registries that house every gift in one place. (Not only is this easier for you to manage, it simplifies the shopping experience for guests too.) Thanks to all-in-one registry tools like The Knot Registry, you can ask for all kinds of gifts (including items from The Knot Registry Store), from new bathroom towels to a standing mixer to cash for honeymoon excursions and even gift cards for your next Chipotle date night. 

Once you've created your registry, integrate it into your wedding website. This is the best way to share gift information with guests. (Traditional etiquette still indicates that it's not appropriate to put registry information on your invites, but you should include your wedding website—this will indirectly guide guests to your registry.) From there, guests will purchase gifts to be shipped directly to you and your S.O. 

How to Make a Wedding Registry 

Now you know how wedding registries work—but how do you get started? Making a wedding registry is easier than you realize. First, go to TheKnot.com and hover over "Registry" in the top menu bar. Click on "Your Registry," and then press "Start Your Registry." We'll guide you through the entire process of creating your wishlist, selecting items from The Knot Registry Store, and integrating your list into your wedding website. If you need registry gift ideas, browse our page of registry collections for suggestions curated into niche categories like "Most-Wanted Gifts" or "For the Cooking Pros." You can also check out our roundup of the most popular wedding gifts based on our data to see what other couples are asking for. We also recommend checking out The Knot Registry Award winners for products that are vetted by our editors and loved by real couples.

The Wedding Registry Tips You Need to Know

For even more help, we're sharing the top wedding registry tips that every couple needs to know. Follow our expert advice to get the most out of your newlywed wishlist—we promise it'll make for a fulfilling experience. 

1. Time It Right

One of the biggest wedding registry tips to know is that it's completely acceptable to create one as soon as you get engaged. In fact, we recommend making your registry right away. This makes it easier for guests who'd like to purchase a gift for any pre-wedding celebration, like engagement parties or showers, or for those who'd just like to send something as a token of their congratulations.

2. Know Yourself 

It's okay to shy away from traditional registry items. If you never cook at home but love to camp, it makes more sense to register for a tent than to request a crystal gravy boat. But, be open to the fact that your tastes may change in the future. Even though you can't imagine a need at this moment in your life for that gravy boat, it may become indispensable for future Thanksgiving dinners with your in-laws. Take some time to think about your lifestyle now, as well as what it might look like in the future, and select gifts accordingly. You can also use our roundup of the best wedding gifts this year for some preliminary ideas. 

3. Take Stock

One of the most important wedding registry tips is to take inventory with your partner. If you're living together before marriage, you might want to skip traditional items if you already have them in your home. Make a list of what you have, as well as what you still need and want. (Perhaps you already own a simple coffee maker, but if you've been eyeing a brand new espresso machine it may deserve a spot on your wishlist.) Also consider the need for "every day" and "formal" versions of dinnerware, glassware, table linens and serving items. If you love being the go-to house for dinner parties, you might want to register for some extra serving sets for the next time your friends stop by unexpectedly. Taking stock of what you have and what you need is the best way to stay organized and efficient while making registry selections. 

4. Do It Together

You and your partner should register for gifts you'll both enjoy. To decide on what you need, talk about the style of home you'd both like and choose items together. (Need help? Take our wedding registry style quiz for inspo.)  While you might receive input from well-meaning family members and friends, remember that your wedding registry is for your home, not theirs, and such decisions should be made with your partner. Set aside time specifically for your registry to curate a list that feels tailored to both of your interests. 

5. Over-Register

As you begin shopping online, you might wonder exactly how many gifts should be added to your registry. There's an easy way to figure it out, and all it takes is a secret math equation. Simply multiply your guest list by two, and add a few extra. You might worry that over-registering feels greedy, but that's far from the case. It's better to have too many choices than not enough. This also ensures that gifting options won't run low as guests start to purchase presents. 

6. Include Multiple Price Points

A great wedding registry includes gift ideas for all price ranges. Guests will be able to spend different amounts on wedding gifts, so give them plenty of options at a variety of price points. We recommend having gifts that fall between $25 and $200 or more. Our data indicates that the average guest spend on a wedding gift is $120, so keep this in mind as you make selections. Don't shy away from adding a few luxury items, because some guests will want to splurge. (Plus, big-ticket products make for great group gifts too.) But, don't forget to add some budget-friendly options as well. Guests will appreciate your attention to detail. 

7. Update Often

Since it's important to have plenty of gift options at a variety of price points, check your registry often to make sure there are still enough choices for guests. Selections will dwindle as your loved ones buy items leading up to the big day, so check back periodically to make sure there are options at all prices. 

8. Guide the Gift-Giving

A good point to keep in mind when you start your registry is to select products you really want or need first, like a new mattress or a high-tech vacuum. Then, as the items on your checklist start to dwindle, add more. That way you won't be stuck with a fruit basket when instead you really need those extra salad plates.

9. Browse Other Registries

You can definitely steal registry ideas from other couples. It's super easy to find your friends' registries and wedding websites on The Knot. We've also rounded up the most popular registry items by state to help you see what's trending in your area. Use these guides to see what other to-be-weds are asking for, and add some of your favorite selections to your own wishlist. 

10. Stay in Season

If you have longer than one year before the wedding, try to avoid registering for seasonal items that might be replaced in a few months. When guests go to purchase gifts, they may find those things have been discontinued. This is another good reason to check your registry often. If things sell out or get discontinued, find a replacement ASAP. 

11. Ask for Cash

No, really. It's perfectly acceptable to register for money. In fact, we encourage it. Asking for cash used to be a taboo wedding topic. In years past, it was actually deemed inappropriate to ask for monetary gifts. But in 2021, registry etiquette has evolved and cash gifts are more common than ever. You can put cash funds toward anything, from a puppy fund to a kitchen remodel or even newlywed experiences, like cooking classes or concerts. We'll let you in on a secret: Guests want to give wedding gifts that'll actually be used, so if you'd benefit more from a monetary gift than another set of wine glasses, add cash funds to your registry. You'll thank yourself later.  

12. Think Outside the Box

Already have everything you need for the home? Get creative with your registry ideas. Consider asking for gift cards to your favorite restaurants or home decoration stores to enjoy after the wedding. Or, if there's a charity close to your heart, invite guests to make a donation in lieu of sending a gift. You can even set up a honeymoon fund to cover airline tickets or resort activities for your newlywed getaway. It's easier than ever to personalize your registry with gifts that make sense for your lifestyle, so take full advantage of this as you select items. 

13. Ship Smart

Ensure that your registry items can be shipped to your home address. This will spare guests the hassle of going to a store to pick up your gift and then to the post office to send it.

14. Spread The Word

It's not appropriate to flat-out ask for wedding gifts, so don't include registry information on your wedding invitations. Word of mouth is one appropriate way to disseminate this. Your registry info can also be listed on your engagement party and bridal shower invites since the invitation doesn't come from you, but from the person hosting the shower. The best place to share your registry, though, is on your wedding website. Include the link to your custom wedding page on your invites to guide guests to your newlywed wishlist. 

15. Plan for Late Shoppers

Traditional wedding etiquette says that guests have up to one year from your wedding day to buy a gift, so that's at least how long your registry should remain active. Even after you say "I do," make sure your registry still has options for late-gifters. 

16. Weekend Update

Most wedding gifts are bought within two weeks before and two weeks after a wedding. Knowing this, check your registry during this timeframe and add additional items if necessary.

17. Be Gracious

Sending thank-you notes is the most important task on your postwedding to-do list. Thank your guests adequately—a text message or email won't suffice here. Handwritten thank-you notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of arrival. Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding day should be sent within two months of your return from the honeymoon.

Up Next
  • Couple registering from gifts on phone at home
    How COVID Revamped Wedding Registry Gifts