10 Big Registry Etiquette Mistakes You Might Be Making

Here's what not to do when registering.
by Lauren Kay

Not to make you nervous, but there's more to registering than you and your partner running around your favorite stores with a scanner gun. You get to do that too—just make sure you don't commit one of these registry missteps.

Mistake 1: Not Registering at All

Trust us, your guests want to buy you gifts. And no, it's not tacky and it doesn't look like you're "asking" for things. Plus, registering for gifts saves you time and headaches—it tips guests off to your desperate need for matching towels or your love of colorful dinner plates, and it also ensures you won't get lots of things you don't want or need (as in, no weird glass swan figurines from Aunt Jane). Create your registry with The Knot here (and your first gift could be on us during the month of March). 

Mistake 2: Waiting Too Long to Register

It's a good idea to set up a registry soon after you're engaged, particularly if your family or friends are hosting an engagement party. Even if a soiree hasn't been added to the calendar, you may be surprised by the number of people who want to give you a token of congratulations (think: champagne glasses or a silver picture frame for your engagement photos). You can always update your list and add more items at any time (like, before your shower). Most of your guests will be making purchases shortly before your wedding day, so if you establish a registry early in your engagement, check in and add additional items before you say “I do.”

Mistake 3: Not Taking Inventory of Your Own Stuff

You'll want to register for gifts the two of you will both enjoy, today and down the road. To decide on what you need, take inventory of the things you already have and talk about the style of home you'd like to share. Now is a great time to upgrade mismatched wine glasses or ask for a nice set of knives. Consider things like your entertaining style, your hobbies and what your life may look like 10 years from now (perhaps you do need that gravy boat for Thanksgiving and a set of towels for your “guest room”). Then divide and conquer by category—maybe you have strong opinions about bedding and your other half is more concerned about top-of-the-line pans for the kitchen.

Mistake 4: Registering at One Store

Do yourself (and your guests) a favor and register at more than one store. Two to three is a good mix—enough to offer variety in your gifting options, but not so many that it's hard to keep track of what is coming from where. Local mom-and-pop shops and speciality stores are great, but try to choose at least one big-box retailer, like Amazon.com or Bed Bath & Beyond, to make it easy on those guests who may live elsewhere.

Mistake 5: Skipping the Fine Print

Before registering anywhere, find out about the store's policies. Your registry should be convenient for both you and your guests, so make sure your registry will be available online or that guests can place orders over the phone (if you've selected a local shop). Ask if the store will ship to your desired address, and find out about the exchange and return policies. This last part is crucial—you don't want to be stuck with duplicate gifts or come back from your honeymoon to find out you only have days to exchange items you don't want. On the positive side, there are a lot of incentive programs as well. Some stores will even hold purchased gifts and ship them all at once after the wedding (just like Christmas morning!), and many places offer registry completion discounts (like 10 percent off everything remaining), so check for that too.

Mistake 6: Registering for Only Expensive Pieces

We're not saying you shouldn't put that amazing (and pricey) pro-stand mixer on your registry. But you should have items in a variety of price ranges, so all of your guests can choose something they can afford. Your friends and family may be purchasing both a shower and wedding gift, so register for items that fall into the $50 and under category too. After the wedding, you could always exchange a few $50 gifts for a bigger-ticket item you both love.

Mistake 7: Only Registering for the Essentials

Household items such as china, crystal and flatware are longstanding registry asks. But you can register for anything from furniture to sporting equipment and luggage. Take advantage of your options and register for items you'll really use—be it a new drill or road bike. And if you're both in agreement about a pricier addition to your home, like a new grill, put it on the registry. Group gifting is trending! All in all, don't be afraid to make your list full of things you'll be excited to receive—even if they are a little unconventional by your grandmother's standards.

Mistake 8: Not Putting Your Registry on Your Wedding Website

You can't assume guests will know where you've registered—but you also shouldn't be the one to tell them. If someone is hosting a shower in your honor, they may list registry information on the invitation. But the very best place to put your registry info is on your wedding website. It's where everyone will look to find more details, like accommodations, so it's only natural that your registry should be there too.

Mistake 9: Registering Only Once

Your registry needs to be maintained throughout the time you're engaged and planning your wedding. Revisit it often and update it with additional selections as gifts are purchased to give guests a range to choose from. A good rule of thumb: Have more items on your registry than guests at your wedding to accommodate for engagement party and shower gifts and to give people choices. Many registries make this easy and will send you an email or notification when a gift has been purchased, so if that's an option, take it. You can also aggregate all of your various wish lists with The Knot, giving you one main check point when it comes to gifts. Not only will it help you track your thank-you notes, it's a good reminder to update your list as well.

Mistake 10: Procrastinating on Thank-You Cards

The most important part of receiving gifts is showing your gratitude. Let your guests know their gifts have arrived, and do it promptly. Thank-you notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of their arrival. Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding day should be sent within three months of your return from your honeymoon. Keep a list of what you've received alongside your guest list (where your friends' and family's addresses also live). Designate a space in your home where you can keep stationery at the ready—a subtle reminder to pen notes—and set aside time each week to chip away at the list. Be sure to mention the gift by name and share a few personal details too (like how you plan to use it or why you love the color so much).

Haven't created your registry yet? Now's the perfect time—because your first gift could be officially on us. Yep, that's right—during the month of March, all you have to do is create a registry on The Knot with one of our retailers and add at least one product valued at $100 or less. Come April, keep an eye on your email to see if you've won. 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.

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