Tips on setting up your wedding gift registry
As we wrap up the gift-giving season (pun totally intended!), I thought it might be a fitting time to tackle the topic of how we did the gift registry for our wedding… and how it turned out! Hopefully it’s useful advice and inspiration for those soonlyweds not sure where to start on how to set up a wedding gift registry.
We began working on our gift registry about nine months before the big day, in that per- iod of time after we had booked all of our wedding day vendors but it was still too early to settle on the final decorations, cake design and hairstyles.
So where to begin with a wedding gift registry? The first challenge we encount- ered is geography: my groom and I live in his country, on the other side of the world to my home country, and my home country would be the location for the wedding. With my groom and I traveling so far, and our suitcases already full of wedding bits and pieces, we would have no space (or baggage weight allowance!) for bringing back presents after our nuptials. We also knew that the 20 guests travelling from my groom’s country for the wedding would not be keen to schlep wedding gifts to the other side of the world. Several of those guests had already asked us what would be happening with gifts.
As such, the best solution would be to ask our guests to not bring physical gifts to the wedding. This meant guests who would see us in person before or after the wedding (guests who live in my groom’s country) could give us physical gifts, but other guests (from my country) would really only be able to give us very tiny, very light and non-fragile presents, or “virtual” gifts like cash or gift cards. From this we realized that we would need two gift registries: one for each country!
We started with the easier task of setting up the wedding registry for physical gifts. Well, we thought it’d be easy until we sat down and tried brainstorming: we had been living together four years, what items did we need that we didn’t already own? We came up with bupkis. 😦 After much hemming and hawing, we decided to use our registry to upgrade our existing household items to some- thing a little nicer. We came up with chef’s knives, wine glasses, a frying pan, a nicer cutlery set and a coffee pot… but all those wouldn’t be enough gift ideas for our number of guests.
So what else could we add? A standard wedding gift is china… but would we even want china? We don’t host Christmas dinners or fancy parties, so what would we use it for? After much debate, and several times concluding we Definitely Do Not need china, we added a set to the registry… which suddenly gave lots of gift options to our guests! A china set also gave gift ideas in a range of prices, like large serving dishes for generous grandparents, and a tiny milk jug for guests looking to spend less. As china features many cups, plates, bowls and such to reach a full set, we decided to make it the focus of the registry, and add other items when we could see the china was being bought up.
We chose a high-end department store for our gift registry, and one which is very common for wedding registries. The store unfortunately has a poor website that doesn’t enable customers to buy online, but the store chain has locations all over the country so our guests could still access our gift suggestions easily.
The Reflective Groom and I then turned to my home country, and what gift sugg- estions to offer guests there, considering we would not be able to bring back much by way of physical presents. We thought it would be impolite to simply ask for cash, and we wouldn’t be in the country long enough to use up any currency or local gift cards anyway. Hrm…
In our registry research, we came across honeymoon registries: online services where guests “buy” the newlyweds a honeymoon activity – like a fancy dinner, night in a hotel or hot-air balloon ride – but in fact simply deposit funds into an account, and the bride and groom later use those funds to purchase that activity themselves. Huzzah! Perfect for our situation! Using a honeymoon registry meant we could avoid receiving cash we couldn’t use, and that guests could feel like they’re actually buying a meaningful gift and not simply handing over imp- ersonal cash. It would mean we have a lot of money in an account in my country, but figured we could use early deposits toward wedding bills, to minimize how much money we have to transfer internationally.
On honeymoon registries the happy couple can list gifts, add pictures and de- scriptions, and divide exp- ensive items into smaller chunks so they are more affordable for guests. Serv- ices differ in the payment methods they offer (eg, credit card, PayPal and/or cheque), if guests without internet can access it (eg, via phone or fax), and whether the service holds the funds or sends it directly to your account. Services charge a handling fee, either a larger one-off fee paid by the couple or a smaller fee to the guest per transaction. The Reflective Groom and I thought it rude to charge guests on top of them paying for a gift, so paid the fee ourselves. The serv- ice we chose would hold the funds for us, with two transfers to our own account included in the price, but additional transfers would cost extra.
So we set up our honeymoon registry, and added estimated prices for flights, car rental and hotels. Hmm… and what else? Our honeymoon would take place ten months after the wedding, so we hadn’t looked into specific activities, and didn’t have time to do so now. Wikitravel to the rescue! 😀 We perused top-level tourist activities like famous museums and tours… but again ran out of ideas. It soon dawned on us that this registry could be more than just our honeymoon, since it was all virtual gifts we would buy later ourselves anyway. We added a dustbuster, saucepans, baking trays, and that old standard of Egyptian cotton sheets. The Reflective Groom and I had talked about upgrading our furniture, so added a shelf and coffee table, divided into smaller cost chunks. That inspired us to do the same with other expensive items, like a GPS, coffee machine and Kindle. Done!
How we communicated it
The next question was how to let our guests know about our gift registries… without, of course, seeming presumptuous, rude or gift-grabby! We had read several times that it’s considered poor etiquette to include registry details on the invitation, and we had already sent out the invitations anyway. Our other option was the wedding website we had already set up with all the information for our guests, which we had included a link to at the bottom of our invitation.
So, once the registries were finished, we simply added a page about them to our website. We were still con- cerned about being for- ward, so at the top of the page wrote, “What we want most for our wedding is to have all of our friends and family together; it’s your presence, not your pres- ents, that’s most important to us!” And below that: “For those thinking of a gift, we understand there’s con- fusion about whether to bring gifts to the wedding, and whether we have space for gifts on our way back. To make things easier, we have set up two registries: one for those in the groom’s country, and one for the bride’s country.” We then added two paragraphs explaining each registry and the log-in details.
We weren’t sure how often guests would check our wedding website, so at the same time we also added pages introducing the bridal party, decrypting the dress code and explaining transportation. After those pages were ready, we sent an email to guests notifying them that new information was available on our web- site. We also let our parents and bridal party know the ins and outs of the regist- ries, since all the Emily Post literature informed us that guests would check with these people about gifts rather than ask the bride and groom directly.
Phew! So that’s how we went with setting up our wedding gift registries! Tune in next week to find out how everything turned out with our registries and gifts… and if you’re curious about when another couple started receiving gifts and how many they got!
(Second image from Table and Home.)
How did you set up the gift registries for your wedding? Did you choose physical gifts, and what items did you add to it? Or did you jump on the trend for honeymoon registries and virtual gifts?