Wedding Registries

By Kristen Castillo

October 31, 2012 5 min read

A gourmet cooking set? Check. A new digital camera? Check. Hiking gear? Check.

Modern wedding registries have a mix of the traditional and the not-so-traditional. It's not like it was when your parents got married and they received a toaster, a slow cooker or a blanket. These days, couples want their wedding registries to reflect their wants and their needs.

"People want to get you things you want to use," says Nancy Lee of, a universal wedding registry, who finds couples registering for gifts such as hiking boots, his-and-her mountain bikes, sleeping bags, dishes, lawn mowers and his-and-her iPads.

"People are going to buy you a gift," says Lee. "You may as well make sure they buy you something you need."

*Making a List

According to a 2011 Brides magazine American Wedding Survey, 93 percent of couples register for wedding and shower gifts, with 82 percent registering with in-store and online retailers.

The same study found the average couple joins about two registries and start registering about seven months before the wedding.

"Registering far enough in advance allows family and friends to consult your registry for other milestones in the months leading up to your wedding, including wedding showers, birthdays and holidays," says Vicki Shamion of Kohl's, which offers a "Wedding Wishes" gift registry.

Be sure to register for a variety of gifts, available in a range of price points.

"Give people a lot of choices," says Lee. "Have things in every price. Make it something guests are comfortable giving you."

Shamion agrees, saying, "It is important to give guests options on a registry to allow them the opportunity to pick out something special regardless of their budget."

*Where Are You Registered?

It's a popular question every bride and groom is asked: Where are you registered?

Family and friends want to get you a gift to celebrate your wedding, but what about etiquette? While you don't want to look like you're begging for gifts, fielding this question is pretty common. Simply have your bridesmaids or family members spread the word about your registry.

For a bolder approach, some couples even post their registry information on their wedding website or on their social media pages, like Facebook and Twitter. offers couples registry announcement cards to share the information, as well as the "Thank You List" feature, which allows you to match gifts you receive to their gift giver.

*Cash, Please!

Many couples want money so they can save for big-ticket items like a house or car, and others want to pay off loans and other debts.

Still, asking for cash can be a tough request. Sites such as help soften the request, however, by letting you to set up a "Cash Gift Service," allowing you to label the fund to tell guests how the money will be used, such as "Honeymoon to Paris" or "First Home Fund."

*Registry Incentives

Many retailers offer brides and grooms discounts and other special offers for choosing their registry.

For example, with a Kohl's registry, "from the day couples register until the day of their wedding, 10 percent rewards are earned on eligible gifts purchased from their registry," says Shamion. "If guests purchase $2,000 in gifts off a registry, the couple automatically receives a certificate for $200 -- and as always, it's good toward anything in the store."

Couples also receive a 15 percent discount (for up to three months after the wedding) on items remaining on their Kohl's registry.

*Returns's Lee says most registry return rates are low -- about 1 percent.

That's likely because the bride and groom have preselected the items they want to receive.

"Couples who return items purchased off of their Kohl's wedding registry will benefit from our hassle-free return policy and can exchange anything they don't want, anytime, no questions asked," says Shamion.

Returns through are easy, too. A spokesman says, "Couples are sent an gift card for the value of the product to be used on anything they'd like, and the gift giver won't be notified that his gift was returned."

Whether you register for kitchen towels, a new TV or camping gear, don't forget to send a handwritten thank-you note to all your guests showing your gratitude for their wedding gift.

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