Complete Guide to Wedding Registry Etiquette and Traditions

One of the earliest tasks to complete as a newly engaged couple is curating your dream wedding registry. Before you start adding pots, pans, cookware, and more to your list, there are wedding registry traditions and etiquette you’ll want to follow. Make your registry experience as easy as possible with these suggestions. 


What is a Wedding Registry? 

A wedding or bridal registry is a personal, curated list of gifts an engaged couple creates to make the wedding gift experience easier for guests. Couples can either use an online service or go in person to register in real life. The sky’s the limit with wedding registry items—everything from bed linens to Turkey Toothpick Holders can be put on your wedding registry list. 


5 Timeless Wedding Registry Traditions 

Wedding registries have been around for the past hundred years, and with that history comes tradition. If these haven’t been passed down in your family, take a look at these five popular traditions as you register:  

  1. Sending gifts
  2. Displaying gifts
  3. Using gifts
  4. Registering for wedding showers
  5. Hostess gifts


1. Where Should Wedding Registry Gifts Be Sent? 

It’s a long-standing tradition for brides-to-be to send wedding gifts to her mother’s address. Her mother will display them there on the dining room table or living room for the engagement period.  
Now, in modern times, tradition has swayed a bit. Plenty of couples have the wedding registry gifts sent straight to their address to avoid having to transport them. But even then, we enjoy it when couples gather all the gifts in one place in the house to keep a glimmer of the tradition alive. 
Pro tip: If you are traveling during the wedding timeline and may not be at home, we suggest sending them to a secure location, like a P.O. box, so your precious packages aren’t left on your doorstep too long. 


2. How Do You Display Wedding Registry Gifts? 

If you’re a fan of tradition (like we are!), and you want to admire all your new treasures during your engagement period, we enjoy displaying gifts where everyone can see them. A great place for this is the formal dining room on the table. Remember to keep the cards with their gifts to remember who gave them to you. 
If you’re short on space or want to break tradition, there is no need to display your gifts for all to see. After the honeymoon, you and your loved ones can enjoy them when they're all unwrapped. 


3. When Should You Unwrap Wedding Registry Gifts? 

Depending on whether or not you choose to display your wedding gifts, you can either open them as you receive them in order to display or wait until after the honeymoon. If you do decide to open them as they come in, that’s up to you, but something about the tradition and experience itself of opening, unboxing, and setting up the new additions for your home together feels like the perfect start to married life.  
Skip the post-honeymoon blues and give yourselves something to look forward to! When you return, plan a dinner party to host your friends and family to use and show off your new home goods. Prep the meal with your new cookware, choose serveware to use, and enjoy eating off your new dinnerware, like the Signature White 4 Piece Place Settings! 
Pro tip: As you start to open your wedding registry gifts, corral them into one area of the house to make a note of what you’ve received and what you haven’t. On your own time, you can start filling in the holes of your wedding registry list with items you still want and need.  


4. Wedding Shower Traditions 

Wedding showers are parties intended to “shower” the couple with gifts for the home to help them set up their new lives together. Generally, the presents given at a wedding shower are shopped from the wedding registry you create.  
Traditionally, there would be a bridal shower, where female friends and family members would advise the bride and help her set up her new home. In modern times, with the knowledge that many couples live together before the wedding, wedding showers have evolved to celebrate the couple together.  


5. Traditions for Wedding Shower Hostess  

Normally, the wedding shower host is the maid of honor and bridesmaids, but nowadays, it can be any trusted family or friend the bride and groom choose, like the bride or groom’s mom or aunts.  
Many people wonder if they should bring a hostess gift in addition to their wedding registry gift. You should never attend an event empty-handed, so it’s a great idea to gift something that aligns with the shower theme or their personality as a thank-you for hosting. Something small like a bottle of wine or a Signature White Ruffle Vase. 


The Etiquette of Registering 

Understanding the etiquette behind the list is essential as you begin creating your wedding registry: 
  • Consider your guest list 
  • Support local 
  • Registering timeline 
  • Thank-you notes 
  • Price points 


Consider Your Guest List When Registering 

Who you invite to your wedding has everything to do with how you register and the items you register for. If your guest list is quite large, you can make an extensive dream wish list, but if it’s on the smaller side, you may want to be more selective about the wedding registry items you choose.  
Take a look at your guest list when picking a place to register. Some guests may prefer to shop in person at a store, so consider registering for a brand that has a location in your hometown to make the gifting experience easier. If you have more of a younger crowd, registering online may be easiest for you and your guests. You can always register at more than one place, so there are options for every guest. 
While you don’t want to stuff your wedding registry with random items just to allow every guest to shop for something off your registry, understanding your number of guests will help you decide when you’re on the fence about adding something you may want. We feel it’s better to err on the side of more because, post-wedding, you can always return items to get credit to spend on other gifts you wanted! You’ll also find you’ll want to register for some bigger-ticket items, and you should. Don’t be scared to add expensive, dream items—someone may swoop in and purchase them, and it’s not uncommon for groups to go in on larger presents.  


Support Local Stores on Your Wedding Registry 

While we enjoy some of the timeless, big brands, your wedding registry is the perfect excuse to support local businesses. Whether you’ve had your eye on artisanal home décor or stunning glassware, local shops in your area are the perfect, unique thing to add to a registry list. It also makes it easier for friends and family who don’t enjoy shopping online.  


Decide When to Start and Send Out Your Wedding Registry 

There are varying beliefs on how far in advance you should start your wedding registry. We think it’s a good idea to start your registry before you send your Save the Dates. That way, you can continue to make tweaks and adjustments as the weeks tick by.  
In general, it’s a good idea to send your wedding registry to your guests before the wedding shower so they know what gifts to get. If you plan to receive gifts for the engagement party, we suggest you send it out before that. For proper etiquette, give your guests at least a few weeks before the wedding to choose a gift for your big day. 


Thank-You Notes for Wedding Registry Gifts 

Show your gratitude the old-fashioned way with thank-you notes. While handwriting each card may seem time-consuming, this is an absolute must for wedding registry etiquette. Everyone who attended your celebration and/or gave you a present deserves a thank you note. 
You can use a thoughtful and repeatable format for the thank-you notes as long as you make each one slightly personal. First, address each guest by name, whether to an individual or a family. Then, express your appreciation for their attendance on your wedding day and mention the exact gift they gave you. Finally, take the time to personalize each card even slightly to show your guests the same love they’ve just given you.  
After watching our family get married (congratulations Mary Parker and Logan!), we’ve learned that these should be done earlier than later. Keep up doing these in smaller groups throughout your engagement. Don’t wait until they all pile up, or you'll have to do them all at once—just trust us.  


Consider Different Price Points on Your Wedding Registry 

The big question is, should you pay attention to the cost of the wedding registry items? The short answer is yes. But you don’t have to overthink it. As you add items, ensure you have a wide range of price options so everyone can be included. While your loved ones would be overjoyed to spoil you rotten, everyone has a different gift budget they can afford.  
The value of a gift is not tied to the price tag, and each guest will approach your wedding registry with a different price point in mind. Guests that do want to spend more will often bundle a few items together to reach that goal. We find it’s easiest to split your wedding registry into three categories: $50 and under, between $50 and $100, and over $100.   


Popular $50 and Under Wedding Registry Items: 

Some of the best wedding registry items can be found on the less expensive side. These are some of our most-bought registry gifts:  
Celebrate Us Book 
Just Married Champagne Pop Glass Ornament 
White Ruffle Loaf Pan 


What to Expect When Registering 

With years of helping people register, we can say one thing for certain. Expect to be overwhelmed at first. Everyone feels that way before they start, but everything will be fine once you start working through your list. Remember—nothing is permanent. You can even return items if necessary to get the things you want. 
Also, once you’re done registering, know you’re never really done. We’ve put together the ultimate wedding registry checklist if we do say so ourselves! You should frequently check in and make sure you’re updating your wedding registry with new options, as items could be discontinued or sold out.  


How to Wrap Up Your Wedding Registry 

Depending on what gifts you receive and what’s outstanding on your wedding registry list, consider your approach to completing your registry. Is it ever really over? What happens if you end up with items you decide you don’t need? 
To wrap up your registry, sit down with everything in one place and take stock. Look at all the items you received from your registry to see what categories were completed. Then, exchange any oddballs and see what other items you still need or want to get. If you change your mind about the amount of one thing you need, this is a good opportunity to exchange them to put credit towards a different item. You should expect not to have the entire wedding registry completed and know you may need to exchange items or make purchases for yourselves.  
We recommend that you leave your registry up even after the honeymoon. With endless milestones to celebrate ahead of you, why not treat your registry as an ongoing wish list? Share your registry with your immediate family and close friends to give them easy options for upcoming birthdays, holidays, and more. 


3 Rules of Etiquette for Shopping off a Wedding Registry 

When shopping someone’s registry, remember these three rules when picking the perfect present: 
  1. While tradition says you have a year to get the happy couple a wedding gift, we find it’s best to give your present close to the wedding date. 
  2. Some people frown upon straying from the wedding registry list, but the one exception is if you have a close connection with the bride and groom. If you know their style and interests, a personal gift they’d enjoy and use is, more often than not, welcome.
  3. Group gifts are always welcome, especially if you and a few other guests band together to purchase a more expensive item on the wedding registry checklist.
Whether you’re creating  your own wedding registry or shopping for someone  else,  following time-honored traditions and understanding the proper etiquette can make the experience more fun. From considering price points to determining how to display your treasures, make selecting a wedding gift simple for you and your guests so you can enjoy the days leading up to your unforgettable wedding celebration. 

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