Is creating your wedding registry a joy, or a pain in the ass? It’s both.
The joy is that you get to pick a ton of cool gifts, and that you can expect to get most of them in the near future. The pain in the ass is that you can’t just pick anything–you have to figure out what you actually need to start your new life with your bride.
The words “wedding registry” sound like something the government makes you do: a form to fill out after waiting on line at the DMV. It sounds time consuming and confusing–exactly the sort of thing that will cause you and your fiancée to argue after an hour or two trudging around Macy’s.
You’re looking at this all wrong. Don’t think of your registry as a chore. Think of it as an opportunity–not just to get stuff, but to reinforce your connection to your bride, to your families and your friends. As you work with your fiancèe to put this thing together, you need a strategy that’s based on sound principles like the ones below.
You don’t need to sketch everything out beforehand. Start by looking at websites, and keeping track of things you might like.
If it helps, just make a list of everything that catches your eye, no matter how ridiculous. At this stage of the game, you can act like a kid in a candy store, a weed-fiend at a dispensary, a middle aged guy with a blank check at the Porsche dealership.
$12,000 gaming PC? Yes, please.
Twin diamond encrusted Rolex watches? I think I will!
An espresso machine so big you could open your own coffee house? Essential.
You’re not going to actually ask for these things (though you might be tempted). But this step will help you get your worst instincts out of your system.
Once you’ve loaded up your list with the type of ridiculous shit only a multi-millionaire could afford, you can go back and start paring down.
Check It Out
Your next move is to take a step back and make a checklist of the things to look for. Don’t worry about brands and prices yet (that comes next). Just figure out what things you actually need and what things you just want, then set a balance between the two. Prioritize this list, then start looking at the best ways to fill it.
Set A Wide Price Point
While we were kidding about the $12,000 PC, you don’t want to fill your registry with budget items either. Your guests will come from all sorts of economic brackets. Some will be able to afford really expensive gifts. Others will only be good for a basic juicer or a couple of shot glasses.
There’s a pride thing, too. Some of your guests will look at their gift as a mark of the importance of their relationship to you, especially family members. Your old college roommate may be satisfied with giving you a new iron, your rich uncle less so. Make sure you add enough items of sufficient symbolic weight to please all the people on your invite list.
The pace at which your registry items get purchased will depend on your guests. Your type-A friends and relatives will order immediately, while the beta males and females will leave things until the last moment.
This puts you in a bit of a quandary. You may not want to use your gifts yet (or you may not have room for them), so maybe you put them in a storage space, or leave them in your parent’s attic until you get back from the honeymoon. That’s fine. What’s not fine–what is, to be honest, a dick move–is to wait until after you’re married to send a thank you note. Write thank you notes as soon as you receive each gift.
You need to keep track of this–and the best way to keep track of this is to spreadsheet the hell out of it. Columns, my man: rows and columns. One column for what the gift is, one for when you received it. One row for who sent it, one for when you sent a thank you note. Do not try to keep track of this with a pen and paper: you will screw up and offend an uncle or a cousin. They will remind you about it at every Thanksgiving for the next 40 years.
Plan For Long Time Use
A wedding registry’s lifespan goes well beyond the wedding itself. Make your list longer than it needs to be: you can shop from it once your guests are done, or refer to it when you have gift cards to spend.
A registry can also serve as a useful source for ideas when it comes to bridal gifts, not to mention future birthday and anniversary presents. You’re going to be a married man, and belive us when we say that a married man needs to take anniversary presents seriously.
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the registry is for your guests, not you. Etiquette demands they give you a wedding gift–the registry is just a way to make it easy for them.
Don’t put off your registry. Your guests need enough time to order their gifts. You should already be thinking about it by the time you send out the invitations.
Part of the etiquette of registries is that you don’t mention them on your wedding invite. That might imply that the invitation is contingent on bringing a gift. Kind of like an invite to a house party that includes a two drink minimum.
If you have a wedding website, it’s fine to post a link to your registry there. Just don’t put it at the top of the home page in big block letters. This is the moment to show what a tasteful, discreet couple you are.