In the golden age of wedding registries, couples only had a handful of department stores to select. And they would only ask for the finer things in life — quite literally — like crystal flatware and heirloom investments. Fast forward fifty years, and engaged duos today are creative and strategic about their wedding registries by catering it to their lifestyle. Whether it’s a honeymoon fund or a good ‘ole fashioned cash, registries are meant to give newlyweds a jumpstart to a happy marriage.
One way to ensure you receive the most bang for your effort is to choose wedding registries that offer free gifts, discounts and other incredible perks. Not sure where to shop? Don’t sweat it. We spoke to wedding gurus to discover the best options out there.
In This Article
In This Article
Is there anything Amazon can’t do — or offer? In short: nope. And as CEO of The Wedding Academy Kylie Carlson explains, it’s a one-stop-wonder for registries. In addition to providing freedom and selection, they also have hidden features that will surprise and delight couples.
Pros: While it’s likely you can find most every item you need — from a mixer to a towel set — on Amazon, if there is something they don’t carry, you can still add it to your registry. Carlson explains their universal registry feature means you can choose whatever you like from whatever website you wish, and it’ll still live on your Amazon registry landing page. Pretty cool right? It doesn’t stop there either: “When a guest buys an item from a qualifying brand, Amazon will throw in a free gift from the same brand — such as a monogrammed serving dish to go with your new set of plates,” Carlson adds.
If you receive gifts before your big day, and you want to wait to open them until afterwards, you can download the Amazon app and scan the barcode to reveal what’s inside. And Carlson also says Amazon offers couples with a Prime membership 20 percent off of whatever wasn’t fulfilled so they can stock up post-nuptials.
Cons: If you and your number one wants to support small business, Amazon isn’t exactly the way to go. Because it’s one of the largest digital destinations out there, it supports big business and major retailers, rather than local artisans. Also, all of your wedding gifts will arrive in packages, which if you’re global-warming-conscious, could be a bummer for your environmental footprint.
Though Zola originally broke into the registry market as a go-to place for honeymoons and cash, now they’ve expanded across many industries and markets, making them a top perk-offering contender, according to Carlson.
Pros: You and your partner have lived together for years, and together, you’ve already built quite the home. As you start to plan your registry, you realize there isn’t much, really, that you need. That’s where Calrson says Zola can be a benefit, allowing duos to register for honeymoon funds or straight-forward cash. However, if you are Team Gifts, one benefit that separates Zola from other competitors is the opportunity to choose when your items ship. As Carlson notes, this can be a mega win for those who have destination weddings, and want everything to arrive on their doorstep once they’ve back in town.
As with many registries, Zola also gives couples six months to purchase anything leftover at a 20 percent discount, making it easy to finish it off as you have the funds. Though you can’t predict what you’ll receive, once you reach a certain threshold of purchases — either from guests or yourself — you’ll receive fun gifts, too!
Cons: If you have always dreamt of roaming through a department story, playfully scanning items with your partner, Zola’s not your best bet. They only have one showroom located in New York City for an in-person experience. Compared to other large registries sites, like Amazon, they don’t have as vast of a selection to choose from in terms of home goods and other options. And if you want to be mindful of how much your guests are shelling out, keep in mind that standard shipping isn’t a thing with Zola. So if they pick something heavy, it’ll cost ‘em.
Move aside Ikea, Wayfair is making headlines — and offering a slightly more aesthetic upgrade. For couples who truly only need investment pieces, this new furniture-and-more digital registry is a solid option.
Pros: Following the trend of couples who are streamlining their registries to match what they actually need, Wayfair offers incentives for couples to hop on board. As wedding videographer Mary Angelini reports, many duos are choosing this hot spot because it creates a more personalized approach to your decor. Considering they have every shade and print for every rug, towel set, throw pillow and decor, you can definitely outfit a home easily. As a bonus to guests, they also throw in free shipping, so it won’t cost me a penny more. For couples, returns are also free, and you can purchase anything left lingering for six months after your big day, at a 20 percent discount.
Cons: As you will discover as you go through the process of building your registry, it takes at least an hour or two to set up the page, select items and receive your link. What’s the difference between Wayfair is how fast the process is… as in, as soon as you sign up, the page is published, with or without anything on it. Though this can be helpful if you’re ready to hit ‘go’ from the start, it can be nerve-wracking for others who want the list to be perfected before it’s searable on the internet. Wayfair — so far — also doesn’t allow the option to have guests go in together on a large purchase. So, if you register for a super-comfortable recliner, your two best buddies from college can’t spend the cost through the Wayfair interface.
Crate & Barrel Registry
As a middle-of-the-road retailer in terms of budget, Crate & Barrel offers quality essentials at reasonable prices. Plus, their attention to detail and design have couples eyeing it for a registry hub.
Pros: While some couples are comfortable only surfing the internet to build their registries, others want a more hands-on experience with the brand they choose. If you’re in the latter group, Kevin Dennis, the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services recommends C&B thanks to their immersive in-store offering. These include a ‘scan-and-sip’ option where you and your partner can — you guessed it — enjoy wine while you choose items for your list. If you decide to go with Crate & Barrel, they will gift a free set of stemless wine glasses, on the spot! When your guests go to select something from your registry, they will receive free shipping, and C&B will update your cart with a ‘Thank You’ manager. “This feature keeps track of your inventory and guest purchasing history to create notes after the wedding,” Dennis shares. “You’ll also receive 10 percent off the entire store — not just your registry! — for up to six months after you get married.
Cons: Plenty of couples have excellent experiences with Crate & Barrel, but some have reported a difficult return process that takes time to receive cash returns or refunds. It’s in your best interest to chat with a registry expert in-store (or via their customer service hotline) to understand what you can expect if someone goes rogue and chooses something you, well, hate.
Often considered the original department store, Macy’s was home to the very first wedding registry, and it’s still a beloved option for couples today. To ensure they keep up with the times, they’ve also added some modern perks that earn ‘em a spot on this list.
Pros: Carlson says what’s especially unique — and awesome — about Macy’s is the rewards they offer for couples. They are one of the few that offers a 5 percent cash-back perk, in the form of a gift card that’s given to the couple after the wedding has come and gone. “This is perfect to pair with their 20 percent off discount for any remaining items, plus they include a 10 percent discount on any purchases made during the wedding timeline,” she explains. When you decide to choose Macy’s as your wedding registry, you will also receive a coupon book, so for those who are budget-first, Macy’s is a no-brainer. And if your guest list sways on the older side, having an actual store they can shop at can make it easier than figuring out a website.
Cons: Many reviews of the in-person Macy’s registry experiences feature frustrated brides and grooms. They report experiences receiving duplicate items, since the registry didn’t update in real time. And some shared mega-stress trying to register in-store. Though this can happen anywhere, it’s important to make an appointment before walking into a store to ensure the right person available to help. It’s also worth noting that Macy’s has been closing many stores over the past few years, so make sure there’s one nearby before you set your heart on a registry.
Bed, Bath and Beyond Registry
Stocked with necessities for your married bedroom, master bath and — you guessed it — beyond, this megastore is a popular registry choice. And if you ask Dennis, that’s for good reason. Their perks are definitely impressive.
Pros: Right after you get engaged, pick your venue, and prepare for the planning process ahead, consider stopping by a Bed, Bath and Beyond store to start your registry. It’s an easy-breezy, fun in-store experience that offers a real life consultant who takes you step-by-step (and scan-by-scan) through the process. Dennis says as a ‘thank you’ for signing up, the brand will give you a set of coffee mugs, but the benefits don’t stop there. “One of the most loved perks of their registry includes brands listed in the ‘Freebook,’” he explains. “Guests that purchase an item from a preferred Freebook brand will earn you another item from that brand.” Like with many retailers, Bed, Bath and Beyond will offer 20 percent off anything leftover in your registry, so you can have it all. Another cool feature is their refer-and-engaged-couple program, that will push more store credits in your pockets.
Cons: Most of the complaints about a registry with Bed, Bath and Beyond center on the digital interface. It’s not as sophisticated as other online-only options, which have invested in their websites. BB&B is a better choice for those who have a larger portion of older adults who are wedding guests, since they’ll enjoy going into the store to check off your wedding gift. In terms of unique finds, Bed, Bath and Beyond doesn’t have a vast selection of artisan goods, and you’ll mainly need to stick to the brands you are familiar with, creating a cookie-cutter type of home.